My Wheaton

Wheaton College at #Urbana15

Posted January 13, 2016 by Tony Abiera M.A. '16

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During the opening session of #urbana15, Tom Lin, the Vice President of InterVarsity USA, asked the audience of 16,000+ this simple question: “What story will you tell with your life?” As the theme of this year’s conference, this question deeply permeated the hearts of the audience, whether missionaries with decades of experience, college students thinking through their career paths, or recent graduates prayerfully considering job offers. We were all challenged to live our lives in light of God’s global mission, telling the story of Jesus in our diverse contexts.

My wife, Kelsey M.A. ’17, and I were very excited to attend our first Urbana Conference. We didn’t need to be convinced to “go” as missionaries—instead we were praying for God to bring clarity and direction to our desires. Our passion for cross-cultural missions began in college, when we each spent a summer sharing the gospel in East Asia and got involved in ministry to the international student population on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s campus. After graduating, we got married and began taking steps to "go" and gain a vision for cross-cultural church planting amongst unreached peoples. Our plans led us to Wheaton College Graduate School, where we are pursing degrees that we pray will equip us for more effective ministry overseas.              

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As we sat in the audience during the main sessions and seminars, God brought us clarity in a surprising way. Through several speakers, God reminded us that the first and most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). In David Platt’s main session, we were convicted that a heart for missions is not the same as a heart for God. We were called to examine our hearts and see if we were manufacturing a passion for missions while missing a heart for Jesus above all else.

This conference was a milestone for Kelsey and I. Not because all our questions were answered. But instead, because God used Urbana to gently remind us of our primary purpose in life—to love and worship God, which leads us to tell the beautiful story of Jesus to all nations.

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Tony is pursuing his master’s degree in TESOL & Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College Graduate School. His wife, Kelsey, is pursuing a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Learn more and apply on the Wheaton College Graduate School’s website

Photo Captions: The Urbana15 stage is ready for an evening session of worship music and speakers; Tony and his wife Kelsey take an Abiera selfie at the St. Louis capital building; the Graduate School team of faculty, staff, and students at the Urbana15 exhibitor booth.

Learning, Growing, Giving Back: Graduate Resident Adviser

Posted December 11, 2015 by Ethan Jones M.A. '17

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Three years had passed since I completed my undergraduate degree, and I was struggling to figure out what the next step in my life was going to be. I looked into seminary degrees and teaching, anxiously searching for hours online. It felt like I only had three truths to lean on: the discipleship relationships I had experienced brought me great joy, I had much to learn about practical ministry, and God had always been faithful to provide a next step.

After finding Wheaton’s Graduate Resident Adviser (GRA) position, my wife and I prayed for confirmation that this was the right next step. Soon after, I discovered that the GRA positions opened many educational and practical opportunities to disciple men and women in the Residence Life setting. The Holy Spirit made our next step clear: we would live and learn with the Wheaton family.

And honestly, Wheaton has truly become our spiritual family. Between the Christian Formation and Ministry (CFM) program with a concentration in Student Development, the weekly student gatherings in our apartment, the honest community of believers, and discipling men through tough issues, I am constantly amazed by God’s provision of learning and opportunity.

Through the CFM program, God has fanned the flames of my heart to love Jesus more. My professors have embodied the transformational power of a relationship with Christ, exemplifying how Christian education must revolve around knowing and experiencing Christ. As Charles Spurgeon prayed, “Lord, be present here, then will I look up from the book [Scripture] to the Lord—from the precept to Him who fulfilled it, from the Law to Him who honoured it, from the threatening to Him who has borne it for me, and from the promise to Him in whom it is ‘Yea and amen.’”

Ethan Jones M.A. '17 is pursuing a masters in Christian Formation and Ministry with a concentration in Student Development. He is a Graduate Resident Adviser (GRA) in Terrace Apartments, one of Wheaton's upperclassmen dorms, and works in the Residence Life Office. To learn more about Wheaton's graduate school, the CFM program, or the GRA position, visit their websites. 

#GivingTuesday: Cultivating An Attitude of Gratitude

Posted December 2, 2015 by Erica Forkner '17

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When I first came to Wheaton, I had no idea how important fundraising is to an institution like Wheaton College. Because I’m not receiving any direct financial help from the College, I always saw fundraising as an area of college life I could never connect with. However, all of these perceptions changed when I became involved in student leadership. Both my time on Student Alumni Board and my semester interning in the Office of Annual Giving opened my eyes to the importance of fundraising at Wheaton.

Throughout my internship with the Office of Annual Giving, I gained an even greater awareness of the ways Wheaton’s donor base made my time here possible. Regardless of whether a student is receiving financial aid or not, the Wheaton Fund subsidizes each student’s education by about $10,000 a year. The Fund also pays professors, takes care of facilities costs, and much more. Whether or not we’re aware of it, the Wheaton Fund plays a role in each of our Wheaton stories.

