Tags: My Wheaton, Spiritual Life, Student Activities
Just four years ago, I was a bright-eyed high school graduate headed to Wheaton College, and I had big goals: make lots of forever-friends, get all As, find my one true love, and come out a “stellar” Christian.
Some of those things did happen, but more importantly, I realized I am not defined by my accomplishments. My worth is not determined by grades, for learning goes deeper than the letters printed on my report card. And my value is not decided by the number of friends I accumulated, the guys I dated, or the prayers I cried when failure and rejection were close companions. Wheaton College has, instead, taught me that the most important thing about me is that I am loved by a merciful and gracious God.
Wheaton College is a flawed place made up of flawed people redeemed by our loving Father’s grace. For me, it has been a safe place to question, grieve, rejoice, and confront my fears and guilt. I have mourned with my brothers and sisters over systemic injustice as part of the Shalom Community, found myself humbled in the immersion of a different culture during Wheaton in England, and discovered solace while walking alongside literary giants, realizing we both seek the same truths.
It seems surreal: in just a few days I’ll say a teary-eyed farewell to professors and classmates, receive my cap, gown, and diploma, and consider myself an official alumna of Wheaton College. It has been such a privilege to learn and grow at Wheaton College. So thank you: to the professors, classmates, friends, and staff who have shown me the love of Christ stretches deep, and far, and wide. Thank you for the books I have read, the finals I have studied for, and the papers written. Thank you for the challenges, the tears, the laughter. I can’t imagine spending the past four years anywhere else.
Katherine Braden '16 is an English major with a writing concentration and a minor in community art. She has edited the #MyWheaton blog from August 2015 through May 2016 and has been continually blessed to hear and share stories of her classmates' Wheaton experiences.
Photo Captions: Katherine on the English moors during Wheaton in England; Katherine (second from left) with housemates; Katherine with Shalom House Community.
Tags: My Wheaton, Student Activities
The first day of freshman year, I hurried through my math competency exam in time to catch the final five minutes of Gospel Choir’s open rehearsal. I ended up dancing in the middle of the circle to stomping, clapping, and shouting. Once rehearsal disassembled, the choir’s director Tanya Egler called me over to the piano. After singing “How Great is Our God” together for a few minutes, she invited me to her church, and I knew this group was my new home.
Three years later, the Gospel Choir family still contains my best friends, is my primary ministry outlet, and provides me with endless opportunities and reasons to worship God. I had the privilege to serve as Co-Business Manager on Gospel Choir Cabinet last year and am finishing this year as the choir’s Vice President. Between scheduling off-campus concerts and handling thousands of dollars, being on Gospel Choir Cabinet has been a definite challenge, but it has furnished more than its share of reward.
My experiences with Gospel Choir have challenged my approach to teamwork, expanded my social networks, opened up the city of Chicago to me, and have made me feel like I’m a part of Wheaton College. Gospel Choir has also taken me to California, North Carolina, Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, John P. Kee’s church stage, the Gospel Music Workshop of America, and an astounding variety of other churches and ministries. At the end of next year, we are heading to South Korea on tour.
If you walk into the Office of Multicultural Development and look to your left, you will see these words posted above a desk: “Wheaton College Gospel Choir is a diverse group that exists to glorify God by building a loving community that ministers to others through gospel music.” That’s the heart of what we do, and our four core values – ministry, diversity, family, and music – say it all.
Erin McCord '17 is a community art major with an urban studies minor. To learn more about Wheaton's Gospel Choir, visit their website.
Photo Captions: Gospel Choir cabinet jumps for joy; Erin sings in Gospel Choir's 2016 spring concert; members of Gospel Choir pose after the spring concert.
Tags: My Wheaton, Student Activities
Last spring break I traveled to Savannah, Georgia with a BreakAway team of eight students and two Wheaton staff leaders. We spent our week working for Habitat for Humanity, stocking shelves in a food pantry, tutoring at a local elementary school, and repairing and painting houses. On our off hours we toured the city of Savannah, walking down cobbled streets, trying local seafood, and visiting Tybee Island.
The service was rewarding, the friendships strong. Even though it was only a week long trip, God worked both in us and through us. We were able to encourage the woman whose home we repaired and painted as well as a local Christian couple. This couple had an amazing house, and they would allow students serving in the Savannah area to stay with them. They told us about the summer their house caught on fire and burned to the ground. Though they were devastated, they praised God that neither of them were in the house at the time. This couple’s faith was evident as they encouraged us to always trust God. They helped me thank God for both the good times and the bad.
