My Wheaton

How Wheaton College Graduate School is Preparing Me to Work in Student Development

Posted October 12, 2016 by Sarah Sagredo '12, M.A. '18

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My decision to apply to Wheaton College Graduate School's Christian Formation and Ministry – Student Development program was heavily influenced by my time living in the dorms and serving as a Resident Assistant as an undergraduate student at Wheaton. Being involved in Residence Life provided me the opportunity to take a broader look into the many ways students are supported outside the classroom. That year I started to consider what it might look like to work in the field higher education in a role where I would be able to walk alongside students during their college experience. 

While I looked into some other schools to continue my education, returning to my alma mater was my first choice. I knew that I would be receiving the highest quality education from professors who cared just as much about my personal and spiritual growth as my educational and professional development. Another important draw was the opportunity I would have to apply for an assistantship where I could gain practical skills and work experience while still in school. 

This year I have the great privilege to serve as the Graduate Student Assistant for the International Student Programs Office. We work to understand and value the unique needs of undergraduate international and third culture students and guide them to holistic success and meaningful engagement with the broader campus community. My primary role this year is to serve as the advisor for Ladder, one of our office’s student organizations. Ladder is a group of 16 international and third culture students who are making intentional connections with their first-year peers to help support them through their transition to Wheaton College. 

What I love most about my work in ISP is the opportunity to build relationships with the truly amazing students who are involved in our office. Though they come from all corners of the globe, their differences do not divide them. Instead, they celebrate the diverse ways that God made them and continues to shape them. They challenge me with their faith, especially their commitment to prayer. Every day they demonstrate to me what it means to be the body of Christ.

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Sarah Sagredo '12, M.A. '18 was a biblical studies major at Wheaton and is now a graduate student in the Christian Formation and Ministry – Student Development program. Photo captions (top to bottom): Ladder leaders for 2016-17; Ladder leaders "hanging out" during fall retreat.

Why I Came to Wheaton

Posted October 7, 2016 by Rebecca Carlson '20

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To be honest, Wheaton wasn’t even on my radar when I began to look at colleges. I knew quite a few Wheaton graduates and loved their stories, yet I never considered that Wheaton might be the place for me. When I had crossed off every school from my “prospective list,” Wheaton began to frequently pop up. I would randomly meet people–for example, a new intern at my church–who went there or knew people who went there. I felt prompted to visit.


Immediately upon arrival at Wheaton during my first campus visit in October 2015, I found a loving community, a wonderful tour guide and overnight host, and fantastic classes. Wheaton’s motto, “For Christ and His Kingdom,” spoke to me and what I want my life mission to be. I immediately got the impression that, unlike many other colleges, Wheaton stands behind its faith. Its motto impacts all aspects of life. I knew the search was over. I felt like I belonged, and knew Wheaton was a school where I would be academically challenged and where I could be honest about my religious struggles yet grow fiercely in my faith.

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And now I’m here. I’m almost two months into my freshman year, and I still can’t believe it. Wheaton is incredible. As a public high school graduate, I am still constantly amazed that, through the liberal arts curriculum, I am discussing how biology, elementary education, Spanish, and many other topics are “For Christ and His Kingdom.” There are hard days through the transition that come with moving 15 hours away from home, yet I couldn’t ask for a better community. My floor is incredible, my professors truly want to get to know me and care about my life, and God is good. Everyone here is cheering for one another.

My advice to any prospective students: Trust in God, He knows where you need to go. I hope and pray that Wheaton is the place that He is leading you to, because this is a beautiful place that will support you, love you, and challenge you to lean on the Lord as you grow into the person He created you to be. However, if He is leading you elsewhere, I pray that you will lean on Him throughout your first year because He is our firm foundation.

Blessings.

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Rebecca Carlson ’20 is an elementary education major with an ESL endorsement. To learn more about Wheaton and to apply, visit the undergraduate admissions website. Photo captions (top to bottom): Rebecca’s cabin with Dr. Keith Johnson during the Wheaton Passage program; Rebecca with floormates from Fischer Hall on a bro/sis trip to Chicago; Rebecca and her parents during Orientation Week.

