When I accepted a summer internship at Project World Impact (PWI), I was grossly unaware of what working for a start-up company entailed. Although I had networked with alumni for connections, applied for internships online, and loitered around Wheaton's career development center for months, the opportunity to work at PWI actually came from a friend—PWI’s Vice President Grant Hensel, a senior at Wheaton.
Alongside founder Chris Lesner (a Taylor University graduate of 2013), we are building Project World Impact. PWI is a marketing company and social search engine run by 20-somethings. No, you didn’t read that wrong—my bosses are 21.
Our site is like a Facebook made exclusively for nonprofits, except instead of searching for a long-lost-friend’s name, you search for nonprofits by cause and by location. You can see profiles of these organizations complete with photos, videos, and written information about the work they do, as well as donor, staff, and volunteer testimonials.
Although our work seldom looks the same day-to-day, we begin each morning with a devotional at our office. After a team meeting and huddle (yes, it is as fun as it sounds to collaborate with people your age), it’s time to work. From calling nonprofits to writing content for the website, working on social media posts to building websites and apps, our team is often engaged in more than one project.
PWI employed 19 Wheaton students this summer, so I get to work alongside many of my peers. They also have several full-time staff members who are Wheaton grads. It’s not a myth that a liberal arts education is a valuable and versatile tool—PWI is a testament to its success in preparing students for meaningful, varied careers.
Because our work is multi-faceted and often changing, I am grateful for the diverse coursework and varied extracurricular activities I’ve pursued at Wheaton. While I have relied heavily on my International Relations work (my international politics and economic growth and development classes have given me a unique lens for my research for the educational portion of our website), I have also used my journalism experience with the Wheaton Record, and my work in calling alumni with Wheaton Phonathon. These activities have given me a valuable skill set to use to build PWI.
Although I didn’t know what working for a start-up company would entail, I have loved my experience at PWI and will cling to the knowledge that, as is true for most things, you will get as much out of an internship as you are willing to put in it. Stay tuned for the rest of Project World Impact’s story to be written—we currently have over 3,000 nonprofits signed up to build profiles, and will be launching our website soon.
Anna Morris is Project World Impact’s director of content development, and is a junior at Wheaton studying international relations and French. Middle photo: A morning devotional, led by Bill Lesner, in Adams Hall; Above: PWI’s sales team celebrates after hitting their mid-summer sales goal of 2,000 confirmed nonprofits.
Welcome back, Wheaton!
Student feelings about the new school year are somewhat of a quarry. You’ve got the exhausted-from-summer pebbles, the I-don’t-want-to-start-studying-yet-but-miss-my-friends stones, the eager-to-boast-my-summer-adventure rocks, and the been-waiting-to-get-back-since-May boulders. Or maybe you’re a new student, and, well, you’re not sure what to feel.
Regardless, it’s a special time for all of us—a chance to be formed together as the worshipping body of Christ and to experience His goodness, provision, and mercies anew!
As part of this year’s Orientation Committee, I’m excited and expectant to see the ways the living Lord will use his already existing “wall” of Wheaton students to participate in His faithfulness to new students. With the combined effort of many, Orientation Week should register as a robust invitation and celebration. It’s a chance to say, "We, the returning students, are eager to accept you into this family, and are excited to serve you. Welcome to a place marked with the love and joy of Christ."
New students, here are some O-Week pointers for ya:
- Be ready for the same questions, but ask new and different ones. People want to get to know you, so questions like “Where are you from? What’s your major?” are to be expected. Instead, ask a random question, like “What excites you most about dorm life?”
- Embrace the rhythm of O-Week. The days will be full, and you’ll feel your head expanding with new info. Be excited, thankful, and enjoy!
- Take the initiative. The easiest way to meet people is through shared experience. Join a volleyball game, challenge someone to Ping-Pong, walk around downtown Wheaton, or compete in the O-Week Scavenger Hunt.
