#MyWheaton

Why I Came to Wheaton's Conservatory of Music

Posted September 23, 2016 by Abigail Beerwart '19

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In all honesty, Wheaton wasn’t even on my radar when I was looking for a college to attend. Sure, I had heard of it, but it wasn’t a name that I had committed to memory. I wanted to be in an incredible music program, especially one that excelled in the vocal/opera department. I was convinced, however, that a Christian school just could not meet my standards. But now I see just how wrong I was!

I had some family friends practically beg me to check out Wheaton–their son graduated from Wheaton a few years back with a piano performance degree–so I finally, although somewhat grudgingly, agreed to visit. I scheduled an appointment to meet with Dr. Carolyn Hart, the Chair of Voice at the Conservatory of Music, so that I might understand what Wheaton had to offer for an aspiring opera singer such as myself. The arduous drive to Wheaton, which included driving through a blizzard, had my mother and I exchanging glances that asked, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” However, from the moment I set foot on campus, I knew that I had finally found it: my second home. 

Every individual with whom I interacted on that visit was warm, genuine, and overflowing with the love of Christ. The music program offered everything I could have possibly wanted: rigor, performance opportunities, and a huge focus on vocal health. Most importantly, I saw how the school truly did do everything “For Christ and His Kingdom.”

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When we finished our visit, my mother and I got in our car and sat for a moment before beginning our drive home. My mom asked, “So, what do you think?” For a beat I looked at the Conservatory before me, draped in a sparkling white robe of snow, before I turned to her and answered, “I can’t imagine going anywhere else!”

Jumping ahead to today, I am beginning my second year in Wheaton’s Conservatory of Music, and I have become friends with some of the kindest and most encouraging students and faculty imaginable. They genuinely care about me, pushing me to do more than I ever thought I could, and they lend a listening ear when I need it. My classes have propelled me forward, allowing me to understand and appreciate music like never before. My musicianship and vocal abilities have skyrocketed in ways that leave me dumbfounded. All of these wonderful experiences at Wheaton have solidified in me one simple, but meaningful, response: to praise God. 

The Conservatory of Music has fed me relationally, intellectually, musically, and spiritually, so obviously I still can’t imagine going to school anywhere else! That’s #MyWheaton.

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Abigail Beerwart ’19 is a sophomore studying vocal performance in opera through Wheaton College’s Conservatory of Music. Photo captions (from top): McAlister Hall, Wheaton's Conservatory of Music; student performers after the 2015 Opera Music Theater production of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde; Abigail with Conservatory of Music classmates. 

Exploring Culture and Community with Koinonia

Posted September 16, 2016 by Michael Chen '17

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wheaton-college-koinoniaI have no dramatic story about getting involved in Koinonia. A few upperclassmen invited a friend and I to a Koinonia Large Group gathering, so we went. Though I wasn’t formally involved in Koinonia aside from attending Large Groups, the social support networks I found through Koinonia really made a difference in my freshman experience. I looked up to the upperclassmen and regularly ate with them and even stayed with several juniors during spring break. One of those juniors became my mentor the next year and, though he now lives in Hong Kong, has remained a close friend.

The events drew me in but the extensive support network kept me involved. Through Koinonia, I was able to develop a much deeper  understanding of my racial/ethnic background. I still remember my freshman year Fall Retreat, where I learned to neither be ashamed nor prideful of my cultural background, but rather allow God to use it for Kingdom-building. This idea transformed my experiences at Wheaton: I used my Mandarin to tutor immigrant children at the Pui Tak Center in Chinatown, I resolved conflict with my mother, I went to China for a semester, and I am now looking for opportunities in China after graduation.

It’s hard to express the privilege I feel in leading an organization that has impacted my life so deeply. As president, I try to emulate the successes of Koinonia by engaging with culture and capitalizing on our strength as a strong support network; however I also push myself and the cabinet to consider areas that need improvement.

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Perhaps the biggest question our organization faces this year is how to best plan for the future. The face of Wheaton is changing as Asian students now constitute over 10 percent of the undergraduate population, and with this comes both opportunity and responsibility: we have the opportunity to bring forward Asian and Asian American voices to help develop a more full  picture of God and His Kingdom here at Wheaton; we also have the responsibility to advocate for and serve these students. This semester, we will focus on identity formation through providing safe spaces for students to explore their backgrounds. In the spring we will focus on empowerment and equipping students to effectively articulate their identities and serve the community through their racial/cultural backgrounds.

