#MyWheaton Alumni Blog

A Passion for Filmmaking

Posted December 16, 2016 by Justin Lovett '14

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Q: How did you “land” your current job? 

A: My career in film and photography has led me to 14 countries in the last two years. From Lebanon to Bangladesh, I have been filming and learning the challenges of covering stories overseas as a contractor for different film companies. 

I have also been able to complete films here in the U.S., and am most proud of the video above because it is very personal to me—it is about my grandpa. I filmed it with Great Big Story (a branch of CNN), and was able to shoot and direct it. This story helped me realize that the stories I am personally interested in are also interesting to a larger audience. I loved seeing how people reacted to this video online, and how my grandpa reacted to it when he found out 100,000 people had seen him and his horse Zaxon. To give some context, my grandpa lives in a town with 600 people. The nearest city to him has 2,000 people. He doesn't have internet or a cell phone. After this video was made and posted online, he was famous in his town of 600. People he never talked to before told him they had seen him online. He still has not gotten internet. 

I am currently working on a video about microfinance and how it is being used in four different countries: China, Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh. I got this job through a consulting company that I met in Cambodia while visiting my girlfriend. A little piece of advice on job hunting: “No matter where you are, always be ready to help others with the tools you have; you never know how that connection may help you in the future.” 

What has been a highlight of your current job? 

The biggest highlights of my current job are being able to travel and shoot in four different countries and learning about microfinance. I didn’t know anything about how much microfinance is helping the poor before this job. 

What has been one challenge within your current job that you have overcome? 

The first thing that pops in my head is exhaustion. It is exhausting to travel to four different countries and interact with four different cultures, languages, and cities. I have to have a lot of grace for myself. I make a hundred mistakes everyday. 

How did Wheaton prepare you for the career/vocation you are pursuing today? 

I think the most influential classes I took at Wheaton were my photography classes with Professor Greg Schreck. I specifically remember one documentary photography class where I documented the life of a Ugandan refugee living in Wheaton. It taught me a lot about how a camera can be used to tell another person’s story, the way a camera can be used to break the ice and become friends with another person, and the power of images to tell a person’s story to others. 

What advice or encouraging words do you have to share with Wheaton students today? 

Study really hard, but don’t make your main focus your grades—instead, focus on what you are learning. Life is about learning, and life gives you opportunities to learn all the time. If you let your grades guide what you are learning, you are going to miss out on the lessons that life teaches you along the way. Basically, always have a learning attitude whether you are in class, at the cafeteria, working, etc. Also, let your passion guide what you are learning. Study abroad, get an internship, work somewhere off campus. College is only a part of your life at the moment—it is not your whole life. Work as hard as you possibly can. You may think you are stressed at the moment, but believe me, what you are facing right now is child’s play compared to what you will be facing in five years. You can handle it. 

Don’t take yourself or life too seriously. Understand you are a very small piece in this world, and the most important people you should be worried about influencing are the ones six feet away from you. 

Get a job, make money, save money, and then know when you have to spend money to make more money. And get advice from your professors, not your peers. 

Why are you thankful for your Wheaton experience? 

I am very thankful for Wheaton because it offers a liberal arts degree with great professors. I really appreciate the vast knowledge that my Wheaton education provided me with. It gave me a great tool belt to pull ideas and knowledge from while I work on stories in film and photography. 

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Justin Lovett ’14 graduated from Wheaton with a degree in Communication (Media Studies) with a minor in photography. He currently works as a freelance videographer. View his videos and portfolio on his website

To connect with alumni in various careers and vocations nationwide, join Wheaton in Network, a Vocation and Alumni Engagement program that allows alumni and parents to make themselves available to advise or mentor Wheaton students and recent grads. Students and alumni are able to contact advisers or mentors to learn from their experiences.

How Marriage and Family Therapy Prepared Me for Ministry

Posted December 7, 2016 by Fiona Arthurs M.A. '15

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It was during the celebration of my bachelor’s degree that someone mentioned the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program at Wheaton College’s Graduate School to me. The thought of continuing my studies at this prestigious college had never occurred to me, and I was not sure if I would even be accepted. As I considered applying, I realized that strengthening marriages had been a passion of mine for many years. I had spoken on the topic both in the United States and abroad, and as I worked alongside my husband, Paul, who is Lead Pastor of Wheaton Christian Center, we knew that there was something missing in our counseling sessions. 

