PFW’s Backyard BBQ

Eli Jones | Fall 2022

Purdue Fort Wayne’s Student Activities Board held a Campus BBQ event during their Welcome Week activities, where students could participate in food, games, and other activities as long as they had their Student ID, school email, or student number. This event took place in the Science Mall, located in between Neff Hall and the Liberal Arts Building, on Aug. 24 from noon to 3 p.m.

When asked about all of the activities available during the event, James Valez, Director of Student Activities, said, “Food, games, giveaways, and music, are opportunities for students to just hang out with one another and to also get to know each other.”

Valez said the food provided for students were hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers and brats. The meal also came with condiments, chips, pasta salad, and a drink.

Some of the games seen set up throughout the event were ladder ball, spike ball, giant Connect 4, cornhole, and a giant chess board for students to use.

“There are games that people can checkout so they can go play beyond the outdoor, large-scale games that we have,” Valez said.

Nathan Mills, Purdue Fort Wayne Student, said, “I got a hamburger, went and socialized with the cross-country team and just had a good time. We played some games, especially cornhole.”

“When you see all of the tables over there, it’s very specific to try and put chairs out with them so people can sit and meet new people and they can interact with each other.” said Valez.

Valez’s strategy of gathering the student body in one place to share a meal together and to play games with one another, seemed to have worked.

Tanveer Sings, Purdue Fort Wayne Student, said, “I made new friends, and saw a lot of old high school peers too.”

The event attracted a large number of students for the majority of the event, almost exceeding the anticipated number.  A total of 1,032 people attended the event, while the Student Activities Board had only anticipated 1,100 attendees.

“In the first 45 minutes we already had 600 people check in.” said Valez.

While talking about the rest of the Welcome Week events Valez said, “Most of our programs during Campus Kick Off are going to be geared towards our entire student body.”

To stay updated on upcoming events on the Purdue Fort Wayne Campus check out the Event Calendar on or follow @pfwsab on Instagram, @purduefw on twitter, or @PurdueFortWayne on Facebook.

To find information on how to join Purdue Fort Wayne’s Student Activities Board, go to Student Activities Board – Purdue Fort Wayne ( or email or call 260-481-6595.

Purdue Fort Wayne Root Beer Float Social

Liv Colón and Sydney Hamblin | Fall 2022

As Purdue University Fort Wayne welcomes students for the new year, many events are underway to help students connect with peers and get involved with campus programs and resources. 

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, the Student Activities Board at PFW hosted the annual Community Engagement Fair and Root Beer Float Social. The event was held in the center of campus at the Science Mall and attracted many students and faculty members. 

The event took place on the PFW Science Mall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the purpose of giving students the chance to grab a root beer float and check out local non-for-profit organizations to learn more about different service projects and opportunities around the Fort Wayne area. 

The social was part of the Campus Kickoff, a series of events hosted by the SAB. These events are put on to connect students to the various resources, opportunities, and extracurriculars that PFW has to offer to students. 

Other than just enjoying root beer floats, many students took the opportunity to walk through the tables set up by local non-profits. 

More than twenty booths were set up on the PFW Science Mall to give students the opportunity to engage with non-for-profit organizations in the Greater Fort Wayne community. Some of the organizations that attended the Root Beer Float Social were: Junior Achievement, Fort Wayne Trails, Community Harvest and Fort 4 Fitness.  

Many of the booths attended the campus kickoff event because their organizations were actively looking for volunteers. Sue Cassel, the founder of Max Cavie’s Guinea Pig Haven, said she has many guinea pigs in her shelter that her and her volunteers need help taking care of.  

“Guinea pigs need care 365 days a year… they live six to eight years, so people get tired of having them… we take them in and find them new homes.” 

Cassel said she has a small group of volunteers that help her take care of the animals they have in the shelter, but they’re looking to add to the group of volunteers they currently have.  

Indiana University Fort Wayne Senior, Adriahn Hindsley, also attended the event Tuesday. Hindsley said that she loves getting involved in and attending various PFW and IUFW events. 

“I try to get involved in any event I can, especially since I will be graduating this next spring,” Hindsley said.  

Hindsley said she likes the unique atmosphere of PFW and IUFW, she said it is different than other universities and that the atmosphere on campus is one of her favorite parts of being an IUFW Red Fox.  

