At the intersection of gardening, free beer and the U.S. Army

Photo by Jake Paige ’23

“Wabash was never even in my horizons until they emailed me and told me I could apply for free,” said Drew Johannes ’25 “And then they said, ‘you’re accepted and we’re going to give you a lot of money,’ and I was like, ‘I’m definitely going to consider it.’”

For the proud Logansport berry, the deal wasn’t set until he came and visited the campus for the first time. Wabash’s small and walkable campus was exactly what he was looking for.

“I fell in love with the campus; small campuses are always good. I love that I can walk anywhere within 10 minutes,” said Johannes. “I just felt at home, complete.”

Kappa Sigma, a fraternity he would come to lead as its president, proved to play a huge part in Johannes’s time at Wabash, giving him a place that felt like home, friends to lean on, and people who would call him out when he
needed it.

“When I was down the worst, when I needed advice, or just someone to vent to, they were always there,” said Johannes. “They told you what you wanted to hear, but also what you needed to hear, no matter how bad that would sound.”

Amid those late night discussions, Johannes’s Wabash plan often changed. Originally wanting to go the pre-med route, he decided instead to pursue theater and digital films studies.

“I came here fresh out of medic training in the army. I thought to myself, ‘all right medicine’s easy.’” said Johannes, referring to his freshman self. “Why don’t I just do the pre-med track here and try to do it within 7 semesters?”

“No,” said Johannes emphatically, with the look of a man wise from past mistakes. “I realized how academically challenging Wabash was.”

And how did Johannes end up in theater?

“I just rolled with it,” he said. “And I’ve enjoyed my time.”

As for the rest of us, Johannes recommends we explore as well, pushing our boundaries and doing things that are unexpected.

“I think everybody has just so many talents and [so much] potential. You should just do something. It’ll make you happier.”

Johannes is the first to take his own advice, keeping busy with his fraternity, leading the Scarlet Masque, acting in theater department shows and serving in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Balancing his involvement in ROTC with rigorous Wabash courses meant Johannes, someone who isn’t naturally organized with his time, had to figure it out quickly.

“You just have to realize the Pros and Cons of what you’re doing and what you should be doing,” said Johannes. “What do you like doing? Balance what needs to be done and what makes you happy. And incorporate breaks,” added Johannes. “Sometimes I’ll stare off in space for five minutes, but then it’s back to the grind.”

In the end, the grind is worth it as Johannes is set to graduate in the fall. After he leaves, Johannes very enthusiastically voiced his hope the art department “blows up.” He quickly went on to clarify that he meant this positively.

“I hope it becomes a popular hub of creativity. I want more people to use the Fine Arts Center,” said Johannes. “It can be videos, it can be art , it can be music, just anything.”

At the conclusion of the interview, I asked Johannes if there was anything else he wanted to add. After a long thoughtful pause, he provided a list:

“I think students should be able to crack a beer open in class with a professor, I think the expectations of professionalism hinder deep conversation, I think each living unit should have its own gardens with peppers.”

Johannes took a breath and paused, adding finally: “Oh, and I think there should be more free beer.”