With both a personal passion and ministry need, I applied to Wheaton’s MFT program. As I moved through the program, I was most attracted to the integration of faith and learning. It was during the time I was enrolled in the program that my husband and I became burdened by visiting several of our youth in the DuPage County Jail. We knew something had to change. As I studied the effects of mental illness in African-American families, I knew that I had to be a part of the solution. The tipping point for me was when I was in a MFT class with Dr. Jake Johnson, learning about a day in the life of a Chicago teenager. My heart broke and I realized that we had to help stop the cycle of trauma and recidivism (a person's relapse into criminal behavior) in the African-American community. 

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Out of this passion, I co-founded the Carlton Center of DuPage and Kane Counties (CCKD). CCKD provides anger management resources, substance abuse counseling, job-readiness and life skills training, and other services to juvenile offenders and at-risk youth. In addition, spiritual and psychotherapy counseling services and parenting classes are offered to the youth and their families. Our goal is to help reduce the recidivism rate in the African-American population, which research shows is quite high. We want to do something to change the trajectory of youth who often lack parental monitoring, resources, and good role models. We are currently working with Kane County Probation Services to provide the required services. 

My time in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Wheaton College taught me to appreciate my own vulnerability so that I can now walk alongside others in their times of need. The knowledge I received was comprehensive and life-changing. I am grateful to have received this opportunity to develop myself in ways that allow me to continue pursuing God’s call on my life.

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Fiona Arthurs M.A. ’15 received a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the Wheaton College Graduate School. She is a women’s ministry pastor at Wheaton Christian Center, author of Foolish Things Wives Do to Mess Up Their Marriages (EGEA Publications, 2015), and is co-founder of the Carlton Center of DuPage and Kane Counties (CCKD). Photo captions (from top): Fiona speaks to an audience of over 15,000 in Harare, Zimbabwe, on healing emotional wounds from childhood—the audience included government officials and women from all walks of life; Fiona with The Carlton Center Staff on their first day of classes in Spring of 2016—all staff are volunteers and have various backgrounds including criminal justice, law enforcement, education, and more. 

To connect with alumni in various careers and vocations nationwide, join Wheaton in Network, a Vocation and Alumni Engagement program that allows alumni and parents to make themselves available to advise or mentor Wheaton students and recent grads. Students and alumni are able to contact advisers or mentors to learn from their experiences. To learn more about Wheaton College Graduate School programs, connect with Wheaton College Graduate School Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now.

From Wheaton to Television Production in Australia

Posted November 18, 2016 by Yeesum Lo '09

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yeesum-loThe past ten years of my life have included living in five cities and an adventure at every turn. God has surprised me in so many ways with how He has brought me from my hometown of Hong Kong, to Wheaton, to New York, to Los Angeles, and finally, to my current place in Sydney, Australia. 

My career in entertainment started at Wheaton, crewing on small digital projects late at night in the Smith/Traber basement, producing an embarrassingly bad class film, directing short films with my favourite Improv troupe, “Faux Posse,” when Marty Jones ’10 and Tim Hunt ’10 hosted the Talent Show. In my second year, I landed a summer internship at NBC Universal in New York City and effectively started my first real job in television. I met a producer through Dr. Ken Chase (who was kind enough to make an introduction even though I didn’t take any classes with him!) and relocated to Los Angeles as an associate in that producer’s media company after I graduated. Shortly thereafter, I was accepted into the University of Southern California’s Peter Stark Producing Program—a highly regarded MFA program at the world’s best film school. From there, I was placed in an internship, which turned into a full-time job at what was then Reveille Productions (“The Office,” “Ugly Betty”). Today, I work for Endemol Shine Australia, the Australian arm of Endemol Shine Group, one of the largest global television production houses in the world—home of “MasterChef,” “Big Brother,” “Deal or No Deal,” “Black Mirror,” and many more. 

