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.
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!