Visit for more information about PFW’s 2022 campus kickoff events where students can enjoy tons of free food, giveaways and fun activities. 

Purdue Fort Wayne Connections Fair 2022

Emily Coverstone | Fall 2022

While students return to Purdue Fort Wayne and leave the summer behind, both staff and faculty of IUFW and PFW began the academic year by starting up the Campus Kickoff of 2022, which included their annual Connections Fair.

At Purdue Fort Wayne, the Connections Fair is a way for students to socialize with each other along with interacting with a wide variety of groups and organizations.

Around 20 different booths and tents were set up all around the Science Mall located on campus to showcase the broad variety of clubs and organizations that the school, both PFW and IU, had to offer for enrolled students. While some of the booths had snacks and knick-knacks to catch the attention of passing students, the Environmental Resource Center (ERC) booth had a not so furry friend named Clive to bring all the attraction.

Neighboring the ERC, sat the booth for The Q Center, located in Walb Student Union, Room 215 on campus. The Q Center is an organization found on campus for LGBTQ+ students who, if they ever need anything or a place to go, they can have one, while at school and away from home.

“A lot of the reasoning for our tabling is to say, ‘hey we are here, and these are the services we offer’.” said Vic Spencer, director of The Q Center.

Not only do students typically take advantage of the fair to meet new faces and get a free t-shirt or complimentary popcorn, but the clubs and organizations also take the few hours as a way of recruiting as many new faces as possible to keep their organizations running. One booth used the hours as an opportunity to succeed in class.

Even though the Campus Kickoff is under PFW, the IU Red Foxes have their own booths set up too, and this year a new booth was set up by a group of Red Fox Dental Hygiene students with complimentary toothpaste, toothbrushes, and teeth shaped chip clips.

“The fair is definitely a great opportunity to inform the student body of our clinic here on campus and the services we can provide there at discounted prices, and thanks to the fair, we got a lot of patients for the clinic, which will help us fill the requirements for our degrees.” Alana Lester, an IU junior dental hygiene student said.

As COVID hits its 3rd year of being around, a few clubs are beginning to regroup and get back on track, just like the Photography Club which has come back after a 2-year break.

 “This club was around for a while but was then disbanded in 2020 for COVID reasons”, said Madison Crisp, the president of the renewed Photography Club.

Students who enjoy photography could join the club to take trips to different places such as the Botanical Gardens in Fort Wayne or a Conservatory and take as many pictures as they please all the while making new friends who share the same interests as them.

The club had a booth set up to look for new members before many of the current members graduate in the Spring including Crisp and Vice President Iris Miller.

 With the 2022-2023 school year officially started, students can now go off and take part in clubs and organizations if they choose to do so with the information brought by the Connections Fair and Campus Kickoff.

Mastodons can now connect on or off campus

A Purdue Fort Wayne initiative is using technology for good, keeping nearly every student informed and involved on campus. 

Students may recall getting frequent texts from an anonymous- and encouraging- chatbot. The weekly messages check in with how classes are going or what kind of help students might need to succeed during the semester. 

So far, 98% of enrolled students at PFW have opted in to receive this encouragement.

The mystery man behind the chatbot is Mitch Davidson, the associate vice chancellor and chief information officer at PFW. Davidson said he was looking for a way to keep students in touch with the campus community on a more engaging level than a generic email with a feedback survey.

Together with a team, he was able to make that connection happen in October.

Davidson is responsible for the technology on campus. Esports and computer labs are just a few of the places he works behind the scenes to help everything run smoothly. He has worked in higher education for 20 years, and eight of those at PFW.

He met with Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Carl Drummond and Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and the Student Experience, Krissy Creager. The two were impressed, and Davidson went on to get the service approved by Ronald Elsenbaumer, the chancellor himself.

There are representatives from many departments involved, including student life and leadership, advising, marketing, and more. The variety of input makes for a wide range of contributions for the details of the chatbot messages.

One text from February asked students what area they would like the most support in for the spring semester. Options included academics, finances, social engagement, and wellness. The chatbot sent a list of resources based on what area each student picked in response. 

The chatbot has a 24/7 individualized response to students’ replies- and in multiple languages.

Many of the texts allow a reply of yes or no, or a corresponding number. But some students have taken it a step further. Davidson shared a few of the responses gone rogue: “You’re my new buddy, don. Welcome to the family.” “Hi don, will you marry me?” 