I wake up every morning and head to work with Dr. Leland Ryken’s words in my ears—that is, to avoid the “cheap and tawdry”—even now that I am almost eight years into a career in entertainment. In the world of reality television where the mandate is often to create “car crash TV,” avoiding the superficial is certainly a tall order. I have been given wonderful opportunities to work with industry mentors, senior producers, and business executives who have made immense efforts to go beyond their call of duty and promote a culture that values integrity and inspiration in storytelling; who go against the grain in an industry culture that rewards deceit and scandal. It is an immense responsibility to play a part in bringing the human narrative of our generation to a global audience and shaping our culture in ways both big and small. I certainly know that I approach all the work that I do with a deep respect for integrity, always considering how we can use the influence we have to influence more people for the better. 

The industries that seem farthest and most discordant with our faith and the values that accompany it are always the ones that are most in need of the messages of hope and grace. While it never seems to get any easier, the daily challenges, the many failures, and the moments of redemption strengthen our faith. Wheaton was a safe space for me to foster my interest in the entertainment field (I still remember the rush of seeing my work on the Edman Chapel screen), but more importantly, my education at Wheaton gave me a firm foundation of faith to stand on as I boldly pursue a career in the media industry. 

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Yeesum Lo ’09 graduated from Wheaton with a degree in English literature and a minor in biblical and theological studies. She went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts - Peter Stark Producing Program in 2012, and currently works as a Corporate Project Manager and Producer at Endemol Shine Australia. Yeesum has worked on global television formats including “The Voice,” “MasterChef,” “The Biggest Loser,” and many more. She also produced The Great Australian Spelling Bee, something that her English major “played a huge part in making [her] qualified for.” Photo captions (from left): Yeesum working on set at Fox Studios Australia; Yeesum on the set of The Voice.

To connect with alumni in various careers and vocations nationwide, join Wheaton in Network, a Vocation and Alumni Engagement program that allows alumni and parents to make themselves available to advise or mentor Wheaton students and recent grads. Students and alumni are able to contact advisers or mentors to learn from their experiences.


Every Saying Has a Beginning, and Some Never End

Posted November 11, 2016 by Wallace Alcorn '52 M.A. '59

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raymond-edmanAt an especially dark moment in my life, because it was a dark season in my attempt to minister pastorally, God scheduled the light I needed at a distant event I had decided to skip. Thirty-eight years ago, I drove north in Minnesota to moderate a session as state chairman of our association of churches in the morning. I excused myself to hurry home for an especially difficult funeral that afternoon. Presumably enough by then, I had decided to skip a training session required of me as an army reserve chaplain. Without being aware of changing my mind, I changed into uniform and drove to Clear Lake, Iowa. I reported in as the first day’s sessions were ending. 

The next morning began with devotions by the newly assigned staff chaplain of Fifth United States Army, up from his headquarters at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. This was Chaplain Colonel Duncan Stewart ’47, with whom I had worked in his previous assignment as executive director of the Armed Forces Chaplain Board. 

He told the group of chaplains he had managed to get in only two years of undergraduate work at Wheaton College when he was drafted into the army during World War II. After training as a combat medic, he was promptly deployed to one of the South Pacific islands we were invading. While caring for a wounded soldier, he was himself hit by a machine gun bullet. The projectile hit his spine, bounced around within his body, grazed a lung, and then exited. 

Both legs were paralyzed, and he lay helpless on a cot in the hospital tent, awaiting evacuation to the States for surgery. In that war, this took a long while and he waited with nothing happening. Sooner than he could have expected, a letter arrived from President V. Raymond Edman.  

The letter began abruptly without formalities: “The God who has been faithful to you and us in the past did not become unfaithful on or about 19 November 1944." So it began, and then its ending: “Never doubt in the darkness what God has made clear in the light.” 

Afterward in thanking Duncan, I said, “And I know how Dr. Edman signed it: ‘Cheerily, Me.’” He did, indeed. I had received such letters from Prexy when I moved in my ministries, although I never knew how he knew. 

So, too, had I heard him several times say (as I remember it), “Never doubt in the dark what God has made clear in the light.” I can’t count the times I have quoted Dr. Edman in sermons and even more often in private counseling. At this latest dark moment, I recalled it yet again and began to see light again.

