My Wheaton

Discovering Financial Aid

Posted February 3, 2016 by Travis Mercante '17

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Until the beginning of my junior year, I had never interacted with anyone from Wheaton's Financial Aid office. When circumstances in my family jeopardized my ability to continue my Wheaton education, I entered the Financial Aid office with trepidation.

A kind receptionist set up an appointment for me with my adviser, Ben Grey. Due to my situation, I had no idea how financial aid at Wheaton worked, and I feared I would have to navigate the murky waters of taxes and the daunting “FAFSA” all on my own. However, I quickly realized that was not the case. Ben explained to me in detail how the system worked, and he patiently answered my numerous questions. At first, I felt as though my questions were ignorant, the answers obvious to everyone but me. However, Ben always encouraged me, assuring me we could figure it out together. Even after that meeting when I had more difficult and specific questions, Karen Belling, the Director of Financial Aid, talked with me on the phone for an hour and expressed a genuine desire to help me.

It continues to amaze me how Wheaton’s motto “For Christ and His Kingdom,” permeates every aspect of the college, and the Financial Aid office is no exception. They have been my advocates and mentors, and it’s through them that I’ve been able to stay at Wheaton. If it were not for Financial Aid, I would not have been able to complete my Wheaton College experience, and a hard time in my life would have been made much worse.  I will never be able to thank them enough for their assistance and all the help they continue to provide. I am privileged to call them my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Travis Mercante ‘17 is a junior majoring in Business and Economics. Visit the Financial Aid Office website to learn how financial aid can make your Wheaton experience possible, apply for aid, or discover FAQ's and tips. 

Photo Captions: Travis and Titus Payne '18 in their dorm; learning to swing-dance; Travis rides a llama in Panama during Wheaton's Iron Sharpens Iron program this summer. 

Wheaton In Chicago: "Who Is My Neighbor?"

Posted January 27, 2016 by Hunter Hambrick '17

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"I want to be a sponge,” I told myself before beginning my fall semester with Wheaton in Chicago. I decided the best posture to adopt when living in Chicago would be one of humility. Learning and growing as a person were my main goals, but little did I know how much living in the city would transform me.

My greatest impetus for applying to Wheaton College was Wheaton in Chicago, the semester-long program that allows a small group of Wheaton students to live, work, and learn together in the city. It provides students an opportunity to learn from community organizations all across Chicago. After my freshman year, it seemed foolish to live so close to a leading global city without ever truly accessing its resources.

And ‘access’ I did.

I said I wanted to be a sponge, but in reality I did less ‘soaking up’ than I did drinking in of Chicago’s myriad of social concerns:

Housing discrimination.

Education reform.

Mass incarceration.

Gender inequality.

Racial segregation.

The opportunities to learn and serve seemed infinite.These colossal concepts made the program particularly challenging but equally rewarding. Through coursework, service opportunities, and my internship at Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (led by David Doig ’86), I realized that developing whole communities is difficult work but extremely worthwhile.

Wheaton in Chicago both complicated and corrected my overly idealized view of the city. Chicago presents certain advantages and disadvantages, but it ultimately makes me ask the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Answering that in a way that is for God, for people, and for creation may take me a lifetime, but it will certainly make me a more complete person.


Hunter Hambrick '17 is an English Writing major. The Wheaton In Chicago program has had over 200 students participate in it since its creation in 1998. Learn more about Wheaton In Chicago by watching the video below or visiting their website. Interested in applying? 

Photo Captions: Hambrick in front of the Uptown theatre just a few blocks away from the Wheaton In Chicago apartments; the 2015 Wheaton In Chicago group 

Rigor & Transformation: My Experience with Music Education at Wheaton

Posted January 20, 2016 by David Batdorf '16

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My experience as a music education major at Wheaton has been marked by rigor and transformation. Early in high school I found myself muttering, seemingly void of inspiration, the ambiguous phrase, “I want to impact kids’ lives.” At the time, what I really wanted was an impressive performance career, but for the sake of job security, I “settled” for music education. Now, as I begin my last semester at Wheaton, I’m so thankful that God used my misguided motivation to bring me into the music education department at Wheaton. 

Music education is considered by many to be the most demanding major at Wheaton. Whether or not this is true, it was demanding enough to quickly challenge my motivation: do I really love music and people? What will motivate me to wake upevery day and pour into students? What will keep me from burning out?


