Shawn Polizotto Mrakovich ’77

Marion E. Wade Center Special Projects Assistant

Words: Kailin Richardson ’21
Photos: Tony Hughes

512x768 winter 2022 profile

“I ride a unicycle, too.” Much like you might watch with surprise and delight as someone sails by on a unicycle, Shawn Mrakovich ’77 has glided gracefully into many unexpected things in her life.

In sixth grade, she decided she wanted to learn to ride a unicycle. So she did. She learned French from a woman in the neighborhood in junior high, and went on to study the language at Wheaton.

When she and her husband worked with middle schoolers at church, she found she wanted to pursue teaching. At Wheaton Christian Grammar School, that meant everything from French and social studies to volleyball and basketball.

After staying at home with her children and substitute teaching, she heard about an opening at Wheaton’s Wade Center from a friend. She applied, and got the job as the office coordinator in 2003.

As she stared at a blank wall in the two-year-old Wade Center shortly after she started, she asked, “Why doesn’t somebody make a display there?” The rest of the staff said, “Would you like to try?”

Shawn approaches ideas with both practicality and artistry. She is responsible for the detailed proofreading of the Wade Center’s scholarly journal VII and the bold, engaging displays that catch the eyes of children, college students, and adults alike, enchanted with the Center’s authors. Her responsibilities themselves draw on skills that are a bit paradoxical side-by-side, but as a self-professed Anglophile and a thinker, she fits right in with the space made for pondering, wondering, and adventuring.

Thus, Mrakovich stumbled upon her ability to design displays like a Pevensie climbing through fur coats into the winter snow of Narnia. “I didn’t know I had any of these abilities at all,” she says. Nonetheless, she loves the creative process and catching little details.

With this combination of skills, Shawn can also be found piecing together jigsaw puzzles or stained glass work. She and her husband love to visit England, and Shawn enjoys a variety of outdoor activities.

And, of course: Keep an eye out for Shawn on Wheaton’s streets. She still pulls out her unicycle from time to time, looking for unexpected discoveries.