My Wheaton

Wheaton College Science Station: in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Posted July 19, 2017 by Liz George '20

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This past month I experienced the blessing of studying at Wheaton’s Science Station in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Upon first hearing about summer programs in the Hills, I figured the General Education sequence would be an easy and fun way to satisfy my science requirements. However, my time at the Station transformed into something much more. 

The Black Hills provide an incredibly unique location to experience Christ-centered community, to learn from knowledgeable and loving professors, and to witness God’s provision and power firsthand in natural wonders. Studying at the Science Station allows for a range of educational opportunities, such as observing wildlife in Custer State Park and learning about the geological formations of the Badlands.

This summer, two classes were offered for the month of June: BIO 242: Diversity of Life and CORE 325: Nature, Environment, and Society. Biology professors led students in detailed study of local biological networks and organisms, and CORE offered us a chance to learn about environmental problems from a Christian perspective. After taking CORE 101: Living in God’s Creation during my first semester with Dr. Chris Keil, I opted to take Dr. Keil’s environmental science advanced seminar to engage in further study of creation care from a Christian perspective. 


Our class, composed of eight students, experienced a tight-knit community in which all voices were heard. In this science seminar, we applied our learning by discussing appropriate Christian responses to contemporary environmental problems. Alongside Dr. Keil and other classmates, I was led to consider very important, yet often ignored, ecological issues. These issues ranged from water rights for people groups experiencing water shortages to land rights for Native Americans who believe the Black Hills form a sacred space to proper wildlife management. 

Though the course content did not directly relate to my major or my vision to become a book editor, it reflected my motivation to attend Wheaton: to pursue an education for my mind, heart, and soul. Socio-environmental issues covered in the course refined my fundamental beliefs. Aware of contemporary issues yet encouraged in heart, I am emboldened to embrace Dr. Keil’s motto of “living simply” in order to reduce my footprint on the environment. Studying in the Hills ignited my desire to care for all creation as an extension of my love for God and neighbor. I am beyond grateful for this precious time that God granted me to appreciate his creation with brothers and sisters in Christ. May we all experience such a transformational education, characterized by a new understanding of Christ’s love for all creation.


Liz George ’20 is studying English Writing and took general education course requirements at Wheaton’s Science Station in the Black Hills during summer 2017. Photo captions (from top): Cliff jumping at Sheridan Lake with classmates; a view of Devils Tower; Wheaton in the Black Hills students visit Crazy Horse. 

To learn more about Wheaton in the Black Hills, visit their website. To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now.

A Look Inside Wheaton’s Pilgrimage to Santiago Trip

Posted July 12, 2017 by Falecia Sanchez '18, Wyatt Anderson '19

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Falecia Sanchez ’18 and Wyatt Anderson ’19 traveled on Wheaton’s Pilgrimage to Santiago trip during summer 2017, and share some insights about their experience visiting Spain and hiking the Camino de Santiago trail in the blog post below. 

Falecia: After watching the movie The Way, visiting the Cathedral of Santiago, attending Pilgrim's Mass, listening to a Camino scholar lecture on the history of the Camino, and talking to pilgrims who arrived in Santiago de Compostela during the Wheaton in Spain study abroad trip in 2016, I found myself hoping to return one day to walk the Camino. Thus, when Professor Sharenda Barlar of the Modern and Classical Languages Department asked a year later if I would assist in her research of pilgrims on the Camino, my immediate answer was, "Yes!"  

Wyatt: This summer, we walked across Spain, along an ancient pilgrimage route called “El Camino.” We first flew to Madrid, and toured many of Spain’s northern cities including Pamplona, Roncesvalles, Leon, Santo Domingo, Burgos, and Astorga. In each city, we took in the history, culture, and cuisine, visiting everything from museums and cathedrals to restaurants. We then left from Astorga, and began the long walk of 273 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela.


Along the way we learned a great deal, though exactly what we learned varied depending on who we met and what we saw. One of the people I met was Tania, a middle-aged woman from Germany, who didn’t know what to think of religion after some deaths in her family. My friend Eric and I walked with her for 10 km. It is amazing the subjects you can cover in a 10k conversation. We talked about everything from siblings to faith, and we were all able to talk about what we believe and why. In the end, I gave her my fidget spinner, given to me by a man named Tony the previous day, and told her to pass it along to someone else in the spirit of the Camino.

Falecia: In the future, I hope to become a professor of either philosophy or Spanish literature, and Wyatt’s conversation with Tania is a perfect example of why this trip was a wonderful opportunity for me to apply the knowledge gained from my study of Spanish and philosophy at Wheaton. My Spanish courses have provided linguistic, historical, and cultural contexts to better understand and connect with Spaniards and other Spanish-speakers while my philosophy courses have provided a logical foundation to tackle the hard questions that many pilgrims on the Camino are asking, such as: What is my purpose in life? Does God really exist? If He does exist, why is there so much suffering?


