Making Wheaton a Home

It took little to convince Weslie Wilkin ’23 to go to Wheaton College. But thanks to alumni support and on-campus accessibility services, she was able to stay.

Words: Eliana Chow ’21

Wheaton College IL WheatonGives Scholarship Weslie Wilkin

“I’m so blown away by how caring and generous Wheaton’s alumni are, even when they may not know my whole story.”

It was something like love at first sight when political science major Weslie Wilkin ’23 first heard about Wheaton College. While scrolling through her social media feed one day, she came across an online advertisement for the College. The more she explored Wheaton’s website, clicking between pages about Arena Theater, faculty, intentional community, and Christ-centeredness, the more Wilkin realized this was a place she wanted to call home.

“As a senior in high school, I couldn’t imagine attending a college that wasn’t faith-centered,” Wilkin said. “God had to be at the center of it all. I loved knowing that, at Wheaton, all my classes would connect with each other academically and spiritually.”

Wilkin has had to navigate several challenges during her undergraduate years, but she’s approached them head-on with persevering courage and a strong Wheaton community that has rallied around her. For example, living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS, a chronic illness) presents its own hurdles on a day-to-day basis for Wilkin.

“It’s often hard for me to get to class and other activities because of pain, which has been really difficult,” Wilkin said. “But I’ve seen a lot of light through that. So many professors and friends around Wheaton are there to encourage and support me spiritually and academically.”

The Learning and Accessibility Services (LAS) center on campus has also stepped in to provide Wilkin with tailored academic accommodations such as extra class skips or scheduled rest breaks mid-class. With on-campus housing, Wilkin has been able to secure ground-floor or otherwise accessible dorms and apartments thanks to the advocacy of LAS staff.

Additionally, Wilkin is paying her own way through college, an emotional and financial stressor amid her academic and social responsibilities. She candidly shares that there have been several times throughout the past couple of years when she wasn’t sure if she would be able to graduate from Wheaton. Her professors in the political science department would pray for her well-being and endurance every week, including asking God to provide the necessary funds. And time and time again, donors came forward to supply scholarship money. Now Wilkin can proudly say she will graduate in December 2023, after two and a half years of diligent commitment to her undergraduate coursework.

One such scholarship was the WheatonGives Scholarship, established in 2022 by an anonymous donor to be given to two students each year. During the College’s annual giving day, contributors can nominate a student of their choice to receive one of the $5,000 scholarships.

“Finding out I had received that scholarship was a huge load off my shoulders,” Wilkin said. “I was able to cut back on some of my work hours and spend more time on my academics and building relationships.”

Although she has not directly experienced campus life at other colleges, Wilkin has noticed that the extent to which Wheaton alumni invest in their alma mater is far greater than those from many schools her friends attend.

“I’m so blown away by how caring and generous Wheaton’s alumni are, even when they may not know my whole story,” she said. “Without this scholarship and others from Wheaton donors, I wouldn’t have been able to come back to Wheaton. The amount of help I’ve received has inspired me to do the same in the future.”