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One of my responsibilities as an intern has been to relaunch and rebrand the Advancement Associates program, now known as the Student Ambassadors program. As Student Ambassadors, we play a unique role in campus life: we are responsible for both donor care practices as well as student education of what fundraising looks like at Wheaton. We have the opportunity to engage a significant portion of the Wheaton family as we integrate Wheaton’s donor body with Wheaton’s current student body. We try to bring both together under the common ground of a deep love for Wheaton College and for its work for Christ and His Kingdom.

As a national holiday, focused on encouraging people to give back in response to Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday provides avenues to accomplish this. Our intention for #GivingTuesday was to thank those who have been so generous to Wheaton, both through their donations and their prayers. We celebrated #GivingTuesday this week by taking time as a student body to thank those that have made our Wheaton experience possible. We spent all day Tuesday in Lower Beamer educating students about the Wheaton Fund and asking them to write notes to thank those that have made our Wheaton experience possible. 

If Wheaton were to cost an extra $10,000, many students wouldn’t be here, and we wouldn’t be the community we are today. I think it’s critical that all students understand the impact of the Wheaton Fund on themselves, their peers, and our campus. #GivingTuesday is all about cultivating an attitude of gratitude at Wheaton.

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Erica Forkner '17 started the Student Ambassador group as part of her internship with the Office of Annual Giving. She now leads a group of eight Student Ambassadors. To learn more about giving to Wheaton, Wheaton Associates, and the Wheaton Fund, visit their websites.  

Photo credit: Kevin Schmalandt 

2015 Student Video Competition Winners

Posted November 25, 2015 by Zack Johnston 17, Larryon Truman 16, Matthew Adams '17

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For this year's 2015 video contest, we asked students to capture their Wheaton experience on video in less than three minutes. The videos were judged on originality, creativity, production quality, and reflection of Wheaton's Mission and Community Covenant. Here are the three winning selections:

Zack Johnston '17

"Our Wheaton"

"I really wanted to get at the heart of why I, and a number of people I know, are at Wheaton. There is a lot of talk about how it's a great education and you have tons of opportunities afterwards and we always have some really impressive Wheaton alum come speak for graduation or chapel or lectures or what have you... But their success isn't really my interest. I love that all that and more is true about Wheaton, but in actuality, I'm much more interested in the person sitting next to me than the person on stage or their accolades.

My original inspiration was the song "Beautiful Things" by Gungor. The idea is that God makes beautiful things out of each of us, and I genuinely consider it a privilege to be a part of or even merely a witness to the part of that process here at Wheaton." -- Zack Johnston '17

Larryon Truman '16

"Worship is a Lifestyle"

"My roommate, Conner Vick, and I wanted to portray worship as a lifestyle and more than just singing songs. Worship encompasses every aspect of our being, and we are able to glorify God by honoring him through the gifts He has given us. Through this video, we wanted to encourage the student body to be mindful that we can worship God in our day-to-day activities." -- Larryon Truman '16

Matthew Adams '17

"Feet of Wheaton"

"As a dancer, my feet help me communicate my passion and love for music! Through this video I am able to show the diversity of things feet do here at Wheaton. On top of that, these feet are effecting change for Christ and His kingdom which is truly beautiful!” -- Matthew Adams '17

Learn more about the winners on their author bio pages and check out last years winners here. Stay tuned for our student photo contest in Spring 2016. 

My Pre-Med Liberal Arts Experience

Posted November 18, 2015 by Daniel Tannous '16

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Growing up, I always heard positive things about Wheaton College from high school teachers and physicians who had attended. Despite my tour of campus on a cold, gray day, I was drawn to the College’s traditional brick buildings and strong academic programs. Walking through Edman Chapel, I knew this was a school where I would grow closer to Christ through relationships with my peers.

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I have been particularly thankful for the way Wheaton’s liberal arts program has enhanced my pre-med studies, shaping me into a better scholar in my pursuit of medical school. Taking Philosophy 101 helped me to better formulate my views on health care issues and changed the way I view what it means to be human. As I am particularly interested in pediatrics, my Developmental Psychology course provided me with a foundational understanding of children’s growth and development.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern abroad in Kunming, China, through the Applied Health Sciences (AHS) department. I was grateful for the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in some of my AHS classes to the work I was doing. For students interested in pursuing medical school, PA school, nursing school, and any other pre-health field, Wheaton is an excellent choice. With pre-health students from all different backgrounds, opportunities for research, and challenging classes, I have continued to give thanks for the ways I have been shaped by peers and professors.

Although I expected to grow spiritually throughout my time at Wheaton, I never anticipated the spiritual challenges Christ would use to call me to Himself.  As I have struggled with spiritual complacency and identity formation, my friends on campus have continued to encourage and support me. One of the biggest challenges I have faced at Wheaton has been prioritizing both my relationship with God and friends amid a busy schedule. I am continually thankful for the way my friends, chapel messages, and the College reminds me to keep Christ at the center of my life.

Daniel Tannous '16 is a senior Applied Health Science major. Originally from Phoenix, AZ, he grew up in Kunming, China. To learn more about Wheaton's Applied Health Science Program (AHS), visit their website. 

Photo Caption: Daniel with friends at Honey Rock over fall break. 

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