My Wheaton

My First Semester With Christ At The Core

Posted February 3, 2017 by Octavia Powell '20

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powell-1After my first few months at college, I can safely say that no amount of anticipation about Wheaton could ever compare to me actually being here. And here is such a lovely place to be. I use the word lovely not out of habit or in an attempt to adhere to clichés, but because when I think of my first semester on campus the word "lovely"—defined by Webster’s dictionary as “attractive or beautiful especially in a graceful way—immediately comes to mind. 

What attracted me to Wheaton, and what continues to help me fall in love with this school more and more, is just how much people care about something—or more specifically, someone—other than themselves. "For Christ and His Kingdom" isn’t just the mantra here, I see it applied everywhere. The students’ and faculty’s love for Christ is what shapes them into the caring and mindful people that they are. The friendships I’ve made here aren't just friendships based on proximity. My friends are people that I care about deeply and I know that they feel the same way. The relationships I’ve established with people here have been priceless and it’s only been about 6 months.

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It’s beautiful to me how Wheaton’s academics transcend the typical secular scope of education and integrate faith with learning so effortlessly. My professors never fail to truly astound me with with their passion for their field and how they help me to see that my faith isn’t something to just be applied in a Bible and theology class. My CORE class—Relationship to Creation—was something I really valued because it directly related to a passion of mine. In high school I volunteered at my local zoo and raised awareness for environmental issues but I’d never looked at how we should be caring for the world around us from a Christian perspective. This class, along with others, have truly helped me to gain a respect for the Christian liberal arts. The Christ at the Core curriculum may be new but it’s goal of keeping Christ at the center of every academic pursuit is something I admire, especially when the rest of the world tells me that my faith has to be separate from the rest of my life.

The leadership staff here lead through constant acts of service and grace. Other than the friends I’ve made and the classes I attend, my Wheaton experience so far has been primarily defined by my time serving on Student Government as freshman class vice president. Through being appointed to this position I have met so many wonderful student leaders and faculty members that serve with the perfect combination of strength and dignity. The Christian leaders here daily inspire me and I strive to gain knowledge from them to better learn how to serve my class and later, the world.

I don’t know what I thought college would be like, but the experiences I’ve had here are insurmountably better than I ever could have imagined.

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Octavia Powell ’20 is the freshman class vice president at Wheaton and is considering a major in international relations. The Class of 2020 is the first to study under the new general education curriculum, Christ at the Core. Photo captions (top to bottom): Octavia (right) and friends at a Christmas banquet hosted by the Office of Multicultural Development; 2016-17 Student Government leaders; Octavia (right) and friends enjoying one of the first snowfalls of the season.

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

Skis, Frozen Lakes, and Jesus

Posted January 25, 2017 by Silas Wade '18

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honeyrockI couldn’t describe it adequately to anybody for days.

At least, not until I sat next to Dr. Rob Ribbe, director of HoneyRock and assistant professor of Christian formation and ministry, at lunch yesterday. I regaled him about the ski trip the retreat group and I went on, and when it came time to offer a description of the experience, I grasped for words.

 “Rob, it was…”

 Nothing came. Rob looked at me patiently as I went to try again.

 “It was..”

 Nothing. I had no words. Then Rob spoke:

 “Perfect.”

And that was it. I was finally able to describe the clear night when the Wheaton Undergraduate Admissions group of Diakonoi—“Dekes”—and I went skiing on a frozen lake under the light of the moon and a billion stars. The awe that I felt when I saw the moonlight being refracted off a plethora of tiny water crystals, or when the tree line couldn’t have been more clear against the sky, was perfect—just like my Creator. Is that what the ski trip was about? Not to downplay my duties as a retreat host, which I loved (shout out to the Dekes!), but out there on my flimsy skis, I was reduced to awe and wonder before the one who loves me. Some of us can go our whole lives studying scripture and going to church without meeting God in a way that leaves us speechless.

But God wants to meet of us where we are, even if that is on an unscheduled ski trip, during a retreat, having consumed far too much coffee. The place where all of the devices that we use to prop ourselves up fall apart, that's where Jesus is. That’s where we see His perfection and are made perfect ourselves. It’s really something.

I didn’t have the words to describe a ski trip, but I wonder if, in my attempts to do so, I was trying to describe something else—if I was trying to describe someone else.

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Silas Wade M.A. '18 is a graduate student seeking a master's degree in Christian Formation and Ministry with an emphasis in Outdoor Adventure Leadership at HoneyRock, Wheaton’s Outdoor Center for Leadership Development. Photo captions (top to bottom): the Wisconsin night sky over Long Lake; students prepare to snowshoe through the miles of wooded trails at HoneyRock, Wheaton's Outdoor Center for Leadership Development.