- Pride yourself on a good “Goodbye.” Don’t shy away from telling your parents you’ll miss them and you love them. You might as well go all out—heck, make it a Hallmark moment.
- Screenshot or Instagram a significant moment. This way, when someone asks about O-Week (which will happen), you have a concrete example to sum up the experience. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #mywheaton and #woweek14.
This year’s theme for Orientation Week is a powerful one: I AM THAT STONE. It comes from 1 Peter 2:4-5, in which Peter constructs a detailed metaphor out of a very common object: a stone. Christians, as “living stones, [being] built into a spiritual house,” are built upon the living Stone—which is Christ, the cornerstone. Thus, our fellowship is in the fellowship of Christ.
As each of us are called to form “a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ,” we should realize that living together is about standing upon the foundation of grace given to us by Christ. As such, a community of grace should always lead us to repentance to God and confession with others. Where grace is lived out, there is abundant life!
A community of grace a worthwhile challenge. And with Christ at the center, I am eager to see the Lord create a “joyful firmness” among Wheaton students this year!
Michael Daugherty ’15 is the 2014 Orientation Committee Student Director. A senior from Marion, Indiana, he’s graduating with a degree in Anthropology under the Pre-Medicine tract. He hopes to go into the field of medicine and global health. Top: Students gather at 2013 orientation; Above: Wheaton’s 2014 Orientation Committee. Don't forget to share your orientation memories with the Wheaton family on social media using hashtags #mywheaton and #woweek14!
Well, that went fast. It’s on all of our minds as we Wheaton College seniors prepare to complete our undergraduate degrees this spring. I can still remember my first day moving into Traber dorm four years ago: I was trying to squeeze all of my belongings onto one half of the room when my roommate suddenly appeared with 11 members of his family, including two toddlers and a crying infant. It’s no wonder this day is emblazoned in my memory.
After a quiet and strictly academic freshman year (some of my floormates referred to me as “the Hermit”), I felt challenged by God to step out of my comfort zone to deliberately become more involved in extracurricular activities. This led to my participation in Honduras Project (HP), an annual student-led mission trip to install a gravity-fed potable water system in a rural village in Honduras.
After my first trip to Honduras in 2012, I was privileged to serve on cabinet as HP’s communications coordinator in 2013. Both of my years with HP were unforgettable. I learned about leadership and service while making lasting relationships with both my teammates and the villagers I worked alongside while laying piping for the system.
During my sophomore year, I also applied for Wheaton in the Holy Lands (WIHL). This study abroad opportunity with bible and theology faculty members involves traveling during the summer to lands of the Bible. We spent time in Israel, Greece, Turkey, and Italy, journeying to sites where Scripture was brought to life. There are no sensations quite like splashing into the ‘sea’ where Jesus once walked or sweating in the baking sun in Jericho. It made the stories of the Bible come alive in my heart and mind as they took on tangible, beautiful new meaning. On the final morning in Jerusalem, I watched the sun rise from the Mount of Olives and wondered if Jesus had ever taken the time to soak up this view.
Now, during my last semester on campus, I’m working as an editorial intern at Wheaton magazine. In addition to carrying out traditional copyediting tasks and attending editorial planning meetings, I’ve also been able to publish the magazine’s print material online. My professional skill set has grown—I can now operate within a content management system (I didn’t even know what that was before I started here), maneuver through software like Photoshop, and conduct official interviews.
I’m an introvert—but that doesn’t mean I can let opportunities pass me by due to my uncertainty. Stepping out from my studies to engage other facets of experiential learning has transformed my life, and I’m so thankful for God making each risk worthwhile. As I look to the future that lay before me, I trust that God will continue to provide for this Hermit, wherever He leads me.
Beau Westlund ’14 is Wheaton magazine’s editorial intern. A senior from Bettendorf, Iowa, Beau is graduating with a degree in English with a concentration in writing, and hopes to work in the HR/PR/media field.