“I like people with a sense of humor,” Davidson said, adding that feedback has been positive– which would account for the high percentage of students that are opted in and actively engaging with the texts.

More than 9,000 students enrolled at PFW have responded to the texts in the past three months alone, and over half of those that opted in reply consistently each time a text is received.

The end goal is to keep the text chain going as an immediate resource for students who are seeking help with school, campus life, or even just want someone to talk to. “We want to do anything we can do to assist you,” Davidson said, adding it is his intent to continue the chatbot after the full pilot year this coming fall. 

It’s safe to say this service isn’t going away any time soon.

Cinema Center to Re-Open November 12th

Written by Brianna Datta

Members of the Fort Wayne community can mark their calendars for the grand re-opening of Cinema Center this weekend which will open with a viewing of Archenemy, an independent sci-fi film by director, Adam Egypt Mortimer.

Director of Archenemy, Adam Egypt Mortimer, will be making a virtual appearance to discuss the film, Haylna Hutchin’s work as a cinematographer on Archenemy, as well as to participate in a Q&A with the moviegoers.

Executive Director Art Herbig explained the reasoning behind the decision to re-open the weekend with this particular film, “part of the reason this film was selected, and part of the reason he’s so apt to come in is because this is one of the last films done by Halyna Hutchins, who was just shot on the set of Rust. She’s the cinematographer on this film, and one of the things we were hoping to talk about is her as an artist, because there’s been a lot of talk of her as a victim of this shooting.”

Cinematographer and journalist, Halyna Hutchins, was fatally wounded during the production of the western film, Rust. Herbig emphasized the importance of discussing her work and the art she left behind.

“To get to see her art on the screen, and to talk about her as a filmmaker, along with the film itself with the director, we thought was a great way to open up cinema center again, and to show the kinds of events we want to do, along with the kinds of conversations we want to have as part of these showings”.

To purchase tickets to this event, or for more information, visit

Lo and behold, the College Input Holiday Gift Guide!

By Desaray Bradley | 12.16.20

‘Twas the fortnight before Christmas, at 12 in the afternoon,

I realized I had not done much shopping; I’d better start soon!

Where should I go, and what should I buy!?

Lo and behold, the College Input Holiday Gift Guide!

If you’re reading this, you’re probably like me and have been so busy with work or school and trying to maintain your mental stability that half of December has just flown by.

You could tell your family Santa’s workshop was closed due to COVID-19, or you can keep reading and check out a few of our favorites holiday gift ideas this season—full of local spirit.

Remember, small businesses are hurting during the pandemic, and need your support now more than ever.

Here are 10 local shops to support (and gift ideas to inspire you) in the downtown Fort Wayne area.

1. House to Home

110 W Columbia St.

Calyan Wax Co. candles available at House to Home.

H2H has the perfect accessories to add comfort and style to any interior with modern flair. Home décor is a great gift for your work-from-home family and friends who are beginning to get stir crazy and needing something liven up their space. Whether it’s a private office, a tiny corner of the living room, or in my case, a windowless walk-in closet, a soy candle from Calyan Wax Co. will transform the dreariest spaces into a luxurious study. My favorite scent is Apples + Maple Bourbon, but House to Home also stocks Aspen + Fog, Home + Holiday, and Oakmoss + Amber. Candles make great supplementing gifts, too. A Calyan Wax Co. candle, a bottle of wine, and a soft fleece blanket make for a relaxing evening at home.


2. The Nurses’ Nursery

Plants from the Nurses’ Nursery

The Nurses’ Nursery is an online business started by two intensive care unit nurses in Fort Wayne with a passion for gardening. Orders can be made via their Facebook and their new website. The Nurses offer a variety of house plants, ranging from those that require little indirect light to those that are tropical, needing bright direct light. For a first-time house plant owner, I would recommend going with a jade pothos. They are relatively low maintenance, requiring indirect light and can even grow under standard fluorescent lights. Follow the Nurses’ Nursery social media accounts for holiday discounts and plant care tips.