Wyatt: As a biology major, I paid a lot of attention to the woods along the Camino, and I think I found my biggest takeaway in the woods of Galicia. They stirred in me a nostalgia, but I had never seen them before. They reminded me of stories I read when was young, but I wasn’t sure which one. They reminded me of someone I once knew, but forgot. They reminded me of home, but again, I had never set foot there before. The conclusion I came to was that these longings betrayed my longing for God. And I recognized that my longing is part of His story of redemption that runs through all cities, suburbs, farmlands, and forests, if we only take the time to look.


Falecia Sanchez ’18 is studying Spanish, and Wyatt Anderson ’19 is studying biology, Spanish, and chemistry. They both traveled on Wheaton’s Pilgrimage to Santiago trip during summer 2017. Photo captions (from top): Wyatt and Falecia in front of a statue of Santiago el Peregrino (St. James, the Pilgrim); a walking path along Molinaseca, Spain; Falecia overlooking the morning fog along the Galician mountains; The woods of Galicia.

To learn more about Wheaton’s Pilgrimage to Santiago trip, visit their website. To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now.

Chi-Town to Atlanta: My Internship With Reach Records

Posted July 5, 2017 by Brian Connelly '19

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Before the idea of attending Wheaton College had even crossed my mind, I was already dreaming about one day interning at Reach Records in Atlanta. In addition to being a long-time hip-hop fan, I also have a passion for impacting culture through art, so working for Reach has always been an aspiration of mine. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the brand, Reach Records is an independent record label that was started by Grammy-award winning hip-hop artist Lecrae. The label originally catered to a primarily Christian audience, but over the past few years it has started making moves within the mainstream hip-hop industry in an effort to leave a lasting impact on culture. Lecrae, and other Reach artists like Andy Mineo, have started working more frequently with mainstream artists and producers like Ty Dolla $ign and Metro Boomin, all while continuing to be open about their Christian worldview. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had to help out with new music releases from the artists at Reach, no matter in how small of a role.

Picking up food for artists, transcribing new music, and modeling to promote merchandise is a small part of what comes with the “intern” job title at Reach Records. I’ve also had ongoing opportunities to learn more about how the label operates in ways that are tailored to my specific interests and strengths. Given that I’m interested in pursuing a career in art direction or creative marketing, I’ve had the pleasure of designing marketing materials for new music releases and participating in brainstorming sessions for marketing ideas. Thankfully, I can look back at my Wheaton experience over the past two years and feel like I’ve been sufficiently prepared for maximizing this internship experience.


I’ve never taken a class in creative marketing, art direction, or even graphic design, but I’ve felt prepared for this internship based on my involvement in different student leadership roles at Wheaton. Throughout the roles I’ve served in on Student Alumni Board and Freshman Class Council, I’ve been able to develop and practice my inclinations toward design and marketing, and I’ve learned how to effectively work as a team member. I’m grateful for these opportunities that I’ve had on campus, and I encourage current students to take advantage of the numerous student leadership opportunities available to them.

Interning at Reach has been an unforgettable experience thus far, and with only half of it under my belt there are still plenty more music releases to come. In the coming weeks I look forward to designing more email/social media campaigns and executing creative marketing ideas for upcoming albums. I’m thankful for this opportunity I’ve been given, and I’m continually thankful for the way Reach is impacting the music industry.


Brian Connelly ’19 is double majoring in business/economics and art history and is an intern this summer at Reach Records in Atlanta. Photo captions (from top): Brian standing in front of the backside of Reach's offices where you can find a mural depicting the cover art that appeared on Trip Lee's latest album; Brian working on his laptop inside of Reach Records’ studio complex which consists of four studios, a bunkhouse, and showers--visiting artists frequently claim that it's the nicest studio that they've ever been in; Brian sitting on a truck that appeared on the cover art for Andy Mineo's debut album. The truck was designed and photographed in Seattle, and was recently relocated to Atlanta after Reach opened up their new office and studio complex during summer 2016. 

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

Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Wheaton and Beyond

Posted June 28, 2017 by Hanny Wuysang M.A. '18

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Prior to coming to Wheaton, I realized that I needed higher education to be able to serve people more. I prayed to find a place to complete a master’s in counseling that integrated with my faith. Long story short, God led me to come to Wheaton to pursue an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I felt peace when I opened Wheaton’s website and saw the pictures of the College and the area.

My program in clinical mental health counseling requires students to have real experiences dealing with clients. Currently, I am doing my summer practicum at Southeast Asia Bible Seminary in my home country of Indonesia for two months. My counseling site here serves people from the wider community, not only the seminary students. It’s been an exciting experience meeting adolescents from diverse cultures and from various socioeconomic statuses. This coming year I will intern at Moody Bible Institute.

Why do I love what I do? I feel called to help people and to bring healing and hope to their lives. There are a lot of young people who need someone to listen to them genuinely. I want to walk with them through their struggles as they grow emotionally and spiritually.


