BreakAway: Learning to Serve

Posted March 16, 2016 by Grace Gibbs '18

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Last spring break I traveled to Savannah, Georgia with a BreakAway team of eight students and two Wheaton staff leaders. We spent our week working for Habitat for Humanity, stocking shelves in a food pantry, tutoring at a local elementary school, and repairing and painting houses. On our off hours we toured the city of Savannah, walking down cobbled streets, trying local seafood, and visiting Tybee Island. 


The service was rewarding, the friendships strong. Even though it was only a week long trip, God worked both in us and through us. We were able to encourage the woman whose home we repaired and painted as well as a local Christian couple. This couple had an amazing house, and they would allow students serving in the Savannah area to stay with them. They told us about the summer their house caught on fire and burned to the ground. Though they were devastated, they praised God that neither of them were in the house at the time. This couple’s faith was evident as they encouraged us to always trust God. They helped me thank God for both the good times and the bad. 

It was a privilege to participate in BreakAway, to join in God’s work, and to see how he is already working. BreakAway reminded me I only need to bring a humble and willing heart and allow Christ to work through me.


Grace Gibbs is a sophomore and serves as Trip Logistics Coordinator on BreakAway cabinetBreakAway is a spring break ministry that allows students to serve in teams in different parts of the country for a week. To learn more about BreakAway, visit their website.

Photo Captions: Grace (right) paints a house on BreakAway with her fellow team members; the Savannah, Georgia 2015 BreakAway team; BreakAway cabinet 2016. 

My HNGR Experience in Nicaragua

Posted March 11, 2016 by Kelly Wilson '16

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Wheaton's Human Needs and Global Resources program (HNGR) was in large part the deciding factor for why I came to Wheaton. I have wanted to do HNGR since I first heard about it as a junior in high school and met with former director Dr. Paul Robinson to learn more about the program. Last year, after much preparation and growth, I departed for my HNGR internship in Jinotepe, Carazo, Nicaragua to work with an incredible organization called Fundación San Lucas Nicaragua, which is a part of the Luke Society, a network of integral health-based Christian ministries directed and operated by local people. San Lucas serves rural communities in the dry-tropical, coastal region of Carazo to promote health and well-being by working in food security, water & sanitation, and risk prevention and management with a specific focus on women and children. 

As an environmental science major with a passion for agriculture and soils, I worked with the food security team, shadowing and being apprenticed by two caring and intelligent agronomists as they facilitated agricultural workshops with small-holder farmers, worked to plant, weed, and water the crops in San Lucas’s Agriculture and Appropriate Technologies Experimental Center, and responded to a crippling climate change induced drought caused by El Niño. This drought and the way that my host organization and the farmers in the communities where we worked responded to it characterized life in Nicaragua for me more than anything else. Never before have I spent so much time thinking about, asking about, and praying for rain. Rain means life for subsistence farmers who have no other means of income or sustenance but for the basic grains they are able to cultivate on their small plots of land. When the rain fails to fall, everything is lost: seed, food, water. Drought devastates and the most vulnerable suffer. I learned though, that drought does not have the last word – life does. When all else failed, faith sustained. Together with the farmers and coworkers I befriended, I learned how to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not be in want” with trust while lacking the basic necessities for life.

Kelly Wilson '16 is a senior studying environmental studies. Learn more about Wheaton's HNGR program on their website

Photo caption: Kelly working in the field with Fundación San Lucas Nicaragua during her HNGR internship in Nicaragua in 2015.

Wheaton Swimming: Success Within Community

Posted March 3, 2016 by Kirsty Nitz '16

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My Wheaton journey began when my grandmother and grandfather first arrived at Wheaton College in 1946. Over the next fifty years, many of my family members also attended, and although I was offered several Division 1 swimming scholarships, I decided to follow in their footsteps. Though swimming had been an important part of my life for ten years, I knew it would be over once I graduated, however my friendships and academic experience would influence the rest of my life. Discovering that Wheaton had a successful swim team sealed the deal, and I began my undergraduate and Wheaton swimming career in 2012.


Even during my first semester here, God affirmed my decision to come to Wheaton repeatedly by providing wonderful friends who encouraged and motivated me athletically, academically, and in my walk with the Lord. In the past four years, this has continued to be true. Through the highs and lows of swimming and college life, my teammates and I have continually supported each other, and I cannot imagine my college experience without them. In my experience, the swim team is the most amazing community on campus. I will treasure the memories of hilarious pranks, countless team functions, and exhilarating success at swim meets.   

