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Wealth of experience: Will Wiebe-Friesen brings new energy to Bethel chemistry
The new professor aims to make the tough subject more fun and enjoyable for Bethel students.
Seasons are beginning to change on campus, as are the faces – new coaches, students, and professors. You might find one of those new faces in the science building where Dr. Will Wiebe-Friesen just recently joined the chemistry department.
Wiebe-Friesen is not at all new to Kansas. He was born in Meade and graduated from Tabor in 2011 with a BA in Chemistry. However, in 2016, he made a big move and headed to New York where he attended State University of New York at Buffalo and received a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry and Mass Spectrometry.
Interestingly, Wiebe-Friesen had originally entered college wanting to study music. But overtime, he decided to pursue chemistry and teaching.
Wiebe-Friesen emphasized that many of his high school teachers and college professors influenced this decision, and shared, “Some of my favorite memories, besides the many hours spent in the lab, were helping Dr. Heyen run a science activity for kids at a summer camp at Tabor each year and putting on chemistry ‘magic shows’ at some local elementary schools and 4-H camps.”
Wiebe-Friesen elaborated on this strong impact that his teachers and professors had on his passion and love for chemistry by saying, “Even though I went to a tiny, rural high school, I had science teachers from middle school and high school who made the subject fun and interesting.”
After graduating from graduate school, he took his first teaching job at Garden City Community College in 2016. Wiebe-Friesen then moved to North Newton with his husband in 2018 and worked at Hesston College from 2018 to 2023 before coming to Bethel.
When asked about how he discovered or first heard about Bethel, Wiebe-Friesen shared, “I've always known about Bethel. Even though I went to Tabor College after high school, I had a very close childhood friend who came to Bethel. Maybe a little unusual for many Tabor and Bethel students, but I'm glad for that experience.”
Wiebe-Friesen was initially drawn to Bethel for two major reasons: it’s strong reputation for excellence and its ability to help foster relationships between professors and students.
“I came to Bethel because it had always been on my radar as a place I'd like to work, partly because of its long history as a progressive Mennonite college with a reputation for excellence,” Wiebe-Friesen said. “I enjoyed my position at Hesston College and worked with some really great people, but, since it is primarily a two-year college, I found that I really missed the opportunity to see students through their full four years of college.”
“I came to Bethel because it had always been on my radar as a place I'd like to work, partly because of its long history as a progressive Mennonite college with a reputation for excellence.”
Building strong relationships with students and helping them grow through their time at Bethel is a major goal of Wiebe-Friesen’s. A new professor can bring a fresh perspective on a subject for both old and new students. Students agree it will be exciting to see the impact that Wiebe-Friesen has on the students in the science department at Bethel.