It was a privilege to participate in BreakAway, to join in God’s work, and to see how he is already working. BreakAway reminded me I only need to bring a humble and willing heart and allow Christ to work through me.
Grace Gibbs is a sophomore and serves as Trip Logistics Coordinator on BreakAway cabinet. BreakAway is a spring break ministry that allows students to serve in teams in different parts of the country for a week. To learn more about BreakAway, visit their website.
Photo Captions: Grace (right) paints a house on BreakAway with her fellow team members; the Savannah, Georgia 2015 BreakAway team; BreakAway cabinet 2016.
Tags: My Wheaton, Student Activities, The Liberal Arts, Internship, Global and Experiential Learning
Wheaton's Human Needs and Global Resources program (HNGR) was in large part the deciding factor for why I came to Wheaton. I have wanted to do HNGR since I first heard about it as a junior in high school and met with former director Dr. Paul Robinson to learn more about the program. Last year, after much preparation and growth, I departed for my HNGR internship in Jinotepe, Carazo, Nicaragua to work with an incredible organization called Fundación San Lucas Nicaragua, which is a part of the Luke Society, a network of integral health-based Christian ministries directed and operated by local people. San Lucas serves rural communities in the dry-tropical, coastal region of Carazo to promote health and well-being by working in food security, water & sanitation, and risk prevention and management with a specific focus on women and children.
As an environmental science major with a passion for agriculture and soils, I worked with the food security team, shadowing and being apprenticed by two caring and intelligent agronomists as they facilitated agricultural workshops with small-holder farmers, worked to plant, weed, and water the crops in San Lucas’s Agriculture and Appropriate Technologies Experimental Center, and responded to a crippling climate change induced drought caused by El Niño. This drought and the way that my host organization and the farmers in the communities where we worked responded to it characterized life in Nicaragua for me more than anything else. Never before have I spent so much time thinking about, asking about, and praying for rain. Rain means life for subsistence farmers who have no other means of income or sustenance but for the basic grains they are able to cultivate on their small plots of land. When the rain fails to fall, everything is lost: seed, food, water. Drought devastates and the most vulnerable suffer. I learned though, that drought does not have the last word – life does. When all else failed, faith sustained. Together with the farmers and coworkers I befriended, I learned how to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not be in want” with trust while lacking the basic necessities for life.
Kelly Wilson '16 is a senior studying environmental studies. Learn more about Wheaton's HNGR program on their website.
Photo caption: Kelly working in the field with Fundación San Lucas Nicaragua during her HNGR internship in Nicaragua in 2015.
Tags: My Wheaton, Student Activities
The first time I realized I wanted to start a business was last year. I was sitting in my microfinance class as my professor explained that even if a woman was forced into prostitution through human trafficking, she could still be stuck with a criminal record and have difficulty finding work outside of the sex industry.
The injustice of it was hard for me to stomach. I had to do something for those women.
I've dreamed of designing dresses that are made sustainably for years, especially as I become more aware of the horrific labor practices used in the fashion industry. When I heard about the need for jobs for survivors of the sex industry, I saw how my love for clothes and heart for disenfranchised women could actually fit together beautifully.
Over the next year, "Flourish" took shape. The idea was to sell sustainably made dresses by employing victims of sexual violence. I read all I could on the issue but wasn’t sure what to do next until Anna Morris, the Director of Student Alumni Board, suggested I participate in Wheaton's Shark Tank last fall. I figured it was time to put all of my research to use and really develop my dream. By participating in Shark Tank, Flourish came together through a series of events, people, and “lightbulb moments” that the Lord wove together over the years.
Winning Shark Tank was huge for me. To have other people get behind this dream has been really humbling and encouraging. It’s one thing to have a crazy idea to combine fashion with social justice and another to have someone believe that you can do it and offer you resources to help make it a reality.
I don’t know what comes next, but I sincerely believe the Lord will continue to connect me with the right people and put me in the right places to grow this vision. I’m eager to see how He will provide for Flourish in the coming months.
Presented by the Student Alumni Board and Opus, Shark Tank is an entrepreneurial competition among Wheaton College students modeled after the eponymous television show. Mary Elizabeth Goodell '16 was announced the winner on February 18th.
Photo Captions: Mary Elizabeth after winning Wheaton Shark Tank; Mary Elizabeth presenting her company Flourish at Shark Tank last Thursday; Mary Elizabeth with friends at the Chicago Art Institute.