Category Archives: Features

Envisioning the future

How the OMD creates space for learning and empowerment


By Piper Curda

To many students at Wheaton, the Office of Multicultural Development has always been known by its snappy acronym (OMD) and its home in Lower Beamer across from the Office of Christian Outreach (OCO) and next door to the Student Activities Office (SAO). However, the OMD has only occupied in its current space since 2013 and the office itself was not always known as the OMD. Since its beginnings in the 1970s, the OMD went through multiple name changes such as Office of Minority Affairs, Office of Minority Student Development and Office of Multicultural Student Development before finally landing on the Office of Multicultural Development.

espite this mild external identity crisis, the OMD has always upheld its main goal of “being a home for students of color, a resource for ethnic minority students who want to learn more about Christ-centered diversity and an encouragement to the college to cultivate Christian unity that values and celebrates ethnic and cultural diversity.”

The OMD is also home to multiple student-led organizations such as Koinonia, the William Osborne Society, Unidad Christiana, Shalom Community and more that are aimed toward unifying and celebrating people of varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Senior Gabidel Miranda, the President of Unidad Christiana (the Latinx student group on campus), agreed, saying, “It’s a place where I feel the most welcome on campus. Since freshman year, it’s a place where I’ve been going for respite.” The OMD,  is a space that welcomes questions and conversations about topics otherwise difficult to discuss in Wheaton’s larger community.

“It’s always been a place where it gets the gears turning,” Miranda told the Record. “In topics of race, I’ve had a lot of feelings,” she continued, “and having these conversations in the OMD has been a new language to help [me] put a name to feelings or things that I’ve been seeing.” Senior Ziyu Gu, the current President of Koinonia (the Asian/Asian American student group on campus), also noted the reality of apathy that many people in the OMD face: “I think it’s hard for any organization … to make people who don’t care, care.” While this challenge may exist, it’s what the OMD equips students to address.

A common misconception Wheaton students may have is that the OMD is exclusively a space for students of color. However, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, the location change to Lower Beamer was motivated in part by a desire to become more accessible to all students who may wander in for a cup of coffee or good conversations. “It’s definitely a friendly space for the Caucasian students here to explore diversity and racial and ethnic relations and issues,” Gu said. The OMD holds many events and special activities, often hosted by a student groups that are open to anyone who wants to join. Events include movie nights, Q&A panels and special lectures. No matter the occasion, the OMD seeks not only to be welcoming to all but also to empower students.

“For a lot of students [the OMD] is not only a place of belonging but also a platform for empowerment,” Gu said. Gu has been a part of Koinonia since her freshman year and admits she found it confusing at first. As an international student from China, Gu found there was a dichotomy between international Asians and Asian Americans and the types of struggles they each faced. “Being in Koinonia was really helpful to understand a lot of racial relations … it’s that living together and learning and sharing differences and similarities that really make OMD special.” Miranda feels this empowerment has been exemplified by an increased interest in leadership positions from those who are part of the OMD. “In the past year or two, I’ve seen a lot of … people from the OMD branching out and applying to positions outside the OMD,” Miranda reflected. Gu concurred, describing the OMD as “a place where minority students feel safe and comfortable to go into, but not necessarily always stay.”

This balance between push and pull is precisely what the late Director of the OMD, Rodney Sisco, wanted to achieve through his work there. “Part of being the body of Christ is that we understand what grace is,” Sisco once said. “We’re preparing young men and women to know how to address that outside of Wheaton — how to be people who are able to engage with difference and conflict [in a manner] that still says we’re doing it as men and women of God.”

Remembering our past

Wheaton’s mixed legacy on issues of race


By Santoro Guiggio

Wheaton’s first president, Jonathan Blanchard was a dedicated abolitionist, a radical who called for racial justice. In a copy of “The Western Citizen and the Free Press” from July 8, 1851, he was listed as the chairman of a Christian anti-slavery conference that sought to “[consider] the duty of the churches in respect to slavery and other palpable sins.” For Blanchard, his advocacy for abolition expanded into the use of Blanchard Hall as a stop on the Underground Railroad. In another copy of the same paper from Oct. 7, 1851, Blanchard is reported giving a speech denouncing slavery before the American Missionary Association.