 

I want to extend an open invitation for anyone to come to our Large Groups. These monthly events focus on informing all students on what it means to be Asian in America and offer a unique perspective on God and the Kingdom through an Asian lens. Our aim is not to become insular, but rather to provide spaces for people to engage in questions and discussions that are relevant to us all: Does God care about my background and experiences? How do I see my experiences through the lens of the Gospel? How has my culture shaped my faith?

 

Be on the lookout for our posters and emails! Feel free to contact me or another member if you have any questions.

 

Michael Chen ’17 is a senior studying sociology and history with a Chinese minor. Learn more about Koinonia on their website. Photo captions (from top): Students at Koinonia's Fall Retreat; students gather with their "family groups" to compete in the Family Group Olympics.

An Introduction to Unidad Cristiana at Wheaton

Posted September 7, 2016 by Carol Torres '17

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Unidad Cristiana is a place for students of Hispanic/Latino background to feel safe and at home. It is also a place for the rest of the student campus to come in and learn about our culture and our experiences as minorities, to try our diverse foods, and to learn more about what it means to be Hispanic. 

I have been involved in Unidad since my freshman year, and am serving as president this year. Unidad has been a comfortable place for me because I am able to share my experiences with people of my same culture and eat Hispanic dishes that reminded me of home. My experience as part of Unidad has also been empowering: I have been able to form my own beliefs about my identity as a Hispanic woman, which has led me to share those experiences with people that are very different from me. I have been able to expand my horizons and join other campus organizations, develop close relationships with professors, and appreciate the treasures Wheaton has to offer. 

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The highlight of my involvement with Unidad has been seeing our members grow and blossom. Seeing my peers expand their horizons by joining student organizations within Wheaton’s Office of Christian Outreach and Student Activities Office has been a joy to me. I like seeing people realize that being of different ethnicity does not limit you from doing things other people do. We are just as important, just as capable, and just as loved by Christ as anyone else. Seeing our members go out and make a difference with their distinct voices and opinions makes me proud. 

During previous years, Unidad has been growing and involving more people that are not of Hispanic/Latino background, and this year we want people to know that Unidad is not exclusive – it is open to everyone to come and learn about what it means to be Hispanic. We plan to create campus-wide events and collaborative events with other student organizations. We want to live out our organization name, Unidad, which means “unity.” We believe that once we start moving towards unity with everyone, then that will open the doors to conversations, learning, and a greater understanding of each other’s cultures. 

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Carol Torres '17 is a Spanish and Pre-nursing double major and is the president of Unidad Cristiana at Wheaton this year. To learn more about Unidad Cristiana, visit their website. Photo captions (from top): Unidad Cristiana members at Wheaton Bowling Alley; Students come together for a meal at the College Ave. apartments - Unidad hosts bimonthly dinners featuring various authentic Hispanic dishes; Unidad Cristiana members meet to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

My HoneyRock Passage Experience

Posted September 1, 2016 by Rachel Kane '20

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honeyrock-cabin-wheatonI had no clue what to expect when I officially signed up for Wheaton’s Passage program at HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College. I initially wasn’t going to do Passage because I grew up near HoneyRock. I’ve spent countless hours at HoneyRock attending church, going canoeing on a summer day, and even attended HoneyRock’s residential camp program in elementary school. I thought I was familiar with everything that went on there, and wasn’t sure if it would be worth it to go for a whole week before starting college at Wheaton. After encouragement from some friends, I decided to attend. Passage turned out to be a whole different experience than what I had originally thought it was going to be. 

Words cannot describe the beauty of the place. Our first night was spent by a fire under the northern Wisconsin stars, singing hymns. The excitement I felt is still indescribable. As I glanced around the fire at my classmates, I knew I made the right choice. The same faces I saw around the fire were the ones I got to develop friendships with and do fun activities with throughout the whole week. Six of those faces were in my cabin. The deep relationships we formed through teambuilding activities and around campfires will last throughout college. 