3. Honey Plant

1436 N Wells St.

Plants and ceramic pots by artist Kristen Watrous of K Watrous Ceramics available at Honey Plant

If you’re picking up a house plant from The Nurses’ Nursery, be sure to also visit Honey Plant boutique, as well. Not only do they also offer a wide assortment of house plants in their boutique and online, they also carry a diverse selection of pots and containers. Many of these ceramic pieces are made by Indiana artists, such as Sarah Thompson owner of Sarahmics. Honey Plant owners Cassandra and Logan Braman are always friendly and helpful in choosing the correct plant and type and size of container for your plant’s needs, too. For those whose thumbs are more black than green, Honey Plant also designs plant art from mosses and dried flowers. This option is a step up from fake plants, but doesn’t require the same maintenance as living plants.


4. Hyde Brothers Booksellers

1428 Wells St.

Books of all types at Hyde Brothers Booksellers

Before you even reach the door, you’ll catch a whiff of that universal “old book smell” drafting through your COVID-19 mask. The shelves of Hyde Brothers Booksellers are stacked floor to ceiling, housing over 150,000 books. Browse the selection, and you’ll find new reads and plenty of classics. For socially distant shopping, the bookstore will host its Midnight Sale this year in two sessions, lasting two hours each, on Saturday, Dec. 19.  This extravaganza requires a ticket to participate, and you can reserve one for free via Eventbrite. On this special night, you will receive a 20 percent discount on your entire purchase and a gift if you wear your pajamas! If you are not able to make the sale, you can also shop the online book packages, which are specially curated with the help of the staff. Buyers can fill out a preference form based on their desired genre and previously enjoyed books. Can you imagine, getting The Sam Hyde Family Package, and everyone getting their book on Christmas Eve, reading and sipping hot cocoa? #goals.


5. Fancy & Staple

1111 Broadway

Fun wrapping paper available at Fancy & Staple

I don’t know about you guys, but I am a gift wrap snob. While most often gift wrap is ripped to smithereens, I aim to use gift wrap that will cause the receiver to pause at its glory and appreciate the artwork that goes into it. Fancy & Staple not only carries gift wrap, bags, stickers, and tags for a myriad of occasions, but also has an eclectic supply of goods from creators—both local and all over the world. Follow Fancy & Staple on Instagram and stay tuned for updates regarding their upcoming toy store, Hopscotch House. It’s all the fun and wonder that can be found in Fancy & Staple, but for your favorite littles!


6. Creative Women of the World

125 W. Wayne St.

Friendship bracelets at Creative Women of the World

CWOW’s Wide Silk Rainbow bracelet is an awesome group gift. Friendship bracelets are timeless, and it is an extra reminder of your love when you can’t be near. These bracelets are small, but meaningful, like work done by the ladies of CWOW, a shop and nonprofit that specializes in empowering female entrepreneurs all over the world to use their creative and artistic talents to support their families and communities. Each bracelet is handmade by a Guatemalan artisan, so no two are exactly the same. Along with the Friendship bracelets, CWOW features a wide variety of sustainably sourced gifts for men and women alike, including clothing, accessories, home décor, baking kits, coffee, and essential oils! Visit their shop downtown next to J.K. O’Donnell’s Irish Pub or browse their selection online.


7. Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Gift Shop

131 W Main St.

Coney Island socks available at Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Gift Shop

Steamed buns aren’t the only thing Coney Island is peddling. While you’re taking a break from the many hours of shopping, grab a couple of Coney dogs—sauce and cheese only for me. Then walk over to the Coney Island Gift Shop next door. This tiny shop is full of Coney Island inspired apparel, but the gift that takes the cake is the Coney Island dress socks. What better way to wear your local pride than with this iconic Fort Wayne restaurant keeping your feet cozy all winter long?


8. The Find

133 W. Wayne St.

Camp Craft DIY Cocktails available at The Find

At some point this year, most of us have yearned for nights out with our friends, but instead, have settled for nights stuck at home to stay safe. But thanks to Camp Craft DIY Cocktails available at The Find, you can learn how to make artisanal cocktails yourself—no professional bartender required. While the cocktail kits require three days for the alcohol of your choice to infuse into the ingredients, at least you know there won’t be a long line to pour yourself a glass! You can get two uses from the ingredients included in each pack. Cocktails come in four flavors: Hot Toddy, Hibiscus Ginger Lemon, Sage and Turmeric, and Pineapple Jalapeno. While you’re at the Find, be sure to shop around, too. They carry a wide range of goods ideal for homebodies and kitchen aficionados. You can transform your house into a high-end restaurant!