Then Duncan told me privately what Prexy wrote between these portions he quoted. He had assured him of his own constant prayers and how students voluntarily held special prayer meetings in Pierce Chapel to pray for alumni and former students in harm’s way around the world. Shortly after receiving Dr. Edman’s cheery letter, Duncan began to sense feeling in his legs. Then he began to move them and then stand on them. Even before he could be evacuated, he was almost walking. The medical officers attributed this to his upper body activity releasing a pinched nerve, but Duncan felt Dr. Edman had provided the better account. 

Duncan Stewart, since deceased on January 2, 2001, told me one other thing that day in Iowa. After this veteran returned to the Wheaton campus, this time as a pre-seminarian, Dr. Edman confided he had never before used this now famous axiom, and he did the same day to another wounded former student. 

Dr. Wallace Alcorn ’52, M.A. ’59 is a minister, writer, and researcher with Wallace Alcorn Associates. Photo caption: President V. Raymond Edman writing at his desk in 1954. Photo courtesy of the Wheaton College Archives, Buswell Library.

How Wheaton Equipped Me for the Ministry of Fighting Fires

Posted November 4, 2016 by Ryan Kerns '15

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I am a firefighter/EMT in the Denver, Colorado metro area. We are an “all hazard” fire and rescue agency that responds to structure fires, medical emergencies, technical rescues, water rescues, wildfires, hazardous material incidents, and other emergency situations. 

I love going to work. while I still have much to learn about my job, I am surrounded by people who go out of their way to help me become a better public servant and man at literally any time of the day or night. We do not just work together as firefighters--we live together as a family. 

One of the greatest challenges about my job is seeing people who are deeply hurting. I see the realities of the world’s brokenness and sin in very raw ways on the job; however, as Chaplain Kellough once said to me, “God equips whom he calls,” and the mercy of God continues to provide me strength and hope daily. 

Many people are surprised that I ended up in the fire service after completing a degree in Christian education at Wheaton College, and ask me when I changed my mind. In reality, I never did. 

While I didn’t start dreaming this job until my senior year at Wheaton, I have felt drawn to this type of career for quite some time. My work goes beyond the job description--it provides an opportunity to build strong community, serve the oppressed, challenge false definitions of masculinity, and be a good steward of my gifts and abilities. The beautiful thing is that I learned all of these things at Wheaton. 

I also had the opportunity to play football at Wheaton for two years. During that time I grew tremendously and made incredible friends, but one of the best things that occurred was a career-ending injury. Over the course of a few weeks, I went from starting defensive end to water boy. While my first reaction was profound bitterness, I eventually realized that Jesus did not die for me because I could tackle quarterbacks or because I belonged to an outstanding team. 

Anyone who has lost something that defines them can relate. When I eventually got over myself, I came to see a lot of sin in my life that needed to go and a Savior who was willing to take all of it. I realized that I had no reason to boast in myself or my abilities, and that ultimately helped me learn how to see others as Christ sees me. In a job where it’s easy to grow tired of being compassionate, the ability to see each person I encounter with the eyes of Jesus is a total game changer. 

I hope we can realize that ministry is not exclusive to churches, non-profits, international missions, camps, etc. As those redeemed by Christ, we belong to a priesthood of believers in which there is no professional hierarchy. Though we are led into different vocations, the only reason that we have life at all is because Jesus first forgave us. Work is not a “necessary evil,” but an opportunity to love, serve, and honor God. 

My advice to Wheaton students is focus your efforts on loving others instead of appearing impressive. You will get far more out of your time at Wheaton and will be a better person for it. Embrace the concept of “relevant irrelevance,” and if you don’t know what that means, email me or ask Dr. Laura Barwegen. Also, observe the Sabbath. Busyness is overrated. The Creator is wise in commanding us to rest. After all, we find great meaning and abundant life not when we attempt to honor ourselves, but when we honor God and our neighbors. 

Ryan Kerns ’15 graduated with a degree in Christian education and ministry. He currently works as a firefighter/EMT in the Denver, Colorado, metro area. Photo caption: Ryan on shift in Denver. 

To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now. To connect with alumni in various careers and vocations nationwide, join Wheaton in Network, a Vocation and Alumni Engagement program that allows alumni and parents to make themselves available to advise or mentor Wheaton students and recent grads. Students and alumni are able to contact advisers or mentors to learn from their experiences. 

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