Before coming to Wheaton, I had heard from teachers, parents, and mentors the age old advice that hard work and determination are the keys to success. Naturally, when I came to Wheaton, I chose my classes, made some friends, and settled in to wait for the waves of inspiration and determination to hit me. They never came. Instead, I rapidly learned that the only real way to grow intellectually, physically, spiritually, or emotionally as a person is to form habits. Inspiration can be a tremendous asset when it does come, but sometimes the only way to learn and grow is by getting down to work.
As a media communication major, my field of work and study has been extremely broad. I came to Wheaton with a highly undeveloped knowledge of film, photography, music production, and graphic design. My major allowed me to cover a lot of ground regarding my field and to keep my focus broad. For the first couple years at Wheaton, this proved invaluable as I sought to discover what I actually hoped to do with my life. Around my junior year, having taken numerous communication classes both in media and other focuses, I began to get a more clear picture of my desire to produce media.
One of the things I have loved the most about Wheaton is the way each and every experience plays into all the others. For example, while I never even considered being a philosophy major, my philosophy classes helped me shape the way I think about other people and about my own work. It helped me develop the why behind what I do instead of just an ability to do it. Being in the Men’s Glee Club has been pivotal in my understanding of brotherhood, integrity, and the importance of worship. These sort of general education courses, extracurriculars, and challenging experiences helped me realize that while certain things can certainly be learned in a classroom, the formation of an effective person comes through living outside of the box on a day to day basis. Having now graduated and moved on to the rest of my life, I can look back on Wheaton and without a shadow of a doubt praise the nurturing community and safe space as the perfect place to experiment, challenge oneself, and try new things. For me, I found a lot of those things in Adams Hall—the art building.
My junior year, after I came to realize that media production brought me more joy than anything else, I decided to add a Studio Art Minor to round out my knowledge and experience in the digital realm. My focuses in my art minor were graphic design and photography. I took two classes of each, and while I certainly learned many of the things I was expecting to in computer graphics and digital photography, I also learned things I had never anticipated—like old school darkroom printing photography, and how to hand-write different typesets with an authentic quill pen and ink. Going into my senior year, I began to take the skills I learned and apply them in various new real-world settings. The Lord blessed me with numerous jobs and opportunities for growth, among which were video production internships, a blogging job for a magazine, and my role on the Men’s Glee Club cabinet as the publicity manager creating image content for the club both in print and online. Working in my field and with other people challenged me in a completely new way, and I began to see just how well Wheaton prepared me not only to be a whole and effective person with knowledge of my work, but a hardworking and humble Christ-follower as well.
As it is with most things, much of what my parents, teachers, and mentors said to me growing up did not fully make sense to me until after I had discovered it for myself. However, I can confidently say that Wheaton has been the most influential and best place for me to blaze my own trail in learning, challenging myself, and growing. My label as a communication- media studies major—or even as a studio art minor—has not for a moment limited me to a certain area of study. Wheaton has an incredible array of resources, professors, and opportunities, and if you are willing to look for them, there’s virtually no limit to the number of things you can learn. My journey through Wheaton was perhaps one of my own making, and while unconventional, I am eternally grateful for the challenge, growth, and experience I gained throughout my four years.
The best way to experience the invaluable education available at Wheaton is by being bold enough to ask hard questions and step beyond your comfort zone. Wheaton’s warm community and God-centered mission make it an excellent place to do just that, and if I were to sum up much of what I’ve learned at Wheaton, I would quote the Vicar of Baghdad Canon Andrew White, who, whenever he came to speak on campus, would always end his time by saying “Don’t take care, take risks.”
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