During our last All School Communion, Chaplain Blackmon asked the student body to take out our phones and tweet our prayer for Wheaton College. Without hesitation, I typed with my millennial-paced thumbs, “that our campus would take itself less seriously.” This prayer for Wheaton has also motivated my involvement in College Union during my junior and senior years at Wheaton.
College Union is an organization composed of 12 students who coordinate some of Wheaton’s most beloved events: President’s Ball, Talent Show, Roller Disco, Air Jam, Class Films, and dozens more. But College Union is about so much more than simply drawing large crowds of people. We believe that behind the strange costumes, loud music, and goofy events lie our mission and purpose—because Wheaton students, myself included, have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously.
On College Union, we believe that our events matter to the vitality of our campus because they remind our accomplishment and excellence-saturated culture that there is more to us as people than what we do, or what we accomplish. A good GPA, which I may or may not possess, or a robust résumé, of which I may or may not boast, are fine, but they can never take the place of laughter, goofiness, or letting loose that is necessary for human flourishing. As the song goes, “a little party never killed nobody.”
This mission, to offer events that energize our student body, keeps the College Union team motivated to continue to provide some of the staple events that our campus community looks forward to every year. But this doesn’t exhaust College Union’s mission: this year’s team is always looking for new and fresh ways to invigorate our campus. Already this year we have introduced a mechanical bull at our annual square dance and used the French House as a massive canvas for community art pieces. Who knows what this year’s College Union team will dream up next? And hopefully, event by event, our campus will be encouraged to play, goof around, and ultimately, take ourselves less seriously.
Tyler Hansen '16, a Biblical and Theological studies major, is the president of CU this year. Visit their websites for more information about College Union and Student Activities Office (SAO) events.
Photo Credits: College Union 2014-15; Taylor Schuster '16 tries his hand at the square dance's mechanical bull this fall; students explore the spray-painted walls of the French House during College Union's SASS event.
It was October 1, 2014. After a seemingly endless copy editing session with the staff of Huntington University’s campus newspaper, I clicked into my email box to filter through my messages. It was there that I found my acceptance letter from the Wheaton College Graduate School.
“Dear Natasha, I am pleased to inform you that you are being offered admission to the Masters of Arts program in Intercultural Studies and TESOL …”
I rubbed my eyes.
I couldn’t believe what I saw.
Wheaton is my dream school. Back in 2007, I went to Franklin Graham’s four-day festival at Hong Kong Stadium in Hong Kong. At the time, I didn’t know who Franklin or Billy Graham were, and I wasn’t aware of their connections to Wheaton. Amazed by how jam-packed the auditorium was, I saw that 423,335 people from 800 different churches attended the event. After my experience at the festival, I found out my longtime family friend Jana Hoobler M.A. ’06, who has been teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) for over twenty years in Zhuhai city and Macau in China, was a Wheaton graduate. That’s how I heard of Wheaton for the very first time.
Coming from a journalism background at a small private Christian university in Indiana, I never once thought about coming to Wheaton until my junior year, when one of my professors presented the top three TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) programs in the nation, which included Wheaton. Later on, I took my TESOL class about listening and speaking with professor Virginia Clough Yang M.A. ’11, who also went through the TESOL program at Wheaton. Next thing I knew, I made my decision to apply.
I love Wheaton not only because it offers one of the best TESOL programs in the nation, but I also love the fact that we get to celebrate cultural diversity. I get to interact with people from all over the world—whether they are from Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Brazil, or Mongolia. They have shown me a world of excitement, mystery, and uniqueness.
I also appreciate how TESOL applies educational theories into everyday life. By listening to Dr. Alan Seaman and his experiences in Southeast Asia, Dr. Cheri Pierson and her Ph.D. studies in Europe, and Dr. Pam Barger’s upbringing in Chicagoland, what I am learning is more than just how to teach—I also learn what to teach, whether it is using technology or books, social media or print media.
I love Wheaton not only because I can further my education, but also because I get to grow in Christ. I am starting to see and understand that we are all parts of God’s ministry. God has planned everything one step ahead for me. He knows Wheaton is the right place for me to equip myself physically and spiritually. Seeing all the internship opportunities ahead of me with organizations like World Relief, ELIC, Wycliffe, Pui Tak Center, and other resources in the greater Chicago area, I am excited to explore a career that can blend TESOL and journalism together.
Natasha Zeng M.A. ’16 is a student from Zhuhai, China, studying intercultural studies and TESOL at Wheaton College Graduate School. Photo captions (from top): A group from the English Language Institute of China (ELIC) came to study at Wheaton College Graduate School during summer 2015; Every year, Wheaton’s TESOL department offers a field trip to Little India, Chicago. In fall 2015, the group went to South Asian Friendship center and went for Pakistani food; Wheaton’s TESOL department provides a variety of internship opportunities based in Chicago.
