Tags: My Wheaton, Student Activities, Spiritual Life, Global and Experiential Learning
This summer, junior Christiana McGann ’18 (below, at left) and senior Malena Sweers ’17 (below, right) are at HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College, participating in Summer Leadership School (SLS). Below, they share a bit about why they chose to spend their summers in classes, training, and as paid cabin counselors in a dynamic summer camp program for young people.
Q: Why did you sign up to do HoneyRock’s Summer Leadership School (SLS)?
Malena: I signed up for SLS because I wanted to be a part of the worshipful community at HoneyRock, members constantly inviting each other to love God as we participate in His creation together. When I transferred to Wheaton the spring of my sophomore year, the group of students who welcomed and loved me most had all been involved at HoneyRock, most of them with the SLS program. Their stories and high praise of the summer at HoneyRock moved me to keep the program in mind. At the start of this past fall semester other components moved around too, and I became the first SLS recruit of the year!
Q: What is SLS all about?
Christiana: In addition to being a leadership program, SLS is a unique ministry experience that demands learning and adapting as you go. That being said, the preparations we have received, in the form of various meetings, CPR training sessions, and my personal favorite—the winter retreat at HoneyRock we took this February—have only heightened my excitement. I had my first glimpse of HoneyRock during our retreat. Throughout that freezing weekend, I tasted for myself the sweetness of “a place apart.” The weekend involved zany team-building activities and times of solitude. We reveled in the exhilaration of snow-tubing and in various star-gazing treks on the frozen lake. And of course, I will never forget the infamous polar plunge. There is nothing quite as bonding as a dip in freezing waters during the balmy month of January. As we huddled for warmth beside a crackling bonfire, I recall feeling a strange sense of kinship with my fellow “crazies.” The weekend left me eagerly anticipating the summer to come.
Malena: SLS is a program that equips college students like myself to guide campers entering 4th through 9th grade through a couple weeks of outdoor adventures, and to teach us how to be present with them to help process camp experiences. “SLS’ers” prepare with classes and training for five weeks before campers arrive. I am grateful for this time counselors have to become familiar with each other, learning how to build one another up when either joy or exhaustion prevails.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about this summer?
Christiana: The greatly anticipated SLS will be a summer full of thrilling stories and adventures to tell. I cannot wait to savor nature in a place of quiet, to hike and stargaze to my heart’s content. There’s something unique about the breathtaking view of a hike or the immensity of an array of stars. These are times in nature where I palpably feel God’s presence. I also look forward to reflective and quiet times to sit with and ponder hard questions. I want to meet God in a fresh way that renews my delight in the Lord. Finally, I cannot wait for the relationships I will find at HoneyRock. The people with whom I will interact, both campers and those I work alongside, will be sure to challenge me in ways that I can’t envision. In short, I’m at the brink of a summer of memories and crazy experiences that will create friendships like nothing else. In the words of Ellie from Up, “Adventure is out there!”
Photos (from top): Christiana (at left) and Malena on Chrouser Lawn at HoneyRock in May 2016. Photos credit Alexander Lee ’18.
Learn more and apply to HoneyRock’s summer programs and camps on their website.
Tags: My Wheaton, Campus, Conservatory, Student Activities, Spiritual Life, The Liberal Arts
“Ordinary” is not necessarily the best word to describe the past couple of years at Wheaton College. The College suffered from multiple incidents and divisive responses about such incidents from society. Seeing the media quite frequently bashing on my College that I love was definitely one of my lowest points of this year.
While mourning and being heartbroken for the College and its separations, I wondered if there was any fundamental belief that could draw an absolute and complete agreement from anyone on campus.
Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” To give hope to those who, like me, mourn for the separation of campus, I decided to produce a musical project based on the message of the unity of Christ. The mission statement of project was simple: get students from very different places of Wheaton – the Conservatory and the football team, for instance – to sing about the same thing – the grace of Christ.
With the short amount of time I had left in the school year, I had to move quickly. First, I contacted my friend Adam Lindgren ’16 and asked for an all-voice arrangement of “Amazing Grace.” I could not find a better song or better arranger to represent the message of unity through voices. Next, I reached out to multiple people and asked for their musical participation on this project. I contacted the presidents of different organizations on campus and asked for a participant from each group as a representative. Each artist, by participating on this project, supports the purpose of this project by representing his or her group. Last, to be able to advertise the final product to the student body, parents, faculty and staff members, I came up with the name of this project – Project UNITY.