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

New Year's Resolutions at Wheaton

Posted January 13, 2017 by Kelsey Plankeel '18

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It’s students’ first week back on Wheaton’s campus in 2017, and New Year’s resolutions—the written embodiment of hope for a “better you” after holiday season culinary and financial splurging—are upon us. Whether you fall into the 80 percent of individuals who fail by the second week in February—thanks for that, U.S. News—or whether you are among the top 20 percent who succeed, the symbolic turn of the year can spark in each of us the motivation to start, stop, or change our daily routines. Wheaton students are no different from the general public. 

I have only been back for three days, and already I have noticed the increased traffic at the Sports and Recreation Complex, a busier salad bar, and more resistance in responding to late-night bowling invites. 

Over lunch in Anderson Commons this week, I decided to ask my tablemates and those around us about their New Year’s resolutions. I was impressed by the variety of responses, and below are the highlights.

The Anti-Resolutionist

Alex Garcia ’18 said he did not have a New Year’s resolution and was not planning on making one because he never follows through. 

“I would make a New Year’s resolution of things I don’t want to do, like ‘fail classes’,” he said mischievously. “I’d be like ‘let’s do this!’ and I wouldn’t do it.”

The Health Nut

David Sell ’19 has resolved to completely cut dairy and gluten from his diet for the calendar year. “Just to be healthy. There are some bad things about dairy… it gives you calcium and that’s good though.” David started this mission in late autumn 2016 and celebrates 100 percent success so far.

The Schedule Seeker 

“It’s more of a school resolution—I want to sleep more,” says Rebecca Plankeel ’20.

“I want to be social and then I realize I have work so I’m staying up doing my homework,” she admitted to her beaming older sister (me). I did warn her!

Overall, Rebecca hopes to have a defined daily schedule for working out, homework, and sleep. When asked how her first eleven days of the New Year had gone, she smartly replied, “You know, I haven’t started yet, but it’s going to happen eventually.”

The Hydration Hound

Kara Chen ’20 has joined the many who seek to improve health via hydration. “I even have an app for it!” she exclaimed as she excitedly grabbed her iPhone.

The app, called MyWater, allows users to log their water consumption in ounces throughout the day. It also provides calculations for the recommended amount of daily water consumption and lets users set personal intake goals.

“I have to drink 55.44 ounces every day, and I have reached it every day!” she said.

 The Other Guys

“My resolution is, well… it’s to watch more movies,” said John Limkeman ’17. John, a senior, feels that his final semester is the time to catch up on the classics that he has never seen. 

“Mine is to not break any more limbs,” laughed Peter Zhao ’17 as he balanced on a pair of crutches. Last semester, Peter broke his fibula during a video shoot with the Taekwondo Club here at Wheaton. He is happy to report that he has not yet broken any more bones.

And myself? I’m with my sister. Though I haven’t officially declared it a “resolution,” I hope that 2017 will be the year of organization for me. No more Stupe apples hiding among the inkless pens and crumpled quizzes in the bottom of my backpack, and certainly no more locking my keys in the car (I think I’ve reached the 10 free locksmith visits offered by insurance). 

To all resolution-makers: I wish you good luck and admire your success, whether it lasts one day or twelve months. Happy New Year!

Kelsey Plankeel ’18 is an Applied Health Science major and is also completing the Journalism Certificate at Wheaton. Photo caption (left to right): Peter Zhao' 17, Rebecca Plankeel '20, John Limkeman '17, Alex Garcia '18, Kara Chen '20.

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

Break Ends, But Thanks-Giving Continues

Posted December 7, 2016 by Sophie Clarke '19

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Lower Beamer Student Center bustles with excitement as the end of a class period is signaled by the presence of countless students in colorful sweaters. An eagerness for Christmas hangs in the air: two days back from Thanksgiving Break, students are returning to a decorated campus. Lower Beamer is no different: snowflakes dangle from the ceiling, trees sparkle, and garlands drape over banisters. The Giving Tuesday booth sits amidst all this festive cheeriness manned by dancing, hollering, and laughing Students Ambassadors and Student Alumni Board

“Lower Beamer is just so jolly today!” exclaims a student I run into on my way to the booth. 

Giving Tuesday is each student’s opportunity to reflect on what Wheaton has meant to them and focus on the joys our wonderful campus offers us every single day. When passers-by are asked if they'd like to add to the wall of thankfulness, there is not a single person who does not eagerly stop, choose a colorful sticky note and corresponding sharpie, and write out something that makes them smile. 

The number of people writing out the specific name of a friend (or multiple friends!) is quite the testimonial: thankfulness for campus community is reiterated over and over again through notes spelling out “My professors”, “My family and friends”, or “My roommates”. The wall of thankfulness has grown to three times the size we originally planned it to be; if you give students an opportunity to express their gratitude to Wheaton and all it has done for them, don’t expect their thankfulness to be carefully contained within a limited space! 

