When I came to Wheaton, I expected it to be another four years of my high school experience. Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed high school, but I wanted college to be a new chapter of my life, not the rereading of an old one. During my senior year, I tried to stay away from any Christian college. I was headed straight for the most academically rigorous school out there, and I didn’t think a Christian school could give me the level of education I wanted.
At least, not until I came to Wheaton. When I visited, I became completely convinced that I could get a great Christian education. However, it wasn’t until I actually began to live here that I realized the value of the Wheaton community. In students, professors, everyone, the love of Christ shines brightly. If someone had told me that I would find a second family—most of which were within five years of my age—during the first year I came to Wheaton, I would have thought they were joking, but God provided.
As I began to grow in this community, I increasingly found quirky and idiosyncratic things about this place. I started to post and number the funniest, weirdest, and most impactful ones on Facebook as my very own Wheatonisms. Here are a few examples:
Wheatonism #4: “integration of faith and learning”
If you ever come to Wheaton, you’ll hear this over and over again, and thankfully, the professors mean it. I haven’t had a class yet in which the professor hasn’t connected the discipline with the Bible.
Wheatonism #10: People dress as Bible characters for Halloween
Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Not to mention Jesus…
Wheatonism #11: Chicken Finger Day in SAGA (Anderson Commons)
Chicken fingers come around once or twice a semester in the dining room, and trust me, you won’t understand until it happens. At home, I don’t even like chicken fingers. But here, it’s not just food; it’s part of the culture.
Wheatonism #19: Floating
Okay, so first, you craft a root beer float using two straws, then you find a couple that looks like they might be on a first date. (Bonus points if at least one of them is a close friend!) You walk up to the table sneakily, and put the float between them. Let the awkwardness begin!
Wheatonism #24: Professors Care
One of your profs begins to tear up as he says, "If anything I have taught you has been of Christ, hold on to it. If anything I have taught has not been of Christ, I pray that God would cast it away from you. At the end of the day, I hope you saw Christ, not me, in this class." Needless to say, there was a rush of applause at the end of that day, for we did see Christ in that room, every day we were in it. However, it was not merely the level of respect for God's word and honest search for its understanding which won our hearts and ears, but also the care for the lives of each and every one of his 100+ students, shown partly by the fact that he knew ALL of our names.
So all in all, my freshman year a Wheaton has been great so far! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings. But a piece of advice to all of you prospective students out there: If you want to find a place where people search for God wholeheartedly, love each other in community, and seek for knowledge deeply, come to Wheaton. That’s who we are.
With more than 200 music majors and highly qualified faculty, the Wheaton Conservatory of Music has become a notable center in music education. I interviewed Hong Kong native and Music Composition major, Elliot Leung '17 about why he came to Wheaton and what his experience has been so far in the conservatory.
Alex: Why did you decide on coming to the Wheaton Conservatory?
Elliot: It's always been a dream to compose music for video games and movies. I hope I make it there one day. I've been doing a lot of both amateur music and composing work in Hong Kong, writing music for my school and a company called Tony Films Co. I knew Marty O’Donnell, the composer for Halo (one of the video games I play a lot) came to Wheaton and heard about the great composition program. So, I decided to follow his footsteps - attend Wheaton College for composition and later go to USC for the great Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television (SMPTV) degree.
Alex: How has your experience been at Wheaton as an international student?
Elliot: I grew up in an international Christian school in Hong Kong, so the Christian environment is similar. I love the professors here - they make everything interesting. Professors really want you to succeed here, so they'll try their best to make sure you do. Because Wheaton is a smaller school, and I have completed courses such as Digital Music 300, I'm also able to use the studios a lot. I love the many opportunities I get to compose soundtrack music, both in and outside of school. I'm currently scoring a 10-episode series called "Taking the Land Open" for the Athletic department.
Alex: What is your favorite class?
Elliot: As of now, my favorite class has to be music notation, Dr. Gordon makes it so funny. I don't remember a class where I did not laugh. Besides that, it's a small class, (5 people), so we all get to know each other really well.
Alex: What are you majoring in?
Elliot: I always tell people that I am majoring in soundtrack composition, though the degree I'm going to receive through Wheaton is Music Composition. The specialization degree takes an extra year to complete.