During the journey, I was blown away by the number of participants and the amount of willingness of each and every musician who was on board. I was able to record 30 artists, and though my time at studio was sometimes quite exhausting, their enthusiasm and passion constantly reminded me of why I started this project in the first place. With a total of 80 hours in Shea studio with lots of encouragements and help from different friends, I reached the end of the journey last week and launched the final product of Project UNITY ("Amazing Grace," above).
I thank my advisors, helpers, and musicians who were with me this entire journey – this mix is meaningful not because of its quality, but because of its message behind it, and this message could not have been delivered if it weren’t for them. I thank Wheaton College for providing me such an awesome opportunity to witness Christ during this entire process. Finally, I thank God for bringing us unity, and giving us an ability to praise and sing for His glory.
Each singer who participated on this project represents the organization or club that he/she is involved in: Student Government, College Union, Gospel Choir, Swing Club, Resident Life, Track Team, Diakonoi, Discipleship Small Group, Men's Glee Club, Football, Concert Choir, Arena Theater, Amplify, Summer Ministry Program, Phonathon, Women's Chorale, Mu Kappa, Thundertones, Koinonia, the Wheaton Record, and many more. Adam Lindgren '16, Lucian Taylor '17, and Brian Porick '98 recorded, mixed, and mastered the project, and artists who participated on this project include Aly Vukelich '17, Matt Zuckermann '17, Andrea Artis '16, Emily Lengel '16, Josh Knowlton '17, Sola Olateju '17, Jenny Ruda '18, Peter Fenton '17, Peter Desrosier '16, Joshua Buzz Aldrin '16, Lydia Saldanha '17, Brittany Blue '16, Emma Camillone '18, Catherine Hall '18, Luke Goodman '18, Katherine Harrison '18, Kiersten Williams '18, Emma Baker '17, Elizabeth Bretscher '19, Eugenia Kang '16, Sarah Han '16, David Batdorf '16, Elliot Franklin '17, Austin Odling '18, Lucas Anholzer '18, Calvin Brown '16, Jeff Burge '17, Charles Nystrom '18, and Kirkland An '17.
Tags: Athletics, Financial Aid, My Wheaton, Student Activities, The Arts
Take a look back at the 2015-16 academic year through the lens of our "Top 5" #MyWheaton posts from August through May of this year. From student entrepreneurship to varsity athletics and financial aid, here are the top five student stories, based on total number of page views, that our readers enjoyed on the #MyWheaton blog this year:
Wheaton Shark Tank Winner: Flourish
Based on the original Shark Tank TV series, hopeful students pitched their brand ideas to investors over several rounds of Wheaton Shark Tank. Mary Elizabeth Goodell '16 (pictured above) won this February with her brand, “Flourish.” Mary Elizabeth shared about her inspiration, her Shark Tank journey, and what makes her brand unique. “The idea was to sell sustainably made dresses by employing victims of sexual violence,” she says.
2015 Student Video Competition Winners
For the 2015 video contest, students were asked to capture their Wheaton experience on video in less than three minutes and were judged on originality, creativity, production quality, and reflection of Wheaton's Mission and Community Covenant. Zack Johnston '17 won with “Our Wheaton,” Larryon Truman '16 won with “Worship is a Lifestyle,” and Matt Adams '17 won with “Feet of Wheaton.”
Wheaton Soccer: More Than a Sport
Marshall Hollingsworth '16 shared how playing soccer at Wheaton shaped who he is as a person and athlete. “I have not experienced God’s love as much as I have these past three years at Wheaton College,” Marshall said. Watch Marshall’s video to learn more about soccer at Wheaton, faith through injuries, and learning to lean on God.
Wheaton Swimming: Success Within a Community
Kirsty Nitz '16 turned down swimming scholarships to D1 schools, drawn to Wheaton’s academics and community. “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,” said Kirsty. She shares how swimming in community at Wheaton has grown and encouraged her.