Wheaton College’s Art Department hosts an annual exhibition, 12x12, showcasing student art no larger than twelve inches in any dimension. This year, I submitted a portrait of Charlotte Hallstrom ’16 originally taken for Digital Photography with Professor Greg Halvorsen Schreck during the fall of 2013.
In addition to displaying a striking portrait, I wanted to depart from the traditional display medium of a print on matte or glossy paper. Instead, I decided to have the portrait printed on a 12-inch metal sheet, which resulted in a number of unique visual nuances. When the print is viewed in person, lighter areas of the photo—Charlotte’s hands and face—are transparent, revealing the underlying grain of the metal, while darker areas take on a reflective quality that almost puts you in the photo when seeing it head-on.
While the theme of this year’s 12x12 competition is “Work: Curse or Calling,” I don’t seek to influence the viewer toward a particular vein of thought regarding vocation. Charlotte’s positive yet not-wholly-defined expression allows the viewer to project emotion onto the piece and leaves room for speculation about its purpose.
Though Wheaton’s community was the strongest draw for me as a prospective student, I have so enjoyed the opportunity to study art alongside my business/economics major. Wheaton’s art professors certainly exhibit some of the stereotypical quirkiness you would expect from a university art professor, which creates a flexible and laid-back classroom environment. This unique environment fosters openness and a level of discussion not typically found in other courses at Wheaton. All in all, from performing drawing stretches during breaks with Professor Leah Samuelson to critiquing work over homemade scones in graphic design with Professor Jeremy Botts, art classes at Wheaton will regularly challenge, shock, and remind you to take yourself just a little bit less seriously.
Philip Christiansen ’16 is a senior studying business/economics with a minor in art. Photo Caption: Christiansen's 12x12 entry of Charlotte Hallstrom '16.
I can remember my angst toward writing a college application essay. It felt like I was being asked to sum up the whole of my existence in 500 words. Colleges wanted to know: what makes me stand out from other applicants?
That’s a pretty scary question. So I decided to answer an easier, more subjective question: what excites you? Here are three tips on how to make that question work:
1) Brainstorm things that motivate you to go an extra mile.
My father once told me that life is a lot easier if you spend it doing something you like. I enjoyed Biology a lot in high school, so I shadowed doctors, observed surgeries, and volunteered in hospitals. I thought being a doctor and solving biological issues would be fun for me, so I pursued science. Anything that brings you joy is worth doing.
2) Leave room for imagination.
The essay is your time to shine. The danger is to write an essay about what you want to do vocationally. By writing an essay about an end goal (i.e. a job), you put limitations on yourself. Instead, write about what excites you. If you write an essay about what excites you, it leaves room for imagination. If you like something, declare that you like it. Much of higher education is driven by the motivation to get a good job, but at Wheaton College there is a bigger focus on becoming a life-long-learner. The emphasis is more on the “Life of The Mind.” Francis Collins, the brilliant scientist, Christian, and head of the famed Human Genome Project, had no idea what he wanted to “do” in life. However, he did know he enjoyed chemistry. So, he studied chemistry.
3) Explore not who you are, but who you want to become.
When I wrote my college essays, I explored not who I was, but what I wanted to become. To do well in college you need to enjoy what you are doing or else you will get burnt out. Write about something you believe in, not something that will resemble another student’s essay. Be distinctive by being honest. Be authentic rather than striving to be unique.
Jeff Camp ’18 is a sophomore from St. Louis majoring in chemistry. In his free time, he enjoys photography and coffee brewing. To apply to Wheaton College or to refer a student, visit the admissions website.
Marshall Hollingsworth ’16 was reluctant to go to Wheaton—the dream was to attend a D1 school and play soccer professionally. He changed his mind after his visit to Wheaton in the fall of his senior year, though.
“I realized there are more important things in life than just soccer,” Marshall says.
His freshman year, things seemed to be going well: the team was winning and Marshall got a lot of playing time. However, an injury to his knee right before post-season challenged his identity.
“I spent a lot of time in prayer, really talking to God about it and just trying to figure out what I was going to do if I couldn’t play soccer…that’s when I learned to lean on God,” Marshall says.
According to Marshall, the most amazing thing about being a Wheaton College student is the people who are willing to pour into the lives of the students and help them grow both emotionally and spiritually.
“I have not experienced God’s love as much as I have these past three years at Wheaton College,” Marshall shares.
Watch the video above to see Marshall share more about how playing soccer at Wheaton has shaped who he is as a person and athlete.
Marshall Hollingsworth ’16 is a senior studying business and economics. Learn more about Wheaton soccer on the Wheaton Thunder website, Twitter @Wheaton_Thunder, and Instagram @Wheaton_Thunder. Video filmed, produced, and edited by Kevin Schmalandt.