For the first time in my life, I had to face winter. And not just any winter, but a record Chicago winter. Prior to coming to Wheaton, I had never seen or touched snow before. The high elevation in my home country of Rwanda always provided cool weather throughout the whole year, with 82F average high and 58F average low. So my Kinyarwanda language did not even have the vocabulary word for snow. The cold winter was one of many new and exciting things I was able to experience during my first year at Wheaton College Graduate School.
I just completed my first year in the M.A. in Systematic Theology program. I had many challenges at the beginning of my program, such as adjusting to the rigorous pace of graduate studies and speaking and writing in English, my fourth language. But Wheaton College offered me the best studying environment that I could ever imagine. I lived with four roommates who were also international students, and each of us was from a different continent; what a great blessing! Though we all came from different cultures, we had a common culture of being Christian brothers.
I also had to leave my wife Hope and our three children: Moses (11), Esther (8), and Sandra (4) in Rwanda when I started my Theology program. Though I was apart from my family, Wheaton College became my family away from family. The Christian interaction between students, professors, and staff provided an excellent learning environment. Professors at Wheaton are so amazing! I always wondered how these professors are so knowledgeable, yet so very humble. They are not only academic professors, but also spiritual mentors.
Back at home, I am a church planting pastor and a theology teacher, where I serve as the General Secretary of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Rwanda; an association of indigenous churches that a team of 12 pastors and I founded in 2007. Since then, we have planted 33 more churches to bring our total number of churches to 45. This summer, I look forward to being home in Rwanda with my family and to return to my ministry. The first year is already gone and it seems that the time was so quick. I look forward to finishing my second year with great courage.
There I was, sitting casually in Dr. Barrett McRay’s class, sneakily checking my phone, when I let out a shriek. Before I knew it, everyone’s eyes were turned to me. I couldn’t unglue my eyes from the subject line of my most recent email: “Federal Bureau of Investigation—Congratulations!”
Over the next few weeks, as I weighed the offer to accept an internship with the FBI in Chicago, I reminisced about the excitement I felt when I met my first FBI agent in middle school. There was the idea of working for something greater than yourself: for justice.
Today I sit at my desk at the Bureau downtown, amazed at the chain of events that have occurred since I was offered my internship over a year ago. I’ve gone through a polygraph test, background investigation, internship credits, a hiring freeze, job applications, and an endless amount of questions: What does the future hold? Why do I really want to work for the FBI? And furthermore, can a career with the U.S. government build the Kingdom of God?
As I reflect on my years at Wheaton, I can’t pinpoint a specific class, experience, or individual person that has brought me to the place I am now. I wish we offered a class called “Working for the Kingdom of God and the FBI at the Same Time,” but that hasn’t made it into the course catalog (yet). What I can pinpoint is that my time at Wheaton has instilled in me an innate desire to use all I have to build the Kingdom of God.
Each day I walk into the office with a few questions on my mind: What is my ministry? How can I share experiences and interact with my co-workers in a manner that exudes Christ’s love? Each of these questions have been formed, honed, and modeled for me through my classes, conversations, and experiences at Wheaton.
What was a seed planted in my life by the living Gospel has been cultivated during my time at Wheaton. My desire to serve Christ’s Kingdom has been stroked, pruned, broken, challenged, revived, and most of all, empowered. It’s painted on a stone by Admissions, and proven in the lives of the people on this campus: Wheaton College truly stands “For Christ and His Kingdom.”
Somehow, for some reason, my resume was plucked out of a stack of hundreds as I made it to FBI Chicago with a badge and a desk—but also with so much more. The Lord has given me the unique opportunity to join the FBI, but Wheaton has given me a passion for Christ, for His Kingdom, and an army of believers to share this passion with. It is with this hope and truth that I step out in faith every day to build the Kingdom of God.
This post was written by a Wheaton College student who is currently working for the FBI and must remain anonymous
When I enrolled in Wheaton for my freshman year, I did not imagine I would be on the FOX 32 Chicago News set my senior year. I chose to pursue an Applied Health Science major because of my passion for health and science, and because of a mission trip I took to Haiti during my sophomore year that helped me better understand the global health crisis. I decided to take Wheaton’s intro to journalism class during my senior year to help me develop a platform to raise awareness for health issues around the world, and my professors encouraged me to apply for internships at broadcast news stations around Chicago. This semester I was given the opportunity to join FOX 32 Chicago News.
Initially I thought it would be difficult to arrive at work at the crack of dawn, but the energy at FOX during Good Morning Chicago makes it impossible to be tired. Reporters and anchors hustle and bustle about the station with their scripts in one hand and coffee cup in another, while editors and producers crank out final details of their work. On busy mornings, especially those during which controversial topics are aired, the phone rings off the hook while viewers call to voice their feedback. Every time I’ve been in the station, I feel like a sponge absorbing information. It’s all new and exciting! I’ve been immersed into a new culture and have been given the opportunity to learn a whole new language…because let me tell you, the TV industry speaks a language all their own!
My biggest challenge as an intern is deciding which opportunities to seize. Many times my supervisor assigns me a task, whether it’s helping the investigative producer find guests for the morning show, observing an editorial meeting, or going on assignment with a reporter and camera crew. Other days, it’s up to me to decide! I have spent a couple hours watching the editors work, learning to master the language of the run-downs for the morning show, and digging up old scripts from news anchors to rehearse on my own. I’ve made an effort to seek out individuals from each and every position at the station, from a cameraman to an anchor, and pick their minds about everything they do!
Learning is not limited to the nuts and bolts of the news industry—I’m thankful for the way Wheaton’s liberal arts curriculum has prepared me for a variety of assignments on the job. My internship also forces me to be up to date on current events, and I’m also given opportunities to be a part of the news. My faith has given me courage to pursue the adventure God has laid out for me in downtown Chicago, and while my dream is to become a health and science broadcast reporter, I’m open and beyond excited to whatever God has in store for me in the weeks leading up to graduation!
This is Alyssa Paulsen, your local news intern with FOX 32 Chicago.
Alyssa Paulsen '14 is pursuing an Applied Health Science major with involvement in Wheaton’s journalism certificate program. She plans to pursue a career in broadcast journalism focusing on health and science.
One of the main reasons I chose to attend Wheaton College was the school’s excellent athletic program. I had the incredible opportunity to be part of both the football and swim teams, both of which won Conference titles during my collegiate career. My time with both teams was a challenging yet wonderful experience, but I realized that neither of these sports were truly my passion. During my junior year I took some time to do some soul searching, and before I knew it, God opened my eyes to the answer that was always right in front of me: music.
Music had always been a passion of mine. During the off-season, I took part in open mics at the Stupe (our campus café), helped with on-campus concerts at the Conservatory of Music and at Edman Chapel, and wrote music reviews for the Wheaton College newspaper, The Record. After discovering an area of my life with endless possibilities, I wondered what my next step would be.
By chance, at a concert in downtown Chicago, I ran into a Wheaton grad who told me about her experience at the Contemporary Music Center, a semester-long study abroad experience sponsored by CCCU BestSemester in Nashville, Tennessee (BestSemester hosts programs for Christian college students all around the world). She explained how the CMC offers Christian college students from across the country an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of music industry, while putting to practice their faith in the world of music. I jumped at the chance to learn more about the music industry, and was accepted into the program for fall semester 2013.
The CMC is a program unlike any other in the country. I was accepted into the Business track (there are artist and technical tracks, too), and attended classes concentrating on booking shows, promoting, and touring. I also managed two up-and-coming artists in the program. I scheduled rehearsal times for each artist’s band, created online websites and social media presences for them, and catered to any other desires they had, such as photo shoots and music video opportunities. The icing on the cake of the semester arrived when I had the honor of being selected as tour manager: I had the responsibility of booking shows, hotels, bus rental, and equipment trucks for our 10-day live tour through Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. In the midst of all of this, I was able to find time to continue to create music and perform with aspiring artists from all across the country.
I fell in love with Nashville, and this wasn’t only because of the music, creativity, and wonderful people I met, but the fact that I was experiencing “the real world.” It was a time of growth for me—not only in the field of music, but for my love and pursuit of Christ. I am so thankful for my preparation at Wheaton and the BestSemester study abroad program for the opportunity. I challenge all students to take a semester to explore, learn, and grow in a field of interest, and more importantly, in their pursuit of Jesus Christ.
Tim Lyons will graduate from Wheaton in May 2014 with a degree in Communication (Media Studies).
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.