As someone who can’t remember a time before she was involved in singing for other people, it’s perhaps unsurprising that vocal performance major Hannah Benson ’15 has found a home in Wheaton’s Conservatory of Music.
“I love the way that studying voice makes me feel,” Hannah says. “I’m creating the sound physically, and it’s a very rewarding major to me because of that.”
As one of the lead roles in Wheaton’s Opera Music Theater production of Dido and Aeneas, Hannah has had ample opportunity to exercise her vocal talent in a community of fellow artists.
“I love the people in the conservatory,” she says. “Because there are so few of us and we’re constantly in the same building, we get to know each other really well. It becomes a really close-knit community.”
From Hannah’s perspective, this community includes professors, too. Working closely with well-trained professionals is made even more beneficial when paired with small class sizes and ensembles in which all participants know one another by name.
“It’s really rewarding in both the academic and emotional aspects,” Hannah says. “It’s been awesome.”
Hannah Benson '15 is a senior studying vocal performance in the Conservatory of Music. Learn more about her dreams and aspirations on her author bio page.
Young-Ho Moon '15 chose to attend Wheaton for its 3-2 dual degree engineering program, and is on the verge of completing both his Bachelor of Science degree from Wheaton and a degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Because Wheaton is a liberal arts school, it "wasn't on his radar initially," but after being accepted to both a "top-tier" engineering school and Wheaton, he decided to do an overnight stay with a "Deke" from the admissions office that changed everything.
"That visit really changed my perspective on what I wanted out of a college," Young-Ho says. "I think what I realized after visiting Wheaton was that I didn't want my four years of college to just be about learning engineering stuff or more equations...but really just developing me into the person God wants me to be. Wheaton offers holistic growth in a way other schools don't."
Young-Ho Moon '15 is a 3-2 engineering dual degree program student from China.
When I decided to pursue my Psy.D. at Wheaton, I told people I chose Wheaton because of a variety of factors. Although it is true that my wife and I tried to make a wise, holistically informed decision, the primary reason I came to Wheaton was the people I interacted with throughout the interview process. Quite simply, I wanted to be formed by people I thought were worthwhile to emulate. Since the beginning of my time here, my professors and the others in my cohort have made my experience worthwhile.
The people at Wheaton have driven me to be a better counselor, scholar, and researcher. My research interests were broad when I started the Psy.D. program. Thankfully, Dr. Ward Davis, my research professor and professional mentor, listened closely to my varied interests and brought to my attention various people, conferences, and grants that could help enrich the process.
After a lot of hard work and many drafts, the Templeton Foundation chose my dissertation as part of their funding for Positive Psychology and Faith research. I am actually happy to report that it took me 20+ drafts in working with Dr. Ward, Nancy from Buswell Memorial Library, my dissertation committee, and the Templeton committee. While I am not someone who particularly loves research or even writing (my biggest passion is counseling), this research process has been enjoyable because of Ward’s support and direction throughout the process and the encouragement of so many at Wheaton.
My dissertation research project is an opportunity to team up with a large nondenominational church [Bethany Church near Baton Rouge, Louisiana] to study the virtue of humility. In positive psychology research, humility has recently been espoused as a worthwhile virtue to learn more about and attempt to foster. Therefore, we are implementing a humility intervention workbook that seeks to encourage church leaders to more accurately view themselves, while being open to others perspectives and putting others’ needs above their own. I am most excited about this research because I truly believe humility is something we, including the church, could use a lot more of in our lives.
Now that we have the grant and we are really digging into the project, I can see that my hopes are the same as they were before I entered the program. I hope my research furthers our knowledge about how we can better honor and serve those around us, no matter how hard it may be to find common ground with them. I hope my research can give a voice to people that do not often have their voice heard. Finally, my greatest hope is that the research will be about walking alongside and helping people every step of the way.