It is amazing to witness the many students and faculty members who are thrilled to participate in Giving Tuesday by also giving back to Wheaton financial gift or using social media to post about Giving Tuesday. I confess that prior to Giving Tuesday, I was ambivalent about the percentage of students who would participate in contributing financially to Wheaton. “We’re paying plenty in tuition,” I expected them to say. Proving me incredibly wrong, beaming student after beaming student committed a financial amount toward The Wheaton Fund. 

What a privilege it is to witness the generosity and gratitude of my fellow students and the faculty I so look up to. Giving Tuesday reminds us of all that Wheaton has given to us on both an individual and a communal level. We are thankful for the professors who pour into us intellectually and spiritually; we are thankful for the athletics and clubs that enable us to use our abilities for God’s glory. We are thankful for faithful communities, for a beautiful campus, for the excitement that comes with campus-wide Christmas decorations. Let us celebrate the countless opportunities Wheaton has given us, not just on Giving Tuesday, but every day of the year.

Sophie Clarke ’19 is an English writing and communication (media studies) major. She is also completing a journalism certificate. Photo caption: Students are thankful for donors and for the first snow of the semester!

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

The Fellowship of the Rope

Posted December 2, 2016 by Juan-Fernando León M.A. '17

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A historiography class reminded me why I fell in love with history. Though I’ve always liked it, I never knew history would hold my hand as I rediscovered myself. We often have well-rehearsed speeches about our dreams and decisions, but rarely do we pause to reevaluate the journey or reflect on progress. In our fast-paced society, it seems that we pause only to catch our breath.

Well, I am pausing; not only to catch my breath, but to remember. I am pausing by looking back at the memories made at Wheaton College alongside fellow students, faculty and staff in this intellectual adventure. One of my fondest memories occurred in a historiography class where the fellowship of the rope story appeared in an article we read. Bluntly put, the author declared that in order for the teacher to survive in us, the professor in us needed to die. The author expressed the difference between teachers and professors as an analogy of those between climbers and mountaineers. 

Climbers are driven by the thrill of summiting; they are constantly looking for the next peak to climb and the fastest way to do it. They take unnecessary risks and shortcuts to reach the top. On the academic mountain, a similar dynamic happens. Many of us climb the academic mountain for the sake of reaching the top and will do anything, risk everything, to achieve our goal. The zenith of our efforts is to be a tenured professor at the cost of fellowship, which results in isolation. 

Mountaineers, however, are driven by the fellowship that forms in climbing a mountain. They are not only looking to summit a peak but rather they are looking with whom to do it. Similarly, there are those of us, who in pursuing our academic careers, look for the fellowship that comes from listening and learning from each other’s stories, experiences and strengths. The zenith of our efforts is to be a teacher at the cost of our own self-aggrandized ambitions, which results in fellowship.

The challenge for me was rediscovering who I wanted to be—a climber or a mountaineer; a professor or a teacher. I knew I was interested in history but was uncertain as to what exactly I wanted to do. However one thing became clear: history is best studied in fellowship. Poor history happens in isolation.

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Let me explain this in mountaineer parlance. For mountaineers, the fellowship of the rope embodies an ideal—a nostalgic image—of a time during which mountain climbers relied on one another more than on gear. Despite ever-improving gear, the rope has remained central. Because the rope can pull, hold, and link together climbers of any experience as they journey up a mountain, it can also be lethal. When inexperienced climbers slip, the rope harnesses the experience of expert climbers in order to avert the fall. At the times when mountaineers slip, the same rope has the ability to take the whole group down. 

This is an important reminder not only as I continue to ponder on the type of teacher I want to be, but more so, as I witness the fellowship of the rope as an intrinsic method to study history in graduate school. The words we use to write history are the ropes that pull, hold, and link us together as students of history. Ropes are to mountaineers what words are to historians. When we give voice to the voiceless and the marginalized, we are binding ourselves together with their struggles as we communicate their stories. History is about learning in fellowship with those around us and with those who came before us. When we study history, we are not only entering a foreign land—we are entering a fellowship that exceeds time and space; a fellowship that prevents us from being chronological snobs. In fellowship, we learn about ourselves and others. In fellowship, isolation disintegrates.  

The historiography class, and those in it, taught me that the climber in me needed to die if I ever wanted to see the mountaineer in me become part of the larger fellowship of learners. Here at Wheaton College I am learning alongside peers, faculty, and staff how to be an intellectual mountaineer. So friends, if you are climber, consider the mountaineer. If you’re already a mountaineer, rejoice in the fellowship of the rope. 

Juan-Fernando León M.A. ’17 is a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in history of Christianity. Photo captions (top to bottom): Juan-Fernando hiking; Juan-Fernando with Dr. Jennifer McNutt and fellow graduate students and friends at the movies together.

To learn more about Wheaton, connect w/ Wheaton College Graduate School Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now.

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