The Liberal Arts
Upon coming to Wheaton, scientific research was not my idea of an exciting extracurricular. For me, science was a means to an end. I needed certain classes for graduate school. But I wasn’t that into the science itself.
As I entered my second year at Wheaton, this began to change. I was studying human anatomy, and could frequently be found telling anyone who would listen to me about the incredible things going on inside their bodies. The human body was like a divinely directed magic show with invisible, unbelievable complexities that somehow worked in tandem to allow me to do activities as simple as lifting my arm.
Second semester of my sophomore year, I took Physiology with Dr. Hunt. On the first day of class, he assigned each student a long-term group research project. He approached my group with an idea, spouting off foreign sounding words like “flow-mediated dilation,” “endothelial cells,” and “meta-analysis.”
I remember feeling even more lost after our first meeting with Dr. Thom, our other collaborating professor. But we pressed onward with the research, investigating the potential negative impact of eating carbohydrate-rich meals on vascular health because of the high rates of cardiovascular disease in America.
As summer approached, I was asked to stay on campus and continue researching, an opportunity provided by donations made to the Wheaton Research and Residence Program, or “Wheaton in the Lab,” as we affectionately called it. Since Dr. Thom was the professor guiding the process, I became his research assistant. And our meta-analysis became my project.
Although I spent a significant amount of my summer reading articles—due to the nature of a meta-analysis, which is essentially a fancy literature review but with a quantitative representation of the dependent variable—it was by far my favorite part of the research process. The more I read about Flow-Mediated Dilation (FMD), the more I understood it, and the more interesting it became. Dr. Thom gave me a lot of independence, while offering enough guidance and mentorship that I did not feel abandoned. Approximately once a week, we would have longer meetings to discuss articles I had been reading and our next steps, with brief interjections about Dr. Thom’s kids. Occasionally, we would go running down the hall to Dr. Hunt’s office with some urgent question about endothelial cells or FMD.
As the summer drew to a close, we had started the initial stages of data analysis, a process that has continued throughout this year. This March, I have the incredible opportunity to present our research at the Experimental Biology Conference, before we complete our analyses.
Over 400 hours of research later, all of those big, science-y words from that first meeting intimately describe the latter part of my time at Wheaton, along with the project that I have poured my time and energy into. Now that I voluntarily do research in my spare time, I suppose it is finally time to proudly take my place among the ranks of the “science nerds.”
Amy Early is a junior studying French and pre-health. Learn more about her on her author bio page.
“Submit to Kodon.” I saw the ominous phrase plastered all over campus in simple font on cream-colored posters. As a freshman with an overactive imagination, I promptly looked into whether or not it was as scary as it sounded.
After a bit of research, I found out it wasn’t. Kodon is Wheaton’s art and literary journal, a collaborative endeavor between students, faculty advisors, and the College Board of Trustees. Each semester, students all over campus—regardless of major—are encouraged to submit their works of poetry, fiction, visual art or nonfiction to be published in this journal that the whole campus can read.
As an aspiring English major lured by this prospect of glory, I submitted my first poem to Kodon in the fall of my freshman year. It was about cats and a really big world-changing metaphor of ignorance and practicality. It did not get published.
My sophomore year, armed with a sharper pencil and a narrower topic, I submitted a second poem that did get published. And as any writer will tell you, getting published is about as exciting as it gets—whether it’s a literary journal or an online magazine—as long as someone who’s not your mom thinks your words are worth their time.
I guess that’s why I’ve stuck with Kodon, and why I’ve stuck with writing in general: I want to find the right thing to say. Sometimes you’re lucky and the first draft says precisely what you mean, clearly and enchantingly and precisely specific to your own voice. More often than not, though, you’re left clawing your way through the same four lines of a poem that has all the right intentions and none of the cadence for months on end.
Writing is a mess. It’s a process. And now, as Kodon's assistant editor, I can tell you that editing is no different. Organizing and drafting your own work is frazzling enough; navigating your way through 150 poems to find 10 publishable ones is an entirely different animal.
And that is where collaboration—the great guidepost to artists everywhere—becomes invaluable. Working with fellow staff members on anything from decisions to omissions has forced me out of complacency when the magic of writing has momentarily lost its shine. Reading the work of students on campus forces me to square up with other creatives in a way I otherwise wouldn’t, causing me to constantly reevaluate the necessity of my work at Kodon, and my work as a writer in general.
Let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t ignore those ominous cream-coloured posters my freshman year.
Jessie Epstein ’16 is a junior studying English writing. Read more about her Wheaton experience on her author bio page. Photo credits: Whitney Bauck '15.
When described on paper, Matthew Adams '17 may seem like a thoroughly left-brained academic, focusing on pre-med classes as a freshman before switching to a political science major and ultimately hoping to pursue a career in law after he graduates from Wheaton.
What doesn’t come out on paper, though, is Matthew’s profound love for dance.
“When I step onto a dance floor, especially when I’m there by myself just worshipping God, there’s this peace that comes over me,” Matthew says.
In addition to dancing alone in the SRC studio or informally with his friends, Matthew has found an outlet for his passion through his involvement with Zoe’s Feet, a ministry on campus that seeks to facilitate worship for performers and their audiences through live dance routines.