Alex: What do you hope to do with your degree?
Elliot: I have been set on getting into the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program at the University of Southern California since day one and have been studying for this even while I was in Hong Kong. What I learn in class is great and also helps with film/video game scoring, but in addition, I immerse myself into reading, listening, and composing for a lot of side projects.
Check out Elliot playing the cello in this year's Christmas card!
In order to give students the opportunity to confront human needs issues throughout the world, Wheaton founded the Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program. By partnering with organizations worldwide, this program integrates classroom study with service-learning internships. I contacted current HNGR intern, Heather Kaufmann and asked her to share the experiences she is encountering in Bolivia:
As a HNGR intern these past 6 months, I have been living and working in Cochabamba, Bolivia with a non-profit called Mosoj Yan. My main project here has been teaching photography at a safe house for young women who have suffered abuse. I’ve also had the opportunity to do some qualitative research interviewing artists and art teachers in Cochabamba, and quantitative research on what life looks like for the ex-beneficiaries of the safe house.
A significant portion of my time here was spent learning how best to teach art therapy to teens—I have learned that empowerment, healing, and self-expression, at least in this specific case, are best achieved outside the classroom and that perhaps the best way for these objectives to be reached is for me to give my students as much freedom as possible. The photography class culminates this coming weekend in an exhibition of the girls’ best work, which I hope will bring home to them the message that their artwork has worth, and that by extension they do as well.
HNGR for me has been a time filled with personal and spiritual growth, language learning, relationship-building, and lots of heaping plates of Bolivian food. But more importantly, my time here has given me a deeper understanding of issues related to poverty and injustice, and furthermore my role in relation to them. Working and living with these issues gives them a different face—one that is more personal but also more realistic and complex. They are not easy issues to solve, but I think I am learning to rejoice in the small achievements and successes just as much as the big ones.
To better understand the different programs at Wheaton, I recently interviewed two students, Elizabeth Schriver and Lauren Carini about their experiences within the Pre-Law program.
Alex: Do you have to major in a specific subject in order to be Pre Law?
Lauren: Not at all. For one thing, you can be part of the Pre-Law unofficial group without completing the Pre-law certificate. As far as law school applications, most majors are acceptable. If you have any idea what kind of law you want to practice, you might angle yourself according to those interests, but generally speaking, I would suggest doing something that you are interested in and passionate about right now.
Elizabeth: That is a great thing about Pre-Law. I am a Sociology major, but other Pre-Law students are Political Science, Philosophy, Business/Econ, English, etc.
Alex: Are you participating in any extra-curricular activities within the Pre-Law program?
Elizabeth: Currently I am working as a research assistant and a teaching assistant. I have had two internships with attorneys in previous semesters and was a member of Wheaton's Mock Trial team last year.
Lauren: I am participating in Mock Trial, which I have been a part of for my junior and senior years.
Alex: What is one of your favorite classes you have taken within your Pre-Law program?
Lauren: Honestly, I think that one of the most valuable components to the Pre-Law certificate was the opportunity to do a legal internship. As a Spanish major, that experience was some of the most practical exposure I got and really helped me to apply the basics that I was learning in class and get a real-world understanding of what I said I wanted to do.
Alex: Do you recommend taking any specific classes in high school that would help within your program?
Elizabeth: The skills that have been most helpful to me in the Pre-Law program have been the abilities to read critically and write clearly. Taking the time to develop logical reasoning and writing skills while in high school is a wise investment!
Alex: Do you have any advice to prospective students looking to be a part of this program?
Elizabeth: I would advise prospective students to take Professor Bretsen's Introduction to Law course as soon as they can. It is truly an excellent introductory course that will provide students with a taste of what other law related courses will be like. Further, it provides students with a chance to get to know Professor Bretsen, Wheaton's Pre-Law advisor.
Lauren: Take advantage of the opportunities offered to you. Professor Bretsen works hard at trying to make the program effective and engaging presence on campus. Avail yourself of the resources you find there. There are plenty of Wheaton alumni in the legal profession and many of them are only too happy to help you out where they can. Make those connections as often as possible.