Andrew Cuthbert Psy.D. ’18recently received a Templeton Foundation grant for his church-humility intervention study and is completing his clinical hours at the Wheaton College Counseling Center. Photos from top: Andrew goes to work at the Wheaton College Counseling Center two to three days per week; Andrew with classmates Grace Schuler, Meghan Cahill, and instructor Dr. Ward Davis after their presentation at a Christian Association for Psychological Studies conference; Andrew and his wife, Melissa, welcome the new cohort of Psy.D. students to Wheaton at their home near campus.
Learn more about Wheaton’s Psy.D. program on their website and how to apply.
One of the most rewarding things I have done this year is to become a 1-2-1 leader as part of a program through the Office of Multicultural Development. As a 1-2-1 leader, my job is to be a resource to minority first-year or transfer students at Wheaton. 1-2-1 leaders make sure their 1-2-1 students know they have someone who is available to listen, hang out, study with, pray with, and help them adjust to life at Wheaton.
College is such a unique phase of life, and the change from senior year of high school to the first year of college is a dramatic transition. Being a minority adds an extra layer of complexities—at Wheaton, there aren’t many people that look like you or think like you, understand your background, or even share the same humor as you. 1-2-1 leaders provide a safe place for these students to express how they feel and know they are not alone.
College is hard. Being at Wheaton is hard. Being a person of color at a predominantly white institution is hard. But I believe that these hardships are meant to ultimately bring us together—we don’t have to navigate these unfamiliar waters alone. 1-2-1 provides a space where people can connect and begin to cultivate their own identity. Acceptance of that identity ultimately helps us begin to understand how best to interact with the people around us, regardless of race, class, gender, or other differences.
Early at the beginning of this semester, one of my 1-2-1 students sent me a text out of the blue that said, “How can you deal with being the only black person everywhere you go?” I called her and invited her to come over to my apartment, and we stayed up talking until the wee hours of the morning. Sharing our experiences ended up being so life-giving for both of us. Before she left, she gave me a huge hug and said, “Now I want to be a 1-2-1 leader!”
As part of the Wheaton community, we all have the potential to broaden each other’s horizons. We often develop false assumptions about people, and if we don’t check ourselves before acting on these assumptions, the repercussions can be hurtful. Being a 1-2-1 leader has taught me about the importance of taking time to listen to other people’s stories, pushing me to throw my preconceptions out the window. Everyone—no matter the race or culture—has a story that’s worth listening to. That is why we should approach our interactions with patience and grace.
Photos (above): Aseye Agamah '16 (front, center) gathers with her 1-2-1 students in Lower Beamer Center, fall 2014.
Jon Thornton ’16 couldn’t have guessed when he was first applying to Wheaton that working in the on-campus café—Sam’s—would become such a formative part of his undergrad experience. “I’ve made super strong relationships at Sam’s that have carried past when people have graduated from Wheaton . . . It’s a really good hub, not only for people who come to Sam’s, but for the employees to be able to get to know each other and hang out.”
Thornton describes Sam’s as one of the central meeting points on campus, and says he loves the chance to interact with “everyone on campus who doesn’t grab Starbucks on their way to work.” Located in the Beamer Student Center, which is sometimes thought of as the “living room” of campus, Sam’s workers like Thornton enjoy serving everyone from current students and professors to the visitors attracted by Alumni Weekend, Wheaton Connection visits, or community events like concerts or lectures.
Thornton’s love for people doesn’t just influence his preferred working environment—it also spills over into his chosen double major. Though he came into Wheaton as a freshman with the intent to study business and economics, Thornton discovered a passion and talent for new subjects through some of his general education courses. A communication and anthropology double major, Thornton loves to study “people groups and communication within people groups,” which he hopes will prepare him for work in advertising and marketing after graduation.
Thornton, who intends to pursue further studies in business at the graduate level, believes that the faith-based teaching he has received at Wheaton is part of what makes his education worthwhile. “I’ve interacted with a lot of really big ideas, and to be able to interact with those ideas in a Christian setting has been amazing,” he says.
Jon Thornton ’16 is a communication and anthropology double major. Video produced by Wheaton College Media Producer Kevin Schmalandt.