There were moments where having so many people around all the time was very overwhelming. There was constantly something going on and people to hang out with. If you walked from your cabin to the Chrouser Dining Hall you saw so many activities. From gaga ball, volleyball, frisbee, basketball, and even ceramics, people were everywhere. At times it was challenging for me to interact all the time. But, the great thing about HoneyRock is the ability to just break away and find a quiet place to put up your hammock and spend time with the Lord, free of any noise. HoneyRock provides perfect opportunities to just recharge. 

My favorite part of Passage was being immersed in God’s beautiful creation. We were able to worship our God while hearing the wind blow through the nearby trees and the birds singing in the distance. We had deep, meaningful discussions in canoes in the middle of the lake with our professor. I ran around the thick pine trees while playing outdoor games with my classmates. Having the great outdoors as my “classroom” was amazing. I was able to truly see God’s beautiful canvas and the nature He made. 

Passage has definitely made my transition into my first year at Wheaton easier. While walking around campus during my first day of class, I recognized multiple people I met at Passage. I still hang out with my friends from Cabin 2 and others I met along the way. The community we have developed since Passage is encouraging and fun. 

I am so glad I got to participate in this awesome experience, and I highly encourage everyone to do it! HoneyRock will always have a special place in my heart.

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Rachel Kane ’20 is an environmental science major who participated in the Wheaton Passage program last month. To learn more about Passage and other HoneyRock programs, visit HoneyRock’s website. Photo captions (from top): Rachel with her “Cabin 2” group discussing life and transitions on Long Lake’s waterfront at HoneyRock; Cabin 2 members during their service day project with Associate Professor of Theology Dr. Keith Johnson (center). The Cabin 2 group was able to do trail maintenance for the town of Three Lakes and help make the trail easier to ride on for local bikers and runners.

A Warm Welcome to Wheaton from your Student Body President

Posted August 24, 2016 by Josh Rowley '17

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If you walk into Lower Beamer this week you are likely to see a lot of new faces–some of them looking very nervous and anxious, others bursting with excitement and anticipation. These faces belong to the 641 new students about to begin an awesome journey here at Wheaton. As I think back about my time here, I can’t help but reflect on the ways in which this community has shaped me and grown me. I wonder though, what will this place be for these new students over the next several years of their lives? As Student Government this year our desire is that Wheaton continues to be a place of growth and encouragement for all of us, from freshmen just beginning to seniors preparing to take the next step in their journeys. 

In each of our lives Wheaton has given us some wonderful years along with some very difficult ones, but through the ups and downs Wheaton has come to be home. The sense of belonging many of us have found here is the driving force behind our desire as Student Government to foster a campus that can truly be called home by all students. It grieves us to know that there are students among us who feel ostracized, excluded, and alone. We want to hear these voices and welcome them in as a part of faithfully living together as brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Additionally, we see at Wheaton a beautiful community composed of individuals from all over the world with a huge diversity of perspectives and experiences. We are excited to delve into our differences as a campus, knowing that doing so will necessitate working through some hard issues. We realize that we will never attain perfect community together on this earth, but we sincerely desire another year of growth at Wheaton with the hopes of seeing a small glimpse of our eternal community. 

Finally, we are seeking to promote excellence in our academic and vocational pursuits at Wheaton. We are blessed to be studying at one of a select few institutions that has maintained its Christian foundation while continuing to offer highly-regarded academics. We believe that continuing to prepare well for life beyond the doors of Wheaton is an important part of our calling to go out into the world and serve Christ. 

It has been a privilege and blessing to begin working with my Vice President Elizabeth Tilley ’17, and the 15 members of our board. It is clear that the Lord has assembled a group of students who care deeply about our student body and whose life experiences have equipped them to serve our campus well this year. I am so excited for this year that we have together and trust that the Lord has great things in store for each of your lives and our campus. 

Josh Rowley ’17 is a senior economics major and Student Body President at Wheaton. Elizabeth Tilley ’17 is a senior math and secondary education major and Student Body Vice President. Photo caption: 2016-17 Student Government gathers at HoneyRock in August 2016. Top row (l to r): Brent Westergren, Ted Cockle, Emily Taetzsch, Audrey Gross, Jack McHenney, Elizabeth Tilley, Mady Reno, Alex Kuo, Charisa Fort, Rachel Lies. Bottom row: Simona Andreas, Josh Rowley, Caleb Guerrero, Matt Anderson, Jackie Westeren, Sade Bammimore. Not in photo: Alouette Greenidge, Michael Liu.

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