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#MyWheaton Blog

Posted May 7, 2015 by
Tags: My Wheaton Global and Experiential Learning

My Wheaton College Psychology and HDI Experience

I was hesitant as I walked through the doors of the Billy Graham Center for my interview with Wheaton College’s doctoral program in clinical psychology in January 2014. Is this place a good fit for me? I asked myself this and many other questions as I walked toward the conference room. 


As the interview process commenced, my hesitations and doubts quickly moved to excitement and hope as I talked with current Wheaton College Graduate School students and faculty. The students had passions to serve the underserved, and were being placed in positions where they could pursue this work. I talked with professors who conduct clinical practice and research that aligns with the school’s mission. As my interviews drew to a close, it was clear to me that Wheaton’s mission statement was not merely words—people were living these words out in their practice, profession, and daily lives. 

Once I was accepted to Wheaton’s Psy.D. program last spring, I immediately became a part of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) when I arrived in the Fall. HDI is a college-wide interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to helping the vulnerable and underserved, across a wide spectrum of relief and development challenges. I specifically wanted to join this research lab because it offers opportunities to do trauma and relief work both domestically and abroad—work I was involved with prior to coming to Wheaton. Specifically, I was able to plug into the work HDI is doing in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. One of the main goals of this lab is to create and implement a trauma curriculum for the refugees in order that they might continue this work within the camp. Our group has been traveling to the camp twice a year for the past two years, and this spring, over spring break, I was able to join the team as we conducted both a trauma and theology workshop for pastors and leaders within the camp. 

Opportunities that continue to challenge and stretch me both personally and professionally are what initially drew me to Wheaton. During my time with the resilient members of Kakuma, I was struck by the suffering and pain these people have experienced.  One pastor told us, “Trauma is our lives…” 
There is so much need in a place like Kakuma, and it can seem like such a hopeless place. But our HDI training gave the community some hope, and helped set them on the path toward healing. This is the reason I chose Wheaton. Not merely for their rigorous academic program, but also because I am given an opportunity to help bring hope to the suffering in unique ways. 
I look back to the day over a year ago when I hesitantly walked through the doors of Wheaton, wondering what it had to offer me. I now walk through the hallways excited about the ways it enables and equips me to serve others. I interact daily with students and professors who are living out our call to love and to serve, and I am challenged to do the same.  

Marianne Millen Psy.D. '19 is pursuing a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology at the Wheaton College Graduate School. Visit their websites to learn more about the Graduate School and the Humanitarian Disaster Institute’s global programs. Photo captions: Top: Marianne and her interpreter Nicholas Gagai leading the trauma healing workshop in Kenya. Middle: Mama Cecilia, a Congolese Refugee, writes notes during the training while refugees from South Sudan discuss in a group behind her. Above: The Kakuma Team gathers together outside of one of the UN’s compounds. From left: Benjamin Andrews, current Psy.D. student, Dr. George Kalantzis, associate professor of theology and director of the Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies, Dr. David Boan, co-director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, Marianne Millen, and Mark Schoenrock, partner from International Association for Refugees (IAFR).