Associate Professor of History Karen Johnson, who specializes in the history of race and religion in 20th century America, complicates this narrative in her article, “Remembering Our Racial Past: Using Institutional Lament to Shape Affections.” Johnson writes about how Blanchard harbored some harmful opinions about what to do with the Native Americans who occupied land that the United States wanted to control. He felt that the Native American people needed to be removed from the land, even as he expressed regret about the way American military forces treated them. Blanchard also felt that the Native Americans needed to be “civilized” which “many Native Americans today view … as promoting cultural genocide,” according to Johnson.

Discrimination against Native Americans is a part of the story Wheaton College’s narrative cannot be told without. As Johnson writes in her article, “the college still sits on Native American land, literally grounded in native soil that American Indians continue to see as their homeland.”

As time went on, Wheaton’s record on race only grew more complicated. David Malone, the Dean of College and Seminary Library at Calvin College, addresses such issues in his article, “The Wheaton Context.” “The emergence of fundamentalism,” he writes, “influenced transitions in race relations and skewed the college’s founding vision … leaving social efforts to more liberal Christians.” During Charles Blanchard’s time as Wheaton College’s second president, there was growing discrimination against people of color on campus, including the story of Nellie Bryant, a student in the 1910s who was expelled for being African American.

Still, students of color continued to enroll at Wheaton. During an independent study in 2011, former Wheaton student Leah Fulton wrote “Historical Glimpses of Color.” Fulton’s text records several students of East Asian descent attending the college in the 1920s and 1930s. Another notable student of color at the college in the 1920s was Charles Satchell Morris. However, as Assistant Archivist Keith Call mentions in his Buswell Library Special Collections blog post Quite an Aristocratic Negro,” Morris was no fan of Wheaton College. When asked to donate to the college to help complete Blanchard Hall, he recounted how Charles Blanchard had allowed him to be unfairly expelled from the college dining hall and for that reason he would not contribute even “10 cents to complete Blanchard Hall.”

For African Americans in particular, Wheaton was not the most welcoming community in the 1930s and 1940s. According to Fulton’s text, in the 1940s Herbert Oliver was the first African American student to graduate from Wheaton since the 1920s. On top of this, several letters between President James Oliver Buswell and Rev. Wyeth Willard in 1939 describe conflict at the college over whether or not to admit an African American woman named Rachel Boone. As Malone notes in his text, there were concerns on the part of college authorities that the school could not serve people of her race. He cites the school’s Executive Council as saying that “social problems” would arise from her being accepted by the college.

During the Raymond Edman and Hudson Armerding administrations, changes occurred that began moving the college towards a path of rectifying racial disparities. Malone mentions that President Edman made an unsuccessful attempt to support the National Scholarship Service and Fund for Negros. He also established a committee on race relations that revealed the various forms of discrimination against minority students that were a part of life at Wheaton College.

As Fulton notes in her booklet, during the tenure of Armerding, several initiatives were launched in an effort to encourage minority students to attend Wheaton College. In 1968, a Compensatory Education Program was created to increase educational opportunities for minorities. A copy of the Wheaton Record from May 24, 1968 states that the program involved admitting 12 students (most of whom were black) from low-income areas. The article noted that “the program would waive certain admissions requirements and provide remedial and financial aid where needed.”

Unfortunately, the program did not work out as well as its creators had hoped. Fulton mentioned an article that described the program by saying “the idea was good but the methodology was wrong” and that some students even suffered “emotional and psychological wounds” from it. In 1970, the Educational Opportunity Program was established to improve minority enrollment at Wheaton. A decade later, towards the end of Armerding’s tenure, the Director of Minority Student Development position was established to help improve the experiences of minorities on campus.

After the end of Armerding’s time serving as president in the early 1980s, the college administration and the student body made new efforts to diversify Wheaton College, to celebrate minority cultures and pursue racial reconciliation. To emphasize the importance of diversity, President Richard Chase wrote an article titled “Diversity and Unity,” published in the college bulletin’s newsletter “InForm” during his second year at the college. This article does not specifically mention race, but it does call for members of the college to remember the unity of all believers in the body of Christ, even in the face of the diversity of the individual members of that body. It also warns of the dangers of simplistic generalizations about and judgments of others. Malone notes in his article that during President Duane Litfin’s tenure the college started the African-American Church Lecture Series and even more recently created the Church and Nieves scholarship for Latinx and African American students. Student groups like Gospel Choir (1986), the William Osborne Society (1987) and the Solidarity Cabinet (2006) were also formed during this pivotal time.