Wheaton did not expose these questions without providing resources for answers. A spring break trip led to an internship which staged a gospel-driven, heart-transforming summer. Professors invited me into their offices and lives, offering friendship, challenges, and opportunity. Friends shared meals with me and, while we ate, offered their passion for Jesus and his work. In its rigor, music education exposed me to questions that could only be satisfied by Jesus. When I began to discover his heart I found that it loves beauty, relationship, and work. God loves music education because He made everything about it.

I want to impact kids’ lives. The once ambiguous phrase is now poignant and inspirational. I want to share Jesus through music because through it, Jesus has found me.


David Batdorf '16 is a senior music education major with a French horn concentration. Visit the Wheaton Conservatory website to learn more about Wheaton's music education program.

Photo Captions: David hiking in New Hampshire; David with the Symphonic Band French horn section

Wheaton College at #Urbana15

Posted January 13, 2016 by Tony Abiera M.A. '16

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During the opening session of #urbana15, Tom Lin, the Vice President of InterVarsity USA, asked the audience of 16,000+ this simple question: “What story will you tell with your life?” As the theme of this year’s conference, this question deeply permeated the hearts of the audience, whether missionaries with decades of experience, college students thinking through their career paths, or recent graduates prayerfully considering job offers. We were all challenged to live our lives in light of God’s global mission, telling the story of Jesus in our diverse contexts.

My wife, Kelsey M.A. ’17, and I were very excited to attend our first Urbana Conference. We didn’t need to be convinced to “go” as missionaries—instead we were praying for God to bring clarity and direction to our desires. Our passion for cross-cultural missions began in college, when we each spent a summer sharing the gospel in East Asia and got involved in ministry to the international student population on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s campus. After graduating, we got married and began taking steps to "go" and gain a vision for cross-cultural church planting amongst unreached peoples. Our plans led us to Wheaton College Graduate School, where we are pursing degrees that we pray will equip us for more effective ministry overseas.              


As we sat in the audience during the main sessions and seminars, God brought us clarity in a surprising way. Through several speakers, God reminded us that the first and most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). In David Platt’s main session, we were convicted that a heart for missions is not the same as a heart for God. We were called to examine our hearts and see if we were manufacturing a passion for missions while missing a heart for Jesus above all else.

This conference was a milestone for Kelsey and I. Not because all our questions were answered. But instead, because God used Urbana to gently remind us of our primary purpose in life—to love and worship God, which leads us to tell the beautiful story of Jesus to all nations.


Tony is pursuing his master’s degree in TESOL & Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College Graduate School. His wife, Kelsey, is pursuing a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Learn more and apply on the Wheaton College Graduate School’s website

Photo Captions: The Urbana15 stage is ready for an evening session of worship music and speakers; Tony and his wife Kelsey take an Abiera selfie at the St. Louis capital building; the Graduate School team of faculty, staff, and students at the Urbana15 exhibitor booth.

Learning, Growing, Giving Back: Graduate Resident Adviser

Posted December 11, 2015 by Ethan Jones M.A. '17

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Three years had passed since I completed my undergraduate degree, and I was struggling to figure out what the next step in my life was going to be. I looked into seminary degrees and teaching, anxiously searching for hours online. It felt like I only had three truths to lean on: the discipleship relationships I had experienced brought me great joy, I had much to learn about practical ministry, and God had always been faithful to provide a next step.

After finding Wheaton’s Graduate Resident Adviser (GRA) position, my wife and I prayed for confirmation that this was the right next step. Soon after, I discovered that the GRA positions opened many educational and practical opportunities to disciple men and women in the Residence Life setting. The Holy Spirit made our next step clear: we would live and learn with the Wheaton family.

And honestly, Wheaton has truly become our spiritual family. Between the Christian Formation and Ministry (CFM) program with a concentration in Student Development, the weekly student gatherings in our apartment, the honest community of believers, and discipling men through tough issues, I am constantly amazed by God’s provision of learning and opportunity.

Through the CFM program, God has fanned the flames of my heart to love Jesus more. My professors have embodied the transformational power of a relationship with Christ, exemplifying how Christian education must revolve around knowing and experiencing Christ. As Charles Spurgeon prayed, “Lord, be present here, then will I look up from the book [Scripture] to the Lord—from the precept to Him who fulfilled it, from the Law to Him who honoured it, from the threatening to Him who has borne it for me, and from the promise to Him in whom it is ‘Yea and amen.’”

Ethan Jones M.A. '17 is pursuing a masters in Christian Formation and Ministry with a concentration in Student Development. He is a Graduate Resident Adviser (GRA) in Terrace Apartments, one of Wheaton's upperclassmen dorms, and works in the Residence Life Office. To learn more about Wheaton's graduate school, the CFM program, or the GRA position, visit their websites. 

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