Tags: Athletics, My Wheaton
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.
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.
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.
Tags: Conservatory, My Wheaton, Spiritual Life, The Arts
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.”
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.
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.
Tags: My Wheaton, Student Activities
I 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.
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.
Tags: My Wheaton, Student Activities
Unidad Cristiana is a place for students of Hispanic/Latino background to feel safe and at home. It is also a place for the rest of the student campus to come in and learn about our culture and our experiences as minorities, to try our diverse foods, and to learn more about what it means to be Hispanic.
I have been involved in Unidad since my freshman year, and am serving as president this year. Unidad has been a comfortable place for me because I am able to share my experiences with people of my same culture and eat Hispanic dishes that reminded me of home. My experience as part of Unidad has also been empowering: I have been able to form my own beliefs about my identity as a Hispanic woman, which has led me to share those experiences with people that are very different from me. I have been able to expand my horizons and join other campus organizations, develop close relationships with professors, and appreciate the treasures Wheaton has to offer.
The highlight of my involvement with Unidad has been seeing our members grow and blossom. Seeing my peers expand their horizons by joining student organizations within Wheaton’s Office of Christian Outreach and Student Activities Office has been a joy to me. I like seeing people realize that being of different ethnicity does not limit you from doing things other people do. We are just as important, just as capable, and just as loved by Christ as anyone else. Seeing our members go out and make a difference with their distinct voices and opinions makes me proud.
During previous years, Unidad has been growing and involving more people that are not of Hispanic/Latino background, and this year we want people to know that Unidad is not exclusive – it is open to everyone to come and learn about what it means to be Hispanic. We plan to create campus-wide events and collaborative events with other student organizations. We want to live out our organization name, Unidad, which means “unity.” We believe that once we start moving towards unity with everyone, then that will open the doors to conversations, learning, and a greater understanding of each other’s cultures.
Carol Torres '17 is a Spanish and Pre-nursing double major and is the president of Unidad Cristiana at Wheaton this year. To learn more about Unidad Cristiana, visit their website. Photo captions (from top): Unidad Cristiana members at Wheaton Bowling Alley; Students come together for a meal at the College Ave. apartments - Unidad hosts bimonthly dinners featuring various authentic Hispanic dishes; Unidad Cristiana members meet to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Tags: Global and Experiential Learning, My Wheaton
I had no clue what to expect when I officially signed up for Wheaton’s Passage program at HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College. I initially wasn’t going to do Passage because I grew up near HoneyRock. I’ve spent countless hours at HoneyRock attending church, going canoeing on a summer day, and even attended HoneyRock’s residential camp program in elementary school. I thought I was familiar with everything that went on there, and wasn’t sure if it would be worth it to go for a whole week before starting college at Wheaton. After encouragement from some friends, I decided to attend. Passage turned out to be a whole different experience than what I had originally thought it was going to be.
Words cannot describe the beauty of the place. Our first night was spent by a fire under the northern Wisconsin stars, singing hymns. The excitement I felt is still indescribable. As I glanced around the fire at my classmates, I knew I made the right choice. The same faces I saw around the fire were the ones I got to develop friendships with and do fun activities with throughout the whole week. Six of those faces were in my cabin. The deep relationships we formed through teambuilding activities and around campfires will last throughout college.
There were moments where having so many people around all the time was very overwhelming. There was constantly something going on and people to hang out with. If you walked from your cabin to the Chrouser Dining Hall you saw so many activities. From gaga ball, volleyball, frisbee, basketball, and even ceramics, people were everywhere. At times it was challenging for me to interact all the time. But, the great thing about HoneyRock is the ability to just break away and find a quiet place to put up your hammock and spend time with the Lord, free of any noise. HoneyRock provides perfect opportunities to just recharge.
My favorite part of Passage was being immersed in God’s beautiful creation. We were able to worship our God while hearing the wind blow through the nearby trees and the birds singing in the distance. We had deep, meaningful discussions in canoes in the middle of the lake with our professor. I ran around the thick pine trees while playing outdoor games with my classmates. Having the great outdoors as my “classroom” was amazing. I was able to truly see God’s beautiful canvas and the nature He made.
Passage has definitely made my transition into my first year at Wheaton easier. While walking around campus during my first day of class, I recognized multiple people I met at Passage. I still hang out with my friends from Cabin 2 and others I met along the way. The community we have developed since Passage is encouraging and fun.
I am so glad I got to participate in this awesome experience, and I highly encourage everyone to do it! HoneyRock will always have a special place in my heart.
Rachel Kane ’20 is an environmental science major who participated in the Wheaton Passage program last month. To learn more about Passage and other HoneyRock programs, visit HoneyRock’s website. Photo captions (from top): Rachel with her “Cabin 2” group discussing life and transitions on Long Lake’s waterfront at HoneyRock; Cabin 2 members during their service day project with Associate Professor of Theology Dr. Keith Johnson (center). The Cabin 2 group was able to do trail maintenance for the town of Three Lakes and help make the trail easier to ride on for local bikers and runners.