Relays are always my favorite events because swimming is such a team sport. None of us would be able to perform to our full potential without our teammates encouraging us daily at practice. In a relay, we get to celebrate our successes with the people who challenged us daily for the past six months, and the excitement is so much greater because we did it together.

Kirsty Nitz '16 is a senior Applied Health Science major who has participated in varsity swimming for four years at Wheaton College. Wheaton has an award winning men and women's swim team. To view the roster or see their schedule, visit their website

Photo Captions: The team celebrates after a conference win; Kirsty (right) and a friend pose underwater for a photo; the swim team women don costumes and join the freshman orientation parade.

Wheaton Shark Tank Winner: Flourish

Posted February 24, 2016 by Mary Elizabeth Goodell '16

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The first time I realized I wanted to start a business was last year. I was sitting in my microfinance class as my professor explained that even if a woman was forced into prostitution through human trafficking, she could still be stuck with a criminal record and have difficulty finding work outside of the sex industry.

The injustice of it was hard for me to stomach. I had to do something for those women.

I've dreamed of designing dresses that are made sustainably for years, especially as I become more aware of the horrific labor practices used in the fashion industry. When I heard about the need for jobs for survivors of the sex industry, I saw how my love for clothes and heart for disenfranchised women could actually fit together beautifully.

Over the next year, "Flourish" took shape. The idea was to sell sustainably made dresses by employing victims of sexual violence. I read all I could on the issue but wasn’t sure what to do next until Anna Morris, the Director of Student Alumni Board, suggested I participate in Wheaton's Shark Tank last fall. I figured it was time to put all of my research to use and really develop my dream. By participating in Shark Tank, Flourish came together through a series of events, people, and “lightbulb moments” that the Lord wove together over the years.


Winning Shark Tank was huge for me.  To have other people get behind this dream has been really humbling and encouraging. It’s one thing to have a crazy idea to combine fashion with social justice and another to have someone believe that you can do it and offer you resources to help make it a reality.

I don’t know what comes next, but I sincerely believe the Lord will continue to connect me with the right people and put me in the right places to grow this vision. I’m eager to see how He will provide for Flourish in the coming months.


Presented by the Student Alumni Board and Opus, Shark Tank is an entrepreneurial competition among Wheaton College students modeled after the eponymous television show. Mary Elizabeth Goodell '16 was announced the winner on February 18th. 


Photo Captions: Mary Elizabeth after winning Wheaton Shark Tank; Mary Elizabeth presenting her company Flourish at Shark Tank last Thursday; Mary Elizabeth with friends at the Chicago Art Institute.


Why I Chose Wheaton Grad School

Posted February 17, 2016 by Bornell Nicholson '15, M.A. '17

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I attended Wheaton College as an undergraduate, majoring in psychology. During my junior year, I began seeking out higher education, so I spoke to the director of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Wheaton College, Dr. David Van Dyke, about whether Wheaton College Graduate School would fit well with my skill set and interests.

After many conversations, I came to the conclusion that Wheaton College Graduate School would be the best institution for me to pursue my professional training. The main reason I chose Wheaton over a secular university was because of its distinctly Christian perspective on psychology. I had no doubt I could receive a wonderful education and terrific training at a secular graduate school, however, my Christian faith is so central to who I am that to leave it out of my professional life would be utter nonsense.


As a therapist in training, I seek to bring my whole self into the room with my clients. At a secular university, I might not have had the space or opportunity to learn how to integrate my Christian identity with my profession. Moreover, my desire for being Christ’s ambassador and serving the underserved align perfectly with Wheaton’s Marriage and Family Therapy Mission Statement: “To form Marriage and Family therapists who value interpersonal justice as well as the diversity of clients and client systems, who work toward the goal of healthy and whole relationships, and who give specific attention to those on the margin of society and the underserved.”

At Wheaton, I have been challenged by academic rigor as well as strengthened in my faith. Therefore, I can honestly say I will be fully prepared to serve For Christ and His Kingdom in my profession as a marriage and family therapist. 


Bornell Nicholson '15 graduated from Wheaton last spring and is a first year master's student at Wheaton College Graduate School. To learn more about Wheaton College Graduate School and the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Wheaton, visit their websites. 

Photo Captions: Bornell celebrates his undergrad graduation last spring; Bornell with fellow Marriage and Family Therapy students; Bornell with fellow Graduate School students. 

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