My Cross-Cultural Experience with Wheaton Volleyball

Posted September 28, 2016 by Katie Rohrer '18

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When I was considering which college to go to, I knew I wanted to go to a school that would grow me spiritually as well as challenge me academically. Because my parents both went to Wheaton and my sister was attending at the time, I heard nothing but good things about it. After I was accepted, God continued to open doors making it very clear to me that Wheaton was where he wanted me to be. 

My high school volleyball coach was very optimistic about my athletic abilities and constantly pushed me to reach out to college coaches, but I was hesitant because I recognized that my experience playing for my small international high school in Japan was probably not enough to be successful at college ball. However, when I visited my sister at Wheaton, I reached out to Coach Brittany Smith and told her about my reservations toward playing in college. She was so understanding and assured me that with training, she could help me develop the confidence and skills needed to play competitively. After talking with her, I knew that if I played volleyball in college, I wanted to play for her. When she later offered me a spot, I accepted. 

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The highlight of my involvement with Wheaton’s volleyball program so far was the mission trip to Israel/Palestine that we took at the end of summer 2015. During this ten-day trip, we had the privilege of running volleyball camps for girls ages 4-13, playing volleyball with the Palestinian women’s team, visiting the holy sites, and building relationships with the people we met while also learning about the conflict there. Together we wrestled through difficult questions while growing closer to each other as a team and making memories that will last a lifetime. 

There is something so special about being on a team of women united for one purpose: to use our gifts to bring glory to God while competing to win. This purpose has fostered a deep trust among us, and has provided many opportunities to hold each other accountable to the standards that we have set. Never have I been so encouraged and supported by a group of women, nor have I been so pushed, challenged, and stretched. 

I love that I grew up in Japan, and I take pride in sharing my culture with others. Although this upbringing made adjusting to collegiate volleyball challenging, it has allowed me to be more sympathetic and aware of other cultures around me. There are definitely many challenges that come from playing collegiate volleyball, but through these I have learned about leadership, perseverance, strength, service, and drive. I have never experienced such genuine friendships and am so thankful for this opportunity that has grown me and blessed me so much over the past three years. 

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Katie Rohrer '18 is an elementary education major and hopes to become an elementary school teacher to encourage students from all backgrounds. She is a third year player for Wheaton's varsity volleyball team and recorded 65 kills last season. Photo captions (from top to bottom): Katie with the team on senior night, the final game of the 2015 season; Wheaton volleyball players with the Palestinian women’s team during a summer mission trip in 2015; members of Wheaton's women's volleyball team at an Atlanta Braves game in Georgia.

Why I Came to Wheaton's Conservatory of Music

Posted September 23, 2016 by Abigail Beerwart '19

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In all honesty, Wheaton wasn’t even on my radar when I was looking for a college to attend. Sure, I had heard of it, but it wasn’t a name that I had committed to memory. I wanted to be in an incredible music program, especially one that excelled in the vocal/opera department. I was convinced, however, that a Christian school just could not meet my standards. But now I see just how wrong I was!

I had some family friends practically beg me to check out Wheaton–their son graduated from Wheaton a few years back with a piano performance degree–so I finally, although somewhat grudgingly, agreed to visit. I scheduled an appointment to meet with Dr. Carolyn Hart, the Chair of Voice at the Conservatory of Music, so that I might understand what Wheaton had to offer for an aspiring opera singer such as myself. The arduous drive to Wheaton, which included driving through a blizzard, had my mother and I exchanging glances that asked, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” However, from the moment I set foot on campus, I knew that I had finally found it: my second home. 

Every individual with whom I interacted on that visit was warm, genuine, and overflowing with the love of Christ. The music program offered everything I could have possibly wanted: rigor, performance opportunities, and a huge focus on vocal health. Most importantly, I saw how the school truly did do everything “For Christ and His Kingdom.”