One of the challenges that I face being back in my home country is re-adjusting to the culture. I have to re-adjust to the culture, beliefs, values, and languages. I am confronted with many issues of social justice that have opened up my eyes. There are a lot of needs in the underserved population. Besides providing counseling, there are cultural challenges, but thankfully, Wheaton’s CMHC program prepares its students to be multiculturally competent. While I am with people who come from different backgrounds, I learn to understand their needs, their concerns, and their ways of communicating.

Christians are called to do God’s work with our abilities, passions, and professions. We study, we read, we discuss, and we learn from one another. This quote from one of my classes helps me to stay connected with God and others: “You are vulnerable, don’t do this alone.” We need God and we need one another as the Body of Christ. May Wheaton College’s motto “For Christ and His Kingdom” be forever established in our hearts wherever we go--hand in hand.


Hanny Wuysang M.A. ’18 studies Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Wheaton College Graduate School and is completing an international practicum in Indonesia this summer. Photo captions (from top): Hanny’s CMHC family (2018 cohort); a play-room for play therapy at Hanny’s summer counseling site; the counseling site's garden and gazebo.

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

Wheaton in the Holy Lands

Posted June 21, 2017 by Elise Alexander '20

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If someone had asked me where I would be at this point in life two years ago, the answer “Wheaton College” would not be surprising, but the additional “Wheaton in the Holy Lands” response would definitely be unexpected. I am one of the many Wheaton students whose attendance has been precluded by numerous family members, but like many of those “legacy” students, family ties are not the sole reason I am here. Certainly, carrying on tradition is an honor and privilege, but what ultimately drew me to Wheaton College was the same characteristics that intrigued my family members years ago: excellent academics and Christ-centered community.

I applied for the Wheaton in the Holy Lands program a few days before the application deadline based on amazing reviews from last year’s attendees and the encouragement of a friend on my floor who had already applied. With little hope of this freshman making the cut, I submitted my application and waited with less-than-hopeful expectations. By mid-November, my expectations were realized when I received an e-mail categorizing my application status as “Waitlisted.” Disappointed but not necessarily surprised, I continued preparing for the end of the semester. A small spark of hope lived on in the back of my mind as campus emptied for Christmas Break, but I tried to avoid thinking about it. Then, one unexpected January day, Dr. Chris Vlachos presented me with the best late Christmas present a girl could want: An email stating that my application status had changed from “Waitlisted” to “Accepted.”

The rest is history.


Six months later, I am writing this story while in Greece, after three weeks in Israel surrounded by more of what originally drew me to Wheaton: Christian community and excellent academics. Between field studies in the places Jesus walked and excursions to where the Gospel was first launched to the ends of the earth, this trip has provided an academically enriching experience like no other, and I am able to say with confidence that I have never enjoying learning quite this much. In addition, team meals, long bus rides, and beautiful moments of worship have cultivated a community of brothers and sisters who strive to love in the same manner as the One we are studying. Thus, whether I am in Wheaton, Illinois or thousands of miles and several time zones away, the core principles of my experience remain the same, making for an irresistible environment that one can’t help but embrace.


When thinking about my return to Wheaton this fall, I cannot help but consider how this trip, as well as the next three years, will impact the discovery of my vocation. As a business/economics major the range of possibilities is rather broad, but if one were to ask what my “dream job” is at this point, I would say opening my own breakfast restaurant or working for an event-planning business. Regardless of whether or not I end up in one of these fields, my time at Wheaton continues to show me that vocation, the future for which college is preparing me, is much more than a job, and that a job is much more than an income. Whatever career I land in, Wheaton classes and programs continue to demonstrate that ultimate fulfillment and purpose come from following the footsteps of Jesus every day in every situation.

Right now, however, I am not at Wheaton, nor am I looking for a job. Planning for the future is certainly important, but while in the Holy Lands, I prefer to be thoroughly present. As I reflect upon this experience, I am coming to realize that, on a small scale, this trip represents all that I am thankful for about Wheaton. The past four weeks have been filled with incredibly intelligent professors who share not only their knowledge but also their lives, learning that challenges as well as encourages, community that strives to show love and grace, and daily reminders of the abundance of life that overflows from the living God. By His grace I enter into this overflowing life, contribute to this community, learn from these incredible minds, and begin to see and know the one true God more, both at Wheaton College and abroad. Just like the headwaters of the Jordan River always gushing from the foot of Mt. Hermon, His grace never stops flowing.


Elise Alexander ’20 is a business/economics major who traveled with Wheaton in the Holy Lands this summer. Photo captions (top to bottom): Sunflowers on the way to Cana; Bedouin man in the Judean wilderness; Sunset over the Mediterranean from the coast of Greece; Temple of Poseidon. All photos credit Kathryn Risher ’17. 

To learn more about Wheaton in the Holy Lands, visit their website. To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now.

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