The Best of Both Worlds: My Experience as a Conservatory of Music Student-Athlete

Posted March 24, 2017 by Alice Zhang '18

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My experience as a Conservatory of Music student-athlete has been a challenging and rewarding one. As a member of the swim team and as a double major participating in two Conservatory ensembles, I am fortunate to be a part of so many dynamic communities. 

Being a member of the Wheaton College swim team is one of the best decisions I have made. In my experience, the swim team is the most tight-knit and crazy community on campus, sewn together by numerous team activities, idiosyncratic inside jokes and pranks, and our fearless coaches. A highlight of mine as a Wheaton swimmer is competing in the CCIW Conference Championship in February. After months of relentless training, the team unites one last time and delights in each other’s athletic successes in a whirlwind of emotions. This experience is by far the best example of how the body of Christ is greater than the sum of the individuals. 

Managing these commitments requires a great deal of flexibility from my ensemble directors and coaches, and I have had to establish a balance between rehearsals, swim meets, and concerts early on. My teammates and fellow musicians have been very supportive of my endeavors, often filling me in after missed team meetings and rehearsals. I find that enlarging my perspective during the busy days is especially advantageous because it gives me a moment to see how God has blessed me with versatility and an ability to adapt in such distinct communities. 

For those interested in the athletics or Conservatory of Music programs at Wheaton College, I would encourage you to try one of these groups because I believe that participation in these groups is essential for a liberal arts education. I have discovered that the skills I have fostered in the pool, like discipline and mental toughness, are also integral parts of being a thriving student and musician, and vice versa. You will find that joining an extracurricular group—or multiple groups—will greatly enhance your Wheaton experience.


Alice Zhang '18 is a Music and Economics double major and is also taking elective studies in business. She is an active member of both the Symphonic Band and Symphony Orchestra at Wheaton, and the 2016-2017 academic year marked her third as a member of the Varsity Women's Swimming Team. Photo captions (top to bottom): a Symphony Orchestra performance; Alice and fellow swim team members.

To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now

My Cross-Cultural Experience with Wheaton Volleyball

Posted September 28, 2016 by Katie Rohrer '18

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When I was considering which college to go to, I knew I wanted to go to a school that would grow me spiritually as well as challenge me academically. Because my parents both went to Wheaton and my sister was attending at the time, I heard nothing but good things about it. After I was accepted, God continued to open doors making it very clear to me that Wheaton was where he wanted me to be. 

My high school volleyball coach was very optimistic about my athletic abilities and constantly pushed me to reach out to college coaches, but I was hesitant because I recognized that my experience playing for my small international high school in Japan was probably not enough to be successful at college ball. However, when I visited my sister at Wheaton, I reached out to Coach Brittany Smith and told her about my reservations toward playing in college. She was so understanding and assured me that with training, she could help me develop the confidence and skills needed to play competitively. After talking with her, I knew that if I played volleyball in college, I wanted to play for her. When she later offered me a spot, I accepted. 


The highlight of my involvement with Wheaton’s volleyball program so far was the mission trip to Israel/Palestine that we took at the end of summer 2015. During this ten-day trip, we had the privilege of running volleyball camps for girls ages 4-13, playing volleyball with the Palestinian women’s team, visiting the holy sites, and building relationships with the people we met while also learning about the conflict there. Together we wrestled through difficult questions while growing closer to each other as a team and making memories that will last a lifetime. 

There is something so special about being on a team of women united for one purpose: to use our gifts to bring glory to God while competing to win. This purpose has fostered a deep trust among us, and has provided many opportunities to hold each other accountable to the standards that we have set. Never have I been so encouraged and supported by a group of women, nor have I been so pushed, challenged, and stretched. 

I love that I grew up in Japan, and I take pride in sharing my culture with others. Although this upbringing made adjusting to collegiate volleyball challenging, it has allowed me to be more sympathetic and aware of other cultures around me. There are definitely many challenges that come from playing collegiate volleyball, but through these I have learned about leadership, perseverance, strength, service, and drive. I have never experienced such genuine friendships and am so thankful for this opportunity that has grown me and blessed me so much over the past three years. 


Katie Rohrer '18 is an elementary education major and hopes to become an elementary school teacher to encourage students from all backgrounds. She is a third year player for Wheaton's varsity volleyball team and recorded 65 kills last season. Photo captions (from top to bottom): Katie with the team on senior night, the final game of the 2015 season; Wheaton volleyball players with the Palestinian women’s team during a summer mission trip in 2015; members of Wheaton's women's volleyball team at an Atlanta Braves game in Georgia.

2015-16: #MyWheaton "Top 5" Recap

Posted May 11, 2016 by Katherine Braden '16

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2Take a look back at the 2015-16 academic year through the lens of our "Top 5" #MyWheaton posts from August through May of this year. From student entrepreneurship to varsity athletics and financial aid, here are the top five student stories, based on total number of page views, that our readers enjoyed on the #MyWheaton blog this year:

Wheaton Shark Tank Winner: Flourish

Based on the original Shark Tank TV series, hopeful students pitched their brand ideas to investors over several rounds of Wheaton Shark Tank. Mary Elizabeth Goodell '16 (pictured above) won this February with her brand, “Flourish.” Mary Elizabeth shared about her inspiration, her Shark Tank journey, and what makes her brand unique. “The idea was to sell sustainably made dresses by employing victims of sexual violence,” she says.

