If you had told me three years ago that I would currently be finishing up my senior year at Wheaton College, I would have never believed you. Thankfully, God had much bigger plans in store for me. This is the story of my Wheaton experience as a transfer student and how I saw the institution live out seven values that ultimately influenced me to stay.
To begin, let’s start with some context on how I got to Wheaton in the first place:
I began college on a baseball scholarship in my home state of California, but a career-ending injury completely changed my plans for college. My sophomore year was filled with new experiences. That is, God showed me the value in challenging myself to grow in areas outside of athletics. As many second year students do, I began looking for opportunities to study abroad and stumbled upon Wheaton. The Consortium Visitor Program enabled me to swap schools for a semester, but I never had any intentions of staying. Before I began classes at Wheaton in the fall, I applied and was accepted to work as a counselor at HoneyRock, Wheaton’s “Outdoor Center for Leadership and Development” in Wisconsin. I love the outdoors and hoped to make some friends before beginning my semester on campus. Little did I know, that summer in the SLS (Summer Leadership School) program at HoneyRock would change my life, and was just the beginning of my journey as a transfer.
The following are the seven core values of HoneyRock, which align with the mission of Wheaton College. Together, they provide a glimpse of how I fell in love with Wheaton and why I am thriving in this community.
- Others-oriented Service:
Whether I am volunteering to do community work projects through the Office of Christian Outreach, sending or receiving encouraging notes through the college post office, or being a Resident Assistant, Wheaton cultivates a mindset within me to serve. Specifically, working for Residence Life has impacted the ways that I see opportunities to serve my residents each day. Residence Life emphasizes how community responsibility teaches students to be more mindful about how their words and actions impact those they live around, thus, I have had an increasing desire to be more service-oriented.
- Purposeful Challenge
Within my first three weeks of working at HoneyRock I was shaking my head wondering why I had just voluntarily signed up to participate in a 54-mile overnight canoe race nicknamed the “Hodag Challenge”. After capsizing our canoe at 3 a.m. and finishing in just under twelve hours, my attitude changed. I found myself joyfully wanting to persevere and challenge myself more with everything I do. This is true especially at Wheaton, where classes, friends, and professors teach me more about the Christ-like character that develops from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
- Experiences in Creation
A lot of people ask me why a beachfront California kid would want to come to the landlocked Midwest, but Wheaton has taught me to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation wherever I go. I have taken those experiences into the Chicagoland area and seen so much beauty in Lake Michigan, the fall colors, and even the snow that covers the campus in the winter. HoneyRock especially helped me get away from our technology-obsessed society, get unplugged, and lean into the verse, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
- Rhythms of Rest and Reflection
Wheaton continues to be a challenging place for me academically, socially, and spiritually, but it has also been a place to learn about the importance of rest. Working as a counselor at HoneyRock propelled me into new habits of rest that I had never fully established before. These new, peaceful habits include reading my Bible daily and journaling. Since HoneyRock, Wheaton has taught me more about rest through self-care and taking the time to relax and reflect. I am thankful for these rhythms that remind me to enjoy the moment and take a break when my schedule feels overwhelming.
- Authentic Community
Ever since I stepped foot onto Wheaton’s campus I have noticed how much students want to be here. While there is a great diversity of opinions and personalities, Wheaton students are proud of their school and desire to make it more hospitable. This authentic community even extends to Wheaton alumni I meet through events by the Student Alumni Board or talk to at Phonathon. Alumni clearly work hard to stay connected with students, give back financially, and offer vocational support for seniors who are getting ready to graduate. Although transferring can be challenging, the Wheaton community welcomed me and made me proud to be part of such an incredible institution.
- Truth-infused Programming
Wheaton College, and its liberal arts education, helps me merge different fields of study with my faith. This faith-integration into all areas of my life takes my college education to the next level. Chapel also adds a variety of topics and speakers that enhance my way of viewing global issues through a Christian lens. One communication class in particular enabled me to connect mass media technologies and their positive/negative impacts on practicing spiritual disciplines. Whether it is a class, lecture, or other program on campus or at HoneyRock, Wheaton seeks to integrate teachable moments that lead students to deepen their understanding about God.
- Enthusiastic Engagement
One of my favorite moments at the beginning of every school year is the first All School Communion held in Edman Chapel. Everyone is finally reunited after the summer. Students worship, tell stories, and laugh in order to celebrate the upcoming school year. The high energy and enthusiasm of All School Communion and other events (i.e. the annual Talent Show, Class Films, Air Jam, etc.) make Wheaton a lively place to be. This specific core value fosters a side of me that wants to do everything with the joy of the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10).
I have found that each one of these values is essential to how both Wheaton and HoneyRock OPERATE to create a more holistic student body. Overall, although transferring has had its struggles, I enjoy being a Wheaton student and am so grateful that God led me down this road.
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