Despite these moves toward increasing the diversity of the student body and toward offering greater acknowledgment of and respect for minority students and their cultures, contradictions still characterize Wheaton’s relationship with race. Research from 1997, cited in Malone’s article, found that the white majority on campus reacted with indifference toward minority groups even if they were not aggressively prejudiced against them. The study claimed that majority students believed “that [racism] is not a problem on a ‘friendly campus’ like Wheaton’s. Such a belief … may be rooted in students’ limited definition of racism as the most overt types of prejudice.” As members of the college’s administration and student body tried to combat racism at Wheaton, this indifference by the white majority represents one of the latest of the contradictions in Wheaton’s history of race relations, one that endures to this day.

Since 1997, however, student diversity has increased 11.4 percent. As of 2016, 21.6 percent of Wheaton students were people of color. This was helped by efforts such as the From the Heart for the Kingdom campaign, which ran from 2013 to 2018.

Recent changes have included revisions to the covenant to include relevant language about diversity and community, expansion of the Office of Multicultural Development, engaging in external reviews of campus diversity, creating student leadership training for students of color and intentionally focusing on hiring a more diverse and ethnically varied staff. The Chaplain’s Office also made intentional choices to invite more speakers of color to campus for chapel and to hold events to further the discussion of racial and ethnic relations on campus.

Another large step for Wheaton was the creation of the Chief Intercultural Engagement Officer in the Senior Administrative Cabinet (SAC), which was filled by Sheila Caldwell. Caldwell, who received a doctorate in education from the University of Georgia in addition to completing the Harvard Kennedy School Strategies for Building and Leading Diverse Organizations Executive Education program, is the first woman of color to serve on the SAC. She has a vision “to deepen ethnic diversity, promote racial reconciliation, and advance cultural understanding,” according to the Wheaton Magazine.

Though Blanchard Hall’s official designation as a stop on the Underground railroad in 2012 by President Obama was significant, it was only one event in a long and complicated history of race relations at Wheaton that is still being written today.

A Taste of Home: Celebrating Lunar New Year at Wheaton


By Maddie Cash and Boyd Allsbrook

“It is incredibly powerful for the Chinese students of Wheaton to feel remembered and to remember,” Rose Wang, a Mandarin professor at Wheaton, told the Record. On Feb. 15, students from countries such as China and Korea remembered and celebrated their culture at the Spring Festival, colloquially called the Chinese New Year.

During the festival, hosted by the Chinese Language and Culture Club, the exchanging of blessings and the accompanying celebrations expressed the longing for peace in the new year. Chinese New Year is by far the most popular tradition in China and Korea. The 15-day festival begins on the first day of the first new moon on the lunar calendar. This year makes the ninth year that Wheaton College’s student body has come together to celebrate and share in Chinese culture.

Originally organized and hosted by Koinonia as the Lunar New Year Festival, the event has gradually come under the leadership of the CLACC. There is always an emphasis on traditional cuisine, musical and cultural performances, and crafts and games. This year the crowd of more than 100 students, professors and community members gathered to watch martial arts exhibitions, listen to Chinese songs and eat traditional foods like Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) and scallion pancakes. The event reminds Chinese students of their homes and culture while introducing the beauty and excitement of Spring Festival to Wheaties who might never be exposed to it otherwise. Freshman Ethan Iha, an attendee, remarked that although he didn’t know what the lyrics meant, “The songs were so beautiful, and I got chills.” Wang described the festival as “a time for people to come home, be with family and just celebrate.”

One performer, freshman Lucy Yang, told the Record about the sense of community that Wheaton’s Lunar New Year’s celebration gives Chinese students. “There aren’t that many Chinese students represented on campus, and it feels good to have a club like [CLACC], to remember us,” she said. “I wish that more people were aware of Chinese festivals and culture. We’re a pretty diverse group. I hope it’s even bigger next year.”

Wang agreed. “The sharing of cultures that happens is so wonderful,” she told the Record. “They are far from home, and the Spring Festival is the biggest cultural holiday that the Chinese have.” Another student, sophomore Chloe Liu, told the Record that the festival “felt like home” which is what CLACC hoped to give students thousands of miles from their homes.