9. Old Fort Tee Co.

T-shirts at Old Fort Tee Co.

Old Fort Tee Co. is an online shop that makes tees in Fort Wayne and for Fort Wayne. Not only do these shirts make a great gift for locals, but even more so for your out-of-town relatives who may not be able to visit this year. My Nana is a snowbird. Usually, she’ll spend the spring and summer months here, and then leave for Florida as it gets chillier. Lucky her, right? Of course, this year has been different, for all the obvious reasons and for her safety, she hasn’t visited. So why not send a little piece of Fort Wayne her way?


10. The Hedge

1016 Broadway

A faux leather mini clutch at-home workshop by The Hedge

As cabin fever rises during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m sure you’ve already exhausted your typical hobbies. But thankfully, a small business owner downtown is creating fun ways to keep you busy and help you create something extra special for your loved ones this holiday season—or share the gift of crafting with others. The Hedge, a fine art print shop studio on Broadway, has created Workshop at Home kits, which make great gifts for craft-lovers ages 10 and up. Each craft is highly useful and appeals to adults, too, like a faux leather mini clutch or a linoleum print. The Hedge’s owner, Julie Wall, includes all of the necessary items for each craft in the kit, as well as instructions and notes about where additional supplies may be obtained. While you’re visiting The Hedge, check out their great selection of locally made items and gifts with city spirit, like Fort Wayne ornaments!

That’s all for now, folks. But there are so many more places to shop local in the Fort Wayne region, so if you do venture out to do some holiday shopping, consider visiting a new small business.

Supporting local businesses will always be the gift that keeps on giving in our local economy. Keep in mind, during this holiday season, many of our Fort Wayne merchants are offering gift cards, online shopping, and curbside pickup and delivery options, too. (See a full list of local deals and discounts here!)

Stay safe, and be merry!


Editor’s note: This story was produced in partnership with Input Fort Wayne and originally published on that digital magazine. This collaboration features the work of PFW students and provides a positive outlook on what pulses through the cities in the area, promoting inspirational stories that spark conversations and help us break new ground into the future and promote better communities. 

Mindful Attire: September is National Suicide Prevention Month

By Nicole Minarik

Jeremy Blackman’s shirt choice has the sole purpose of showing support and raising awareness during National Suicide Prevention Month.

Blackman, 46, is a Fort Wayne native and hair stylist at 6002 The Salon at Professional Village. He makes connections and talks with over 100 people each month. On Sunday afternoon, he made a new connection and shared the story behind his shirt.

Blackman’s shirt is grey with an outline of the state of Indiana in a green, white and blue combination. The imagery and coloring inside the outline are what could be described as galaxy with the purple, green and splashes of white. Also inside the state outline is a large semicolon with the words Hoosier Buddy Project.

“The representation of the semi colon is why I wear it. It means something in my group of family and friends,” Blackman said.

According to the Project Semicolon website, the symbolic meaning of the semicolon is to show support for those that suffer from mental health issues, have attempted suicide, or have lost a loved one to suicide. Survivors have embraced the symbol as a reminder that their story is not over but a pause before continuing with their story.

Blackman explained that this is just one of several shirts he wears to show support to those who have lost loved ones to suicide or attempted suicide. It is a purposeful thought because September is National Suicide Prevention month.

“Many of our family members have been affected by it,” Blackman said.

Blackman and his wife attended the 2019 Breastfest at the Fortlandia Brewing Company in Fort Wayne. The event is held to raise awareness and funds to help fight breast cancer. His wife, Emily, is a breast cancer survivor.

“My wife and I go every year to the event to try new beers and donate to a good cause,” Blackman said.

That year the Hoosier Buddy Project group also participated in Breastfest. The Hoosier Buddy Project is an Indiana-based suicide prevention program. According to the organization’s Facebook page, they are a group of Indiana brewers that come together to make beers, form support groups, talk about suicide, and help fund existing non-profit groups.

Blackman’s wife is the one who purchased the shirt at the fundraising event. She wanted to add to his collection of meaningful shirts that raise awareness. says Indiana’s suicide rate has been higher than the national suicide rate since 2000. In addition, around 1,000 Hoosiers are lost to suicide every year and have been since 2016.

For more information on the Hoosier Buddy Project, go to their Facebook page: Hoosier Buddy.

For more information or resources on Project Semicolon, go to: