The Liberal Arts
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.
When I enrolled in Wheaton for my freshman year, I did not imagine I would be on the FOX 32 Chicago News set my senior year. I chose to pursue an Applied Health Science major because of my passion for health and science, and because of a mission trip I took to Haiti during my sophomore year that helped me better understand the global health crisis. I decided to take Wheaton’s intro to journalism class during my senior year to help me develop a platform to raise awareness for health issues around the world, and my professors encouraged me to apply for internships at broadcast news stations around Chicago. This semester I was given the opportunity to join FOX 32 Chicago News.
Initially I thought it would be difficult to arrive at work at the crack of dawn, but the energy at FOX during Good Morning Chicago makes it impossible to be tired. Reporters and anchors hustle and bustle about the station with their scripts in one hand and coffee cup in another, while editors and producers crank out final details of their work. On busy mornings, especially those during which controversial topics are aired, the phone rings off the hook while viewers call to voice their feedback. Every time I’ve been in the station, I feel like a sponge absorbing information. It’s all new and exciting! I’ve been immersed into a new culture and have been given the opportunity to learn a whole new language…because let me tell you, the TV industry speaks a language all their own!
My biggest challenge as an intern is deciding which opportunities to seize. Many times my supervisor assigns me a task, whether it’s helping the investigative producer find guests for the morning show, observing an editorial meeting, or going on assignment with a reporter and camera crew. Other days, it’s up to me to decide! I have spent a couple hours watching the editors work, learning to master the language of the run-downs for the morning show, and digging up old scripts from news anchors to rehearse on my own. I’ve made an effort to seek out individuals from each and every position at the station, from a cameraman to an anchor, and pick their minds about everything they do!
Learning is not limited to the nuts and bolts of the news industry—I’m thankful for the way Wheaton’s liberal arts curriculum has prepared me for a variety of assignments on the job. My internship also forces me to be up to date on current events, and I’m also given opportunities to be a part of the news. My faith has given me courage to pursue the adventure God has laid out for me in downtown Chicago, and while my dream is to become a health and science broadcast reporter, I’m open and beyond excited to whatever God has in store for me in the weeks leading up to graduation!
This is Alyssa Paulsen, your local news intern with FOX 32 Chicago.
Alyssa Paulsen '14 is pursuing an Applied Health Science major with involvement in Wheaton’s journalism certificate program. She plans to pursue a career in broadcast journalism focusing on health and science.
When I came to Wheaton, I expected it to be another four years of my high school experience. Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed high school, but I wanted college to be a new chapter of my life, not the rereading of an old one. During my senior year, I tried to stay away from any Christian college. I was headed straight for the most academically rigorous school out there, and I didn’t think a Christian school could give me the level of education I wanted.
At least, not until I came to Wheaton. When I visited, I became completely convinced that I could get a great Christian education. However, it wasn’t until I actually began to live here that I realized the value of the Wheaton community. In students, professors, everyone, the love of Christ shines brightly. If someone had told me that I would find a second family—most of which were within five years of my age—during the first year I came to Wheaton, I would have thought they were joking, but God provided.
As I began to grow in this community, I increasingly found quirky and idiosyncratic things about this place. I started to post and number the funniest, weirdest, and most impactful ones on Facebook as my very own Wheatonisms. Here are a few examples:
Wheatonism #4: “integration of faith and learning”
If you ever come to Wheaton, you’ll hear this over and over again, and thankfully, the professors mean it. I haven’t had a class yet in which the professor hasn’t connected the discipline with the Bible.
Wheatonism #10: People dress as Bible characters for Halloween
Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Not to mention Jesus…
Wheatonism #11: Chicken Finger Day in SAGA (Anderson Commons)
Chicken fingers come around once or twice a semester in the dining room, and trust me, you won’t understand until it happens. At home, I don’t even like chicken fingers. But here, it’s not just food; it’s part of the culture.
Wheatonism #19: Floating
Okay, so first, you craft a root beer float using two straws, then you find a couple that looks like they might be on a first date. (Bonus points if at least one of them is a close friend!) You walk up to the table sneakily, and put the float between them. Let the awkwardness begin!
Wheatonism #24: Professors Care
One of your profs begins to tear up as he says, "If anything I have taught you has been of Christ, hold on to it. If anything I have taught has not been of Christ, I pray that God would cast it away from you. At the end of the day, I hope you saw Christ, not me, in this class." Needless to say, there was a rush of applause at the end of that day, for we did see Christ in that room, every day we were in it. However, it was not merely the level of respect for God's word and honest search for its understanding which won our hearts and ears, but also the care for the lives of each and every one of his 100+ students, shown partly by the fact that he knew ALL of our names.
So all in all, my freshman year a Wheaton has been great so far! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings. But a piece of advice to all of you prospective students out there: If you want to find a place where people search for God wholeheartedly, love each other in community, and seek for knowledge deeply, come to Wheaton. That’s who we are.
With more than 200 music majors and highly qualified faculty, the Wheaton Conservatory of Music has become a notable center in music education. I interviewed Hong Kong native and Music Composition major, Elliot Leung '17 about why he came to Wheaton and what his experience has been so far in the conservatory.
Alex: Why did you decide on coming to the Wheaton Conservatory?
Elliot: It's always been a dream to compose music for video games and movies. I hope I make it there one day. I've been doing a lot of both amateur music and composing work in Hong Kong, writing music for my school and a company called Tony Films Co. I knew Marty O’Donnell, the composer for Halo (one of the video games I play a lot) came to Wheaton and heard about the great composition program. So, I decided to follow his footsteps - attend Wheaton College for composition and later go to USC for the great Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television (SMPTV) degree.
Alex: How has your experience been at Wheaton as an international student?
Elliot: I grew up in an international Christian school in Hong Kong, so the Christian environment is similar. I love the professors here - they make everything interesting. Professors really want you to succeed here, so they'll try their best to make sure you do. Because Wheaton is a smaller school, and I have completed courses such as Digital Music 300, I'm also able to use the studios a lot. I love the many opportunities I get to compose soundtrack music, both in and outside of school. I'm currently scoring a 10-episode series called "Taking the Land Open" for the Athletic department.
Alex: What is your favorite class?
Elliot: As of now, my favorite class has to be music notation, Dr. Gordon makes it so funny. I don't remember a class where I did not laugh. Besides that, it's a small class, (5 people), so we all get to know each other really well.
Alex: What are you majoring in?
Elliot: I always tell people that I am majoring in soundtrack composition, though the degree I'm going to receive through Wheaton is Music Composition. The specialization degree takes an extra year to complete.
Alex: What do you hope to do with your degree?
Elliot: I have been set on getting into the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program at the University of Southern California since day one and have been studying for this even while I was in Hong Kong. What I learn in class is great and also helps with film/video game scoring, but in addition, I immerse myself into reading, listening, and composing for a lot of side projects.
Check out Elliot playing the cello in this year's Christmas card!
We asked students, faculty, and staff to describe their semester in one word and here is what we got:
From Orientation to finals week, it has been an awesome semester and we can't wait for next year!