2015 Student Video Competition Winners

For the 2015 video contest, students were asked to capture their Wheaton experience on video in less than three minutes and were judged on originality, creativity, production quality, and reflection of Wheaton's Mission and Community Covenant. Zack Johnston '17 won with “Our Wheaton,” Larryon Truman '16 won with “Worship is a Lifestyle,” and Matt Adams '17 won with “Feet of Wheaton.”

Wheaton Soccer: More Than a Sport

Marshall Hollingsworth '16 shared how playing soccer at Wheaton shaped who he is as a person and athlete. “I have not experienced God’s love as much as I have these past three years at Wheaton College,” Marshall said. Watch Marshall’s video to learn more about soccer at Wheaton, faith through injuries, and learning to lean on God. 

Wheaton Swimming: Success Within a Community

Kirsty Nitz '16 turned down swimming scholarships to D1 schools, drawn to Wheaton’s academics and community. “Even during my first semester here, God affirmed my decision to come to Wheaton repeatedly by providing wonderful friends who encouraged and motivated me athletically, academically, and in my walk with the Lord,” said Kirsty. She shares how swimming in community at Wheaton has grown and encouraged her.

Discovering Financial Aid

When circumstances jeopardized Travis Mercante '17's ability to continue at Wheaton, he discovered the Financial Aid Office. Through their patience, encouragement, and assistance, Travis found a way to remain at Wheaton. “They have been my advocates and mentors,” shares Travis. “I will never be able to thank them enough for their assistance and all the help they continue to provide.

Stay tuned for a series of summer 2016 #MyWheaton posts dedicated to showcasing Wheaton students' study abroad, internship, and curricular opportunities, and share your summer experiences on social media using the hashtag #MyWheaton.

Wheaton Swimming: Success Within Community

Posted March 3, 2016 by Kirsty Nitz '16

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My Wheaton journey began when my grandmother and grandfather first arrived at Wheaton College in 1946. Over the next fifty years, many of my family members also attended, and although I was offered several Division 1 swimming scholarships, I decided to follow in their footsteps. Though swimming had been an important part of my life for ten years, I knew it would be over once I graduated, however my friendships and academic experience would influence the rest of my life. Discovering that Wheaton had a successful swim team sealed the deal, and I began my undergraduate and Wheaton swimming career in 2012.


Even during my first semester here, God affirmed my decision to come to Wheaton repeatedly by providing wonderful friends who encouraged and motivated me athletically, academically, and in my walk with the Lord. In the past four years, this has continued to be true. Through the highs and lows of swimming and college life, my teammates and I have continually supported each other, and I cannot imagine my college experience without them. In my experience, the swim team is the most amazing community on campus. I will treasure the memories of hilarious pranks, countless team functions, and exhilarating success at swim meets.   

Relays are always my favorite events because swimming is such a team sport. None of us would be able to perform to our full potential without our teammates encouraging us daily at practice. In a relay, we get to celebrate our successes with the people who challenged us daily for the past six months, and the excitement is so much greater because we did it together.

Kirsty Nitz '16 is a senior Applied Health Science major who has participated in varsity swimming for four years at Wheaton College. Wheaton has an award winning men and women's swim team. To view the roster or see their schedule, visit their website

Photo Captions: The team celebrates after a conference win; Kirsty (right) and a friend pose underwater for a photo; the swim team women don costumes and join the freshman orientation parade.

Wheaton Soccer: More Than A Sport

Posted October 7, 2015 by Marshall Hollingsworth '16

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Marshall Hollingsworth ’16 was reluctant to go to Wheaton—the dream was to attend a D1 school and play soccer professionally. He changed his mind after his visit to Wheaton in the fall of his senior year, though.

“I realized there are more important things in life than just soccer,” Marshall says.

His freshman year, things seemed to be going well: the team was winning and Marshall got a lot of playing time. However, an injury to his knee right before post-season challenged his identity.

“I spent a lot of time in prayer, really talking to God about it and just trying to figure out what I was going to do if I couldn’t play soccer…that’s when I learned to lean on God,” Marshall says.

According to Marshall, the most amazing thing about being a Wheaton College student is the people who are willing to pour into the lives of the students and help them grow both emotionally and spiritually.

“I have not experienced God’s love as much as I have these past three years at Wheaton College,” Marshall shares.

Watch the video above to see Marshall share more about how playing soccer at Wheaton has shaped who he is as a person and athlete.

Marshall Hollingsworth ’16 is a senior studying business and economics. Learn more about Wheaton soccer on the Wheaton Thunder website, Twitter @Wheaton_Thunder, and Instagram @Wheaton_Thunder. Video filmed, produced, and edited by Kevin Schmalandt.

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