September 2015

My Life as a Film Composer at Wheaton

Posted September 30, 2015 by Elliot Leung '16

Tags: ,


I came to Wheaton from Hong Kong to study at the Conservatory of Music knowing little to nothing about Wheaton and what it would mean to me in terms of growth, teaching, mentoring opportunities, and friendships in the years to come.

The best thing about Wheaton is the atmosphere and the people—they are so friendly! For example, when I first asked a Conservatory of Music classmate to play a concert piece of mine, I was planning to establish a business relationship: I pay him, he plays it, he takes the money, we part ways. However, that wasn't how things went. I ended up becoming friends with him, and that's what is unique about this place. Wheaton has people who are encouraging, supportive, and who genuinely care about what you do and are happy for your accomplishments.


I've spent one-on-one lesson times with all four music composition professors in the Conservatory of Music. Private composition lessons helped me the most since they tailor the education for my specific needs.  My favorite professor is Dr. Sommerville. I've had him for three years in a row now and since most of my film music is set for orchestra, I usually send him either cues or orchestrations for comments. Even though it's not related to Dr. Sommerville's work, he gives me very practical pointers and highlights the good parts. It's a constant joy learning from him.

Two summers ago, I helped with the score for my first cinema film called 暴瘋語 (Insanity) released in all major cinemas in Asia. I freelance on a regular basis. Some commissioning highlights in the U.S. include composing Beverly Hills Vista School's graduation fanfare (Los Angeles) and placing music on the Miss Indiana Pageant event. I just got hired to be the lead composer of a cinema film called Lost in Hong Kong (to be released in Hong Kong in July 2015) because of my musical ability, but more because of my attitude, according to the producer.

I'm fortunate enough to be in a place in life where I thought I would be when I'm 30 right now because of the community's constant support, individualized training, and God's grace. Thanks to Wheaton, I became a happier person and I cannot stress more how great the community here is.


Elliot Leung ’16 is a junior music composition major from Hong Kong. To experience his work, visit his website. Photo captions: Elliot conducts scoring sessions and concert music performances, visits and networks with companies including DreamWorks, and performs his pieces in a contemporary concert. Learn more about Wheaton's Conservatory of Music on their website.

Wheaton in Germany at Berlin City Mission

Posted September 25, 2015 by Clementine Kane '18

Tags: , ,


Over the summer I spent two months in Germany with Wheaton in Germany, an immersive history, culture, and language program. In late June we began the internship portion of the program, working at the Berlin City Mission, an evangelical organization with functions ranging from neighborhood childcare to a youth hostel.

Along with several others, I worked at the refugee reception center, a temporary structure built to serve the overwhelming numbers of Syrian and Albanian refugees flooding into Berlin. The building housed around 500 people while helping them apply for asylum, learn German, and resettle in government housing. From the moment the refugees arrive--exhausted, tense, and with almost nothing but the clothes on their backs--they are welcomed and treated kindly and respectfully. I worked an evening shift in the kitchen, spending the rest of my days exploring the city’s museums and cafes.

As I became friends with the Syrian children and their families, I began to spend more of my free time at the center, playing soccer, giving the children much needed affection and attention, teaching basic German to the adults, and relaxing outside late into the evening as the family that “adopted” me discussed politics. One evening towards the end of my internship, I became part of the reception process first-hand.


It was already about 11 p.m., and I was sitting with my adopted Syrian family listening to them talk about Middle Eastern politics and cuddling with the children. Suddenly my friend Amr, an Egyptian Coptic Christian who works at the center, asked me to come with him. A new Syrian family had just arrived and they needed to apply for asylum at the nearby police station before they could stay at the reception center. Amr could speak with the family but he needed me to translate into German. I felt adrenaline rush through me as I realized that for the first time, something important depended on my familiarity with my second language.

My heart went out to the family who had traveled for multiple days with their whole life contained in two bags. Their two young daughters were visibly exhausted, and although the parents were wonderfully patient, it was clear they were also fatigued. We took them to the police station and, working together, Amr and I filled out the necessary paperwork for them. Unfortunately, the family had to wait at the police station for five hours while the papers were processed. It was uncomfortable there, so we returned to the center to retrieve food and blankets for the family. It was a small gesture but their gratitude was evident, and I hope they felt a warmer welcome into their new country than the police station offered. I was joyful to be in the right place at the right time and grateful I worked at a center that allowed me such experiences.


Clementine Kane ’18 is a sophomore studying art history with a minor in German who participated in Wheaton in Germany. Photo Captions: Clementine and Tim Wruck ’17 working at a summer festival hosted by Berlin City Mission; two refugee children at Berlin City Mission; the refugee center at Berlin City Mission.