“The celebration is important because it brings Chinese culture to the forefront, if only for a night, and shows love to those students, and makes them feel a sense of home away from home.” Wang explained. “It also shows love by sharing this really fun piece of culture to all those at Wheaton. Good food, good music, good fellowship.”

A conversation about women, 160 years in the making


By Sarah Holcomb

As over 130 students and faculty flooded the Billy Graham Center Wilson Suite for a breakout session during the student-organized “Where are the Women?” conference on Monday, chairs were in short supply. Dozens of students lined the walls or sat cross-legged at speakers’ feet, surrounded by mounds of jackets and backpacks as they munched on hockey-puck-sized cookies. Soon the adjacent session relocated to create more space.

The turnout confirmed what the event’s five organizers already believed: Wheaton College needed a campus-wide conversation focused on women.

Nearly 160 years after Wheaton’s first female graduate received her degree, 55 percent of today’s Wheaton students are women. The century following Wheaton’s founding saw the women’s suffrage movement and an influx of women to the workplace. Still, women continue to encounter unique challenges in academia, the workplace, the home and the church.

“Where are the women?” — a question many women ask as they enter male-dominated spaces, careers and conversations — served as the focus for the two-day conference which brought nine alumnae to campus to share their experiences. A dive into Wheaton’s archive reveals that students have been asking this question for decades.

Life for Wheaton’s first women

At its founding in 1860, Wheaton College was a progressive institution — one of a handful of coeducational colleges in the U.S. and the only college-level women’s program in Illinois. Wheaton’s founder and first president, Jonathan Blanchard, advocated for education open to all, regardless of race or gender.

Many of Blanchard’s fellow educators disagreed, believing women were not suited for advanced study, arguing that they lacked physical or intellectual rigor, that God did not intend women to study or that young women would corrupt the morals of their male peers.

Advocating both for the “natural equality of souls” and distinct gender roles, Blanchard wrote, “Adam and Eve got their education together in Eden; and … their sons and daughters should do so in the school, though the sons may name the cattle, and the daughters dress the flowers.”

Although female students graduated on the same level as their male counterparts, their courses of study at Wheaton diverged. Wheaton offered a “Ladies Course” and “ordinary college course,” described by Blanchard as “designed especially for young gentlemen, though the textbooks in the Young Ladies’ Course are the same, or nearly so.”

The “Ladies course” allowed “something for needlework and other things,” while omitting “something of languages and higher mathematics,” Blanchard explained in the 1862-63 course catalog, adding that students recited their lessons alongside male peers as far as their studies overlapped.

At Wheaton’s first commencement, seven students graduated, all men. Adeline Eliza Collins received her diploma the following year as Wheaton’s first female graduate. Until 1877, women received an “Artium Sororis” (Sister of Arts) degree, while other colleges awarded “Maid” or “Mistress” of Arts degrees, as it was deemed improper to call a woman a “Bachelor.”

Gender segregation extended to the course catalog, which listed women students separately until administration decided to “interfile” the names in the 1870s. Although women accounted for only 21 percent of the country’s undergraduates at the time, over the next twenty years the percentage of female undergraduates nationwide would more than double.

As a result, colleges increasingly began hiring women — including Collins, the Head of the Female Department at Wheaton — to teach and counsel female students. According to research by scholar Patsy Parker on the historical role of women in higher education, hiring a “Dean of Women” gave college administrators peace of mind that male and female students would stay separate.

Women’s roles in society

Divisions between sexes on Wheaton’s campus — whether in course requirements or extracurriculars — reflected the different roles in which they would presumably find themselves post-graduation.

A 1913 Record article applauded Wheaton alumnae who, “as a rule, followed that first and most important vocation of their sex, that of homemakers.” The article also noted, however, that “their labors have not been confined to their homes,” but alumnae were serving as missionaries, “stand-bys in church and community,” pastors and Christian workers, physicians and nurses, artists and businesswomen.

Dialogue over the next century challenged gender roles. Following the precipitous increase and decline of women in the workforce during and after the World Wars, in 1960 women comprised over a third of the labor force, compared to just five percent in 1870.

Still, one student lamented in a 1970 Record issue, “How many Wheaton women find that upon graduation prospective employers are most interested in their typing speed?”

