The Liberal Arts

How Arena Theater Helped Me Find My Tribe

Posted November 2, 2016 by Rebecca Watkins '18

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Coming to Wheaton, I was sure that Arena Theater was a community that I was meant to be a part of. As a missionary kid, I have experienced the feeling of having no idea where to call home, but this community of artists has given me that feeling in a real way. We sometimes call it finding your “tribe,” and that is exactly what I have come to find. I chose to participate in Arena Theater because I recognized that it was a tribe of people who truly care for each other, and I was hungry for that.

This year, I am blessed to be a part of Fiddler on the Roof, which is my favorite show. For me, the work is directly applicable to the world and to my life. Being from Ukraine and having experienced similar situations as the characters has opened me up to healing and appreciation for my story and the story of others. I am in the show and work as a props manager and in marketing. It’s a lot to have on my plate, but it is work that I love doing. These people–who I consider to be family–surprise me every day with their work on the show. Mark Lewis’ commitment to playing the main role and directing the show is inspiring. He carries the stories with deep empathy, just like he does with the stories of his students. As we all spend hours learning the choreography, meet about how to make fake cheese, and celebrate tradition together, we are participating in life together, like the village we are representing on stage. 

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Again, the teachers in this theater are a wonderful blessing in my life. Michael Stauffer shows me how theater can really heal the evils in the world, Andy Mangin teaches me about how capable I am to do what I have been tasked, Mark Lewis teaches Shakespeare to us willing and hungry students, and Heidi Elliot is a source of constant guidance. This doesn’t even include my fellow students and alumni who I have been guided by as well.

For students thinking about joining Arena Theater, I would like to again emphasize that the tools this program gives you are valuable. You learn how to be an artistic citizen. Whether you join the Workout ensemble, work on the set, take classes, or help with ticket sales, it is all equally valuable and good work. 

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Rebecca Watkins ’18 is a communication major with a concentration in theater. To learn more about Arena Theater and upcoming performances, visit their websiteTo learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now. Photo captions (top to bottom): Part of the cast of Fiddler on the Roof; Director Mark Lewis as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof; cast of Fiddler on the Roof eating dinner during a long day of rehearsals. Photos courtesy of Keenan Dava ’18.

My Wheaton Experience as the First-Ever Undergraduate Student from Estonia

Posted October 28, 2016 by Simona Andreas '18

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My decision to come to the United States for the first time as a 19-year-old was prompted by my dream as a 6-year-old kid. My dad told me that I was six when I first declared that I would one day move to America. When asked if I knew where or what it was, I simply shouted: “No, but I’m going!” 

I found Wheaton College when Google-searching colleges in the U.S., and I was surprised as I read about Christian colleges for the first time in my life. In Estonia, where I was born and raised, we have 1.3 million people, out of which less than 2 percent are Christian. This reality doesn’t generate many Christian educational institutions. It became clear to me that a Christian college was everything I didn’t know I was looking for. I knew Wheaton was the place for me because the vision and the mission of the school catered to my ambitions and hopes. 

When I stepped off the bus after spending a week in the Passage program at HoneyRock, I was disoriented, scared, thrilled, and very confused. The word spread quickly that I was the first Estonian to ever come to Wheaton and study in the undergraduate program. All of my classmates seemed very enthusiastic about the fact, even though most had no idea where the tiny country was located

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While I enjoy bragging rights both in Estonia and at Wheaton, it is at times challenging to be the first and only student from Estonia. For me, this means that I get to set the scene for the next Estonians to come after me. Even though it’s hard to find people around me who can relate to my background, I love bringing a new culture and a new perspective to my classrooms and relationships. For Wheaton, this means that their vision is reaching new countries and the student body is growing in geographical diversity. 

The best part about my Wheaton experience has been the people that I’ve met here. Coming from another culture, I wasn’t accustomed to spending time with my professors and getting to know them on a personal level. I definitely experienced some culture shock as a freshman when Dr. Milliner invited me to join his family for Thanksgiving at his house. Ever since then, I’ve tried to get to know all of my professors through meals or office hours. Every one of them has been very welcoming and highly influential in my life. It’s been fun to be immersed in the American culture and meet people from all across the globe. The friends I’ve made here have made my Wheaton experience truly amazing. 

Wheaton is unique in the way all parts of its community are connected and long for each other’s well-being. I am privileged to be a part of the family and I’m glad to say that I feel at home here. 

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Simona Andreas ’18 is a psychology and biblical and theological studies double major from Tallinn, Estonia. She is actively involved in Student Government at Wheaton as the EVP of Global EngagementTo learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now. Photo captions (top to bottom): Simona frequently visits downtown Chicago; Simona's hometown of Tallinn, Estonia; Simona taking photos at the Skydeck at Willis Tower.

Ministry and Healing Through Wheaton's Community Art Program

Posted October 19, 2016 by John Mark Daniel '19

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During my college search senior year I was looking at different art programs. I saw that Wheaton had a Community Art major, which was something I had never heard of nor seen at any other school. From the Wheaton website my understanding was that, basically, Community Art combines art-making and people. I knew then that this was what I was called to study and as I have learned more about what it means, I have come to love it more and more. 

I am currently in Community Art 1 and my favorite thing about the class has been the Wednesday class dinners. During these dinners, we continue our lecture from that day and ask each other questions. This has allowed us to become really close as a class and dive deeper into the topics through sharing our opinions.

My classmates and I are currently working on a mural project in collaboration with an English Writing class about writing for community art. The subject of our mural is zebras and stress. These two things may seem to have no relation at first, but let me explain. One day in class, a fellow classmate brought up that she learned that zebras do not experience stress like humans do, so they don’t experience the negative effects that stress can have on the body. So Professor Samuelson decided that the subject of our mural would be zebras. With the English Writing class, we collaged zebra masks and took a class photo which we are now painting. We hope that through this mural we can raise awareness about the health effects stress can have and that mental health can be a topic we talk about more openly on campus.

community-art-2One question that I have been working through is, how do we know when a community art project has been successful? I still do not have a clear answer to this and it is something we will be working through this semester. A lot of the topics we cover examine the different ways that a community art project can be successful. For example, last week we all shared what we would like to teach or heal through community art. So, if we accomplished what we wanted by teaching or healing, but the art project is not aesthetically pleasing, is it still a success? I think this can be a challenging part of community art and I am excited to learn more of how to approach it this semester.

If you are considering pursuing Community Art as a major, I would say to go for it. Community Art is more than painting murals with other people. The things I am learning in class have already been so useful in so many aspects of my life–you can apply the things you will learn in Community Art to anything you do.

I am happy that I decided to come to Wheaton because of the amazing people I have in my life now. I have made some of my closest friends here–friends that truly care about me and challenge me to be a better person.

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John Mark Daniel ’19 is a sophomore Art and Spanish double major. To learn more about Wheaton’s Community Art and Missions major, click here. Photo captions (top to bottom): John Mark Daniel's Community Art class posing with zebra masks in front of Edman Chapel; the Community Art 1 class working on the zebra mural together; current progress on the mural.

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 Internship at Samaritan’s Purse

Posted July 6, 2016 by Brielle Lisa '18

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“Mom! We have to go to the store right away! I want to get her a notebook and colored pencils!” 

Year after year I remember incessantly pestering my mother so I could go pick out toys for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. That was my first exposure to Samaritan’s Purse.

My next exposure to Samaritan’s Purse was during fall of my freshman year at Wheaton, when representatives came to Wheaton’s campus to recruit for their internship program. That day, I made a mental note to apply for an internship during the following year. This past fall, I had my heart set on becoming a #SPintern

I was drawn to this internship for multiple reasons, first and foremost because Samaritan’s Purse not only meets people's physical, earthly needs, but also their spiritual, eternal needs. Samaritan’s Purse serves for Christ and His Kingdom.

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Throughout my application process, Wheaton’s Center of Vocation and Career reviewed my resume and cover letter, provided me with access to Big Interview (interactive online interview tutorials), and encouraged me each step of the way. 

Now I am almost halfway through my internship as an editorial intern in the Communications Department at Samaritan’s Purse’s International Headquarters in Boone, NC. I spend time writing, editing, researching, and marketing. One of the most exciting projects I am a part of is an Operation Christmas Child marketing campaign targeting 15-23 year olds. As part of the target demographic, I have been able to contribute a valuable perspective. I am also traveling to the Philippines as the lead writer for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox distribution in July—it is amazing how God orchestrates full circle stories.

I enjoy beginning every work day with staff devotions, a time when all 600 employees meet together; “grabbing meals” with my coworkers; hiking after work with fellow interns; and seeing familiar Wheaton faces as there are 11 other Wheaton students interning here, too! 

My goal for my internship is to learn as much as possible—about writing, editing, relief work, professionalism, people’s stories, and Christ’s call on my life. With that, I am thankful for all I have learned at Wheaton. My Christian liberal arts education teaches me to synthesize and think theologically. My professors teach me to show and not tell stories, to read critically, and to communicate clearly. The Wheaton student body, faculty, and staff teach me how to live in community. I get to use all these skills during my internship.

With the next half of the summer still to come, I look forward to traveling to the Philippines, learning more around the office, adventuring in the North Carolina mountains, and developing a keen awareness of God’s perfect timing.

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Brielle Lisa '18 is a English writing major with minors in communication and biblical and theological studies. She is currently an intern at Samaritan’s Purse. To learn more, visit their website

Photo captions (from top): Brielle Lisa '18 in front of the Samaritan’s Purse sign; Wheaton interns at Samaritan's Purse, summer 2016: Alexa Dava '17, Brielle Lisa '18, Bella McKay '18, Lydia Kwarteng '17, Jillian Hedges '17, Christy Carlson '17. Row 2: Hannah Sohmer '17, Nicole Kitchen '18, Daniel Travis '17, Joseph Perry '16, Brent Westergren '17, Abby Prince '18; Brielle Lisa '18 and Abby Prince '18 take a hike on Snake Mountain in North Carolina.


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