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When we finished our visit, my mother and I got in our car and sat for a moment before beginning our drive home. My mom asked, “So, what do you think?” For a beat I looked at the Conservatory before me, draped in a sparkling white robe of snow, before I turned to her and answered, “I can’t imagine going anywhere else!”

Jumping ahead to today, I am beginning my second year in Wheaton’s Conservatory of Music, and I have become friends with some of the kindest and most encouraging students and faculty imaginable. They genuinely care about me, pushing me to do more than I ever thought I could, and they lend a listening ear when I need it. My classes have propelled me forward, allowing me to understand and appreciate music like never before. My musicianship and vocal abilities have skyrocketed in ways that leave me dumbfounded. All of these wonderful experiences at Wheaton have solidified in me one simple, but meaningful, response: to praise God. 

The Conservatory of Music has fed me relationally, intellectually, musically, and spiritually, so obviously I still can’t imagine going to school anywhere else! That’s #MyWheaton.

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Abigail Beerwart ’19 is a sophomore studying vocal performance in opera through Wheaton College’s Conservatory of Music. Photo captions (from top): McAlister Hall, Wheaton's Conservatory of Music; student performers after the 2015 Opera Music Theater production of Benjamin Britten's Noye's Fludde; Abigail with Conservatory of Music classmates. 

Exploring Culture and Community with Koinonia

Posted September 16, 2016 by Michael Chen '17

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wheaton-college-koinoniaI have no dramatic story about getting involved in Koinonia. A few upperclassmen invited a friend and I to a Koinonia Large Group gathering, so we went. Though I wasn’t formally involved in Koinonia aside from attending Large Groups, the social support networks I found through Koinonia really made a difference in my freshman experience. I looked up to the upperclassmen and regularly ate with them and even stayed with several juniors during spring break. One of those juniors became my mentor the next year and, though he now lives in Hong Kong, has remained a close friend.

The events drew me in but the extensive support network kept me involved. Through Koinonia, I was able to develop a much deeper  understanding of my racial/ethnic background. I still remember my freshman year Fall Retreat, where I learned to neither be ashamed nor prideful of my cultural background, but rather allow God to use it for Kingdom-building. This idea transformed my experiences at Wheaton: I used my Mandarin to tutor immigrant children at the Pui Tak Center in Chinatown, I resolved conflict with my mother, I went to China for a semester, and I am now looking for opportunities in China after graduation.

It’s hard to express the privilege I feel in leading an organization that has impacted my life so deeply. As president, I try to emulate the successes of Koinonia by engaging with culture and capitalizing on our strength as a strong support network; however I also push myself and the cabinet to consider areas that need improvement.

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Perhaps the biggest question our organization faces this year is how to best plan for the future. The face of Wheaton is changing as Asian students now constitute over 10 percent of the undergraduate population, and with this comes both opportunity and responsibility: we have the opportunity to bring forward Asian and Asian American voices to help develop a more full  picture of God and His Kingdom here at Wheaton; we also have the responsibility to advocate for and serve these students. This semester, we will focus on identity formation through providing safe spaces for students to explore their backgrounds. In the spring we will focus on empowerment and equipping students to effectively articulate their identities and serve the community through their racial/cultural backgrounds.

 

I want to extend an open invitation for anyone to come to our Large Groups. These monthly events focus on informing all students on what it means to be Asian in America and offer a unique perspective on God and the Kingdom through an Asian lens. Our aim is not to become insular, but rather to provide spaces for people to engage in questions and discussions that are relevant to us all: Does God care about my background and experiences? How do I see my experiences through the lens of the Gospel? How has my culture shaped my faith?

 

Be on the lookout for our posters and emails! Feel free to contact me or another member if you have any questions.

 

Michael Chen ’17 is a senior studying sociology and history with a Chinese minor. Learn more about Koinonia on their website. Photo captions (from top): Students at Koinonia's Fall Retreat; students gather with their "family groups" to compete in the Family Group Olympics.

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