“Zoe means life; and Zoe’s feet is like ‘life-feet,’ showing the life that God has given us, through dance,” Matthew notes.
The group brings together dancers with different stylistic backgrounds and different degrees of experience, uniting a diverse group of dancers with the goal of embodying worship through movement. While some Zoe’s Feet members have been dancing since childhood, others, like Matthew, only recently discovered their love for dance.
“I started [dancing] my senior year of high school, which is kind of unbelievable,” Matthew explains. “But I really just felt called to dance and worship with my body… I really enjoyed it and I was good at it, as well, so that’s why I decided to start it here at Wheaton College.
Zoe’s Feet members dance together, but they also meet regularly to fellowship and support one another spiritually. To Matthew, the potential for dance to operate as worship is so strong that the connection between praying together and twirling together seems natural.
“I feel like God created dance so we could worship him, because it’s giving our entire selves to him, which is a beautiful thing,” he says. “And that’s what dance allows me to do.”
Matthew Adams is a sophomore political science major from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Learn more about his dreams and favorite Wheaton moments on his author bio page.
From the first BITH 111 class to the last senior seminar, Wheaton students become well-versed in talking about the integration of faith and learning. Slightly less common is the conversation about faith and work—until last month, when Opus: the Art of Work launched on Wheaton’s campus.
Headquartered in the Billy Graham Center, Opus is a new institute that “exists to provide leadership in the interdisciplinary study of faith and work, and to prepare Christians to flourish in a breadth of vocational roles for the sake of the common good.” Opus intends to serve Wheaton students, faculty, and off-campus constituents by hosting activities and programs such as an undergraduate vocational discernment program, a faculty fellowship program, church workshops, and various public speakers and events.
On Saturday, January 24, Opus hosted its first official event to kick off launch week. Nancy Writebol, a missionary and Ebola survivor, and Admiral Tim Ziemer, coordinator of the President’s Malaria Initiative, spoke to an audience of students, faculty, and community members about their callings to service.
The rest of the week was filled with one fantastic event after another, including panels on solutions for poverty alleviation, entrepreneurship and innovation, a public discussion on faith and vocation, and a lecture and interview with members of the Redeemer Presbyterian Gotham Fellowship.
On Tuesday afternoon, I attended a panel called “Creativity Wanted: How Business, Mathematics, and the Hard Sciences Need Artists and Other Creative Thinkers.” Steve Garber, Dr. Kristen Page, Phil Vischer, and Mark Woodworth each spoke brilliantly on how art and science are never separate within their respective professions, but are integral parts of their work.
Mark Woodworth summed up the discussion well by saying, “We need art for life, and vice versa.” He posed the question, “How can I serve the needs of others, especially needs for truth, beauty, and good?”
On Wednesday evening, I had another opportunity to learn from people who are answering that question in their own lives. Katherine Leary Alsdorf and the Gotham Fellows kindly sat down with students to answer questions in a “speed-networking” format where groups rotated every 20 minutes. I thought this was a great way for students to engage with people who could give invaluable advice and insight into the professional world beyond Wheaton.
Opus Launch Week came to a close on Thursday, January 29th. Junior Zach Kahler, director of the Opus Student Strategy Team, described his own excitement for the new institute: “I’ve really appreciated the opportunity I’ve had to participate in Opus's debut…It’s been great to see a movement on Wheaton’s campus that emphasizes the truth of God calling us to a broad range of vocational fields for his glory.”
Sarah Britton Miller ’17 is a sophomore studying communications and international relations. Photos (from top): Mark Woodworth explaining a wood photography piece during the "Creativity Wanted" panel; Phil Vischer speaking during the "Creativity Wanted" panel; Nancy and David Writebol.
Credits: Zach Erwin ’17.
When I applied to Wheaton, I did not expect to have the means to afford attending. Nonetheless, when I received my financial award package, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Wheaton’s financial aid department had made it possible for me to come--something I would have not known if I did not apply.
That said, here are three financial aid tips that have made my Wheaton experience affordable:
- Apply to Wheaton
The first tip I would offer someone who is thinking about committing to Wheaton is to apply. One may well wonder how Wheaton can have a reputation for an eyebrow-raising tuition price tag and also be on Fiske’s shortlist of Best Buy schools. The answer to this is the Financial Aid department.
- Talk to Financial Aid
You’ve matriculated, you’ve had some treats at Sam’s Café, and you’ve Instagrammed Blanchard Hall. It may seem as if your Wheaton financial aid experience can be put on autopilot. Hopefully this is true, but sometimes unexpected events knock one off course financially. When this happened to me, and threatened my return to Wheaton, I went to the financial aid department to discuss my situation. It was then that I found they are not only good at getting students into Wheaton, they are good at keeping them here.
- Talk to Your Academic Advisers
Because I want to specialize in medieval Scandinavian artwork, there are not a lot of travel abroad posters hanging in Lower Beamer student center that apply to me. I had to do some research before I found there was a perfect opportunity for me to study at the University of Oslo. As often is the case for study abroad, finding the funding to go is just as important as finding a place to go. It was with the help of my academic adviser that I learned where and how to look for these funding opportunities. Your academic advisers have likely applied for these kinds of things their whole career and will have excellent instincts and advice.
Stephen Westich ’15 is an art history major from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. Apply to Wheaton and learn more about their financial aid packages on the financial aid website.