Wheaton Passage: From Separation to Integration

Posted September 14, 2015 by Charlston Ong '19

Tags: , ,


Technology is an essential part of our lives. Well, for my life at least. So when I found out I would not be able to update family and friends during Passage at HoneyRock, my heart sank. However, as the days went by, I was really glad that we didn’t have access to electronic devices. 

When we first arrived at HoneyRock, it was late in the night, and tiki torches illuminated our path to a campfire on top of a hill. Worship music started playing softly and everyone started singing. The stars lit up the night sky and with a glow stick from our cabin leaders, we headed to our cabins to settle in. That is where I met the members of Cabin 18 for the first time. It felt overwhelming to me coming from Singapore, which has a totally different culture from United States, but as the days went by, the friendliness and the closeness of our group helped not only me but also the group integrate into Wheaton’s community. 


We were so close that we even had to remind ourselves to go in pairs to sit with others at different groups during meal times, instead of sitting together. We also met Cabin 12, our sister cabin, and bonded over games and activities. Besides getting to know these two groups of people, I slowly opened up and interacted with others at HoneyRock. I would say the absence of technology helped us “live in the moments” of camp and also helped us connect to God on a more personal level. Even the professors helped to break down barriers, which helped tremendously. As Passage came to a close, tiki torches illuminated our paths to the closing ceremony once again, signifying the end with more worship songs around a campfire. Our closeness as whole camp of people was evident. It felt like it was still going to be evident when we arrived back on Wheaton’s campus. 

The members of Cabins 12 and 18 still make it a point to greet each other and have meals with each other on Wheaton’s campus. I am really glad that I attended Passage—the eight days of fun and adventure really eased my process of integration into the Wheaton Community. This is an experience I will never forget, and I wish I could do it all over again. 


Charlston Ong ’19 is a freshman at Wheaton. Find out more about the Wheaton Passage program at HoneyRock. Photo captions (from top): Fellowship around a campfire at HoneyRock; Members of Cabins 12 and 18 get ice cream in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, and gather at the Loberg Lodge cafeteria; Charlston (front, center) and fellow members of Cabin 18 arrive at HoneyRock.

Navigating the Competitive World of Journalism

Posted September 11, 2015 by Kirkland An '17

Tags: ,


Dear Reader,

I don’t think that I am the most qualified person to write about journalism from Wheaton College, but I do think I’ve been blessed these past two years to do things that let me speak about journalism in a unique way. I picked up a journalism certificate at the tail end of my freshman year, and nearly simultaneously applied for The Wheaton Record’s editorial staff. I joined as the school newspaper’s associate editor at the start of my second year. Through a somewhat bizarre series of events, I landed an internship with the Chicago Tribune this past summer, editing and designing for the Midwest’s biggest newspaper. As a junior, I’m now the editor in chief of The Wheaton Record. 

It’s still the beginning of a career path, but I’ve learned a lot since my freshman year. I hope that these tips can help you navigate the competitive world of journalism, especially if you’re looking to go down a path similar to mine. 

  1.  Networking is everything. From what I can tell, if you’re not comfortable with a firm handshake/elevator pitch/business card approach, then it will be hard to get what you want. Journalism is crazy competitive. If you’re attending a liberal arts school — or, not a journalism school in general — you’re already at a slight disadvantage. Fortunately, not everyone who attends a journalism school is good at networking; that’s something that is determined by the individual, not the college they attend. Without talking to people who are in-the-know, I wouldn’t have been offered any of the opportunities I’ve received. Ask to shadow, too — it’s probably the smallest commitment for the person you want to shadow and you get that person to yourself for a whole work day! 
  2. Shoeleather journalism is still the best. Yes, emailing your sources is easier and then you don’t have to actually talk to them face-to-face. However, interviews conducted “in real life” will get you the visceral, off-the-cuff responses that are more genuine and less tailored. It will make your piece more believable and you will build trust with the interviewee as a real person, not an email address. 
  3.  Coding knowledge is a necessity. If you’re around my age, and you still don’t know how to code, you should probably jump on that. It’s necessary for you to know the basics of coding to stay relevant in the workplace, especially in journalism. Learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the basic web design languages as soon as you can – more and more internships are requiring these skills of their interns. 
  4. Internships open AND close early! Journalism internships open around September and close around December — some end even earlier. Make sure you don’t wait to get your application in. 
  5. Learn everything. The more things about journalism that you know, the more attractive you will be to future employers. With its staff size shrinking, each newsroom requires every one of its employees to be able to do more things. Don’t stop at writing — learn design, code, editing, and photography! 


Kirkland An '17 is a junior studying political science with a journalism certificate. Learn more about The Wheaton Record online. Photo captions (from top): Kirk explores the city of Chicago with his fellow summer 2015 Chicago Tribune interns; the Chicago Tribune masthead editors meet to discuss front-page content this summer.

Media Center