For the first time in my life, I had to face winter. And not just any winter, but a record Chicago winter. Prior to coming to Wheaton, I had never seen or touched snow before. The high elevation in my home country of Rwanda always provided cool weather throughout the whole year, with 82F average high and 58F average low. So my Kinyarwanda language did not even have the vocabulary word for snow. The cold winter was one of many new and exciting things I was able to experience during my first year at Wheaton College Graduate School.
I just completed my first year in the M.A. in Systematic Theology program. I had many challenges at the beginning of my program, such as adjusting to the rigorous pace of graduate studies and speaking and writing in English, my fourth language. But Wheaton College offered me the best studying environment that I could ever imagine. I lived with four roommates who were also international students, and each of us was from a different continent; what a great blessing! Though we all came from different cultures, we had a common culture of being Christian brothers.
I also had to leave my wife Hope and our three children: Moses (11), Esther (8), and Sandra (4) in Rwanda when I started my Theology program. Though I was apart from my family, Wheaton College became my family away from family. The Christian interaction between students, professors, and staff provided an excellent learning environment. Professors at Wheaton are so amazing! I always wondered how these professors are so knowledgeable, yet so very humble. They are not only academic professors, but also spiritual mentors.
Back at home, I am a church planting pastor and a theology teacher, where I serve as the General Secretary of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Rwanda; an association of indigenous churches that a team of 12 pastors and I founded in 2007. Since then, we have planted 33 more churches to bring our total number of churches to 45. This summer, I look forward to being home in Rwanda with my family and to return to my ministry. The first year is already gone and it seems that the time was so quick. I look forward to finishing my second year with great courage.
There I was, sitting casually in Dr. Barrett McRay’s class, sneakily checking my phone, when I let out a shriek. Before I knew it, everyone’s eyes were turned to me. I couldn’t unglue my eyes from the subject line of my most recent email: “Federal Bureau of Investigation—Congratulations!”
Over the next few weeks, as I weighed the offer to accept an internship with the FBI in Chicago, I reminisced about the excitement I felt when I met my first FBI agent in middle school. There was the idea of working for something greater than yourself: for justice.
Today I sit at my desk at the Bureau downtown, amazed at the chain of events that have occurred since I was offered my internship over a year ago. I’ve gone through a polygraph test, background investigation, internship credits, a hiring freeze, job applications, and an endless amount of questions: What does the future hold? Why do I really want to work for the FBI? And furthermore, can a career with the U.S. government build the Kingdom of God?
As I reflect on my years at Wheaton, I can’t pinpoint a specific class, experience, or individual person that has brought me to the place I am now. I wish we offered a class called “Working for the Kingdom of God and the FBI at the Same Time,” but that hasn’t made it into the course catalog (yet). What I can pinpoint is that my time at Wheaton has instilled in me an innate desire to use all I have to build the Kingdom of God.
Each day I walk into the office with a few questions on my mind: What is my ministry? How can I share experiences and interact with my co-workers in a manner that exudes Christ’s love? Each of these questions have been formed, honed, and modeled for me through my classes, conversations, and experiences at Wheaton.
What was a seed planted in my life by the living Gospel has been cultivated during my time at Wheaton. My desire to serve Christ’s Kingdom has been stroked, pruned, broken, challenged, revived, and most of all, empowered. It’s painted on a stone by Admissions, and proven in the lives of the people on this campus: Wheaton College truly stands “For Christ and His Kingdom.”
Somehow, for some reason, my resume was plucked out of a stack of hundreds as I made it to FBI Chicago with a badge and a desk—but also with so much more. The Lord has given me the unique opportunity to join the FBI, but Wheaton has given me a passion for Christ, for His Kingdom, and an army of believers to share this passion with. It is with this hope and truth that I step out in faith every day to build the Kingdom of God.
This post was written by a Wheaton College student who is currently working for the FBI and must remain anonymous