Discovering Financial Aid
When circumstances jeopardized Travis Mercante '17's ability to continue at Wheaton, he discovered the Financial Aid Office. Through their patience, encouragement, and assistance, Travis found a way to remain at Wheaton. “They have been my advocates and mentors,” shares Travis. “I will never be able to thank them enough for their assistance and all the help they continue to provide.
Stay tuned for a series of summer 2016 #MyWheaton posts dedicated to showcasing Wheaton students' study abroad, internship, and curricular opportunities, and share your summer experiences on social media using the hashtag #MyWheaton.
Tags: My Wheaton, Spiritual Life, Student Activities
Just four years ago, I was a bright-eyed high school graduate headed to Wheaton College, and I had big goals: make lots of forever-friends, get all As, find my one true love, and come out a “stellar” Christian.
Some of those things did happen, but more importantly, I realized I am not defined by my accomplishments. My worth is not determined by grades, for learning goes deeper than the letters printed on my report card. And my value is not decided by the number of friends I accumulated, the guys I dated, or the prayers I cried when failure and rejection were close companions. Wheaton College has, instead, taught me that the most important thing about me is that I am loved by a merciful and gracious God.
Wheaton College is a flawed place made up of flawed people redeemed by our loving Father’s grace. For me, it has been a safe place to question, grieve, rejoice, and confront my fears and guilt. I have mourned with my brothers and sisters over systemic injustice as part of the Shalom Community, found myself humbled in the immersion of a different culture during Wheaton in England, and discovered solace while walking alongside literary giants, realizing we both seek the same truths.
It seems surreal: in just a few days I’ll say a teary-eyed farewell to professors and classmates, receive my cap, gown, and diploma, and consider myself an official alumna of Wheaton College. It has been such a privilege to learn and grow at Wheaton College. So thank you: to the professors, classmates, friends, and staff who have shown me the love of Christ stretches deep, and far, and wide. Thank you for the books I have read, the finals I have studied for, and the papers written. Thank you for the challenges, the tears, the laughter. I can’t imagine spending the past four years anywhere else.
Katherine Braden '16 is an English major with a writing concentration and a minor in community art. She has edited the #MyWheaton blog from August 2015 through May 2016 and has been continually blessed to hear and share stories of her classmates' Wheaton experiences.
Photo Captions: Katherine on the English moors during Wheaton in England; Katherine (second from left) with housemates; Katherine with Shalom House Community.
Tags: My Wheaton, Student Activities
The first day of freshman year, I hurried through my math competency exam in time to catch the final five minutes of Gospel Choir’s open rehearsal. I ended up dancing in the middle of the circle to stomping, clapping, and shouting. Once rehearsal disassembled, the choir’s director Tanya Egler called me over to the piano. After singing “How Great is Our God” together for a few minutes, she invited me to her church, and I knew this group was my new home.
Three years later, the Gospel Choir family still contains my best friends, is my primary ministry outlet, and provides me with endless opportunities and reasons to worship God. I had the privilege to serve as Co-Business Manager on Gospel Choir Cabinet last year and am finishing this year as the choir’s Vice President. Between scheduling off-campus concerts and handling thousands of dollars, being on Gospel Choir Cabinet has been a definite challenge, but it has furnished more than its share of reward.
My experiences with Gospel Choir have challenged my approach to teamwork, expanded my social networks, opened up the city of Chicago to me, and have made me feel like I’m a part of Wheaton College. Gospel Choir has also taken me to California, North Carolina, Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, John P. Kee’s church stage, the Gospel Music Workshop of America, and an astounding variety of other churches and ministries. At the end of next year, we are heading to South Korea on tour.
If you walk into the Office of Multicultural Development and look to your left, you will see these words posted above a desk: “Wheaton College Gospel Choir is a diverse group that exists to glorify God by building a loving community that ministers to others through gospel music.” That’s the heart of what we do, and our four core values – ministry, diversity, family, and music – say it all.
Erin McCord '17 is a community art major with an urban studies minor. To learn more about Wheaton's Gospel Choir, visit their website.
Photo Captions: Gospel Choir cabinet jumps for joy; Erin sings in Gospel Choir's 2016 spring concert; members of Gospel Choir pose after the spring concert.