From the late 1970s to early 1990s, a flurry of articles on women’s roles hit the pages of the Record, including a series on “Women and the Church.” Many wrote in to support the “women’s liberation movement” and urge on fellow students, while others supported traditional women’s roles. A survey in 1985 revealed that most students felt there was no need for an equal rights amendment.

When Lynn Cooper, Ph.D., professor of communication emeritus, began teaching at Wheaton in 1974 as a single 24-year-old, “it was definitely a patriarchal culture.” In the early 1970s, Professor of Music Kathleen Kastner remembers, “There was much more ‘maleness’ on campus — everywhere you looked; young women had much less of a voice.”

Students organized events to discuss women’s roles. At the “Women at the Crossroads” conference in 1986, 200 women students listened to female professionals discuss identity, two-career marriages, “women in a man’s world” and being a woman of God.

The next year, another conference responded to questions from female students on career, family and leadership. Students on the planning committee highlighted the need for women’s voices. “I put my time into it because I really believe it is an area where there needs to be a lot of thinking, questioning and observing of role models,” junior Christine Dorf told the Record in 1987. “I felt that there is a lack of discussion here on campus about the choices that women have today.”

Organizers of this week’s “Where are the Women?” conference brought this conversation again to the forefront, addressing the recurring, yet pressing, question in a twenty-first century context.

A 2019 report card

Today, nearly half of college professors in the U.S. are women, up from a third in 1987, while 32 percent are tenured.

Wheaton’s female faculty now account for 36 percent of full-time professors; they comprise 29 percent of tenured professors and 47 percent of tenure-track faculty, likely due to recent increases in female faculty. While women comprise almost half of assistant professors, less than a third of full or associate professors are women. Of Wheaton’s full time faculty, 13 are women of color (5.8 percent), including nine professors who identify as Asian, two as Black or African-American and one as Latino.

Both Kastner and Cooper recognized changes over the past 40 years. One of Kastner’s first students in 1972 constantly questioned Kastner, the first woman with a doctorate in percussion performance in the country, until he attended her recital one day.

While Cooper’s students generally respected her (“only once did a male student confront me in class as whether it was appropriate for a woman to teach a man”) she said she often encountered gender stereotyping by male faculty. “A male faculty member told me that it didn’t matter if I had a doctorate because ‘You’re a woman and have no credibility.’ While administration was supportive, there were no females at this level or on the Board to advise women faculty.”

Today, “the College has also been responsive at most levels to address the needs of female faculty,” Cooper said. “I also think having a female Provost has been so encouraging and significantly helpful,” Kastner added. However, challenges like maternity leave, finding affordable childcare and male-dominated meetings continue to affect female faculty.

College administration often fares poorly in gender diversity. Women hold 26 percent of college presidencies, but only 5 percent at Christian colleges and universities, according to 2010 data collected by Dr. Amy Reynolds, associate professor of sociology and director of Wheaton’s Gender Studies Certificate. Within the last two years, two women joined Wheaton’s senior administrative cabinet: Provost Margaret Diddams and Chief Intercultural Engagement Officer Sheila Caldwell. Since 1920, only ten percent of Wheaton’s student body presidents have been female.

Reynolds encourages young women to not “box themselves in.” When it comes to structural change, her research advocates highest-level leadership at least half comprised of women of various racial identities, along with public affirmation, setting targets and putting policies in place to punish harassment and sexism.

On Monday, Amy Brown Hughes, Ph.D., sang a Hamilton track from the chapel stage as a refrain about women’s exclusion: “I wanna be in the room where it happens, the room where it happens!”

“Whether in church, workplaces or civic organizations, there will come a time, or multiple times, when a woman is in a meeting and asks herself ‘where are the women?’” Diddams told the chapel audience. “Or, in my case, over 30 years of educational and corporate settings, I still find myself asking: ‘Jeepers, am I the only one again?’”

Women in ministry

Female professors in Bible and theology face specific challenges. During Monday’s “Women in Ministry” panel, associate professor of New Testament Amy Peeler, Ph.D., said she’s often heard, “If you’re a woman, you don’t believe the authority of scripture.” “You don’t have to take my opinion,” Peeler added, “but I will go to town with you on scripture!” She invites friendly dialogue with students on women’s ordination: “We can disagree, but let’s get to know one another.”

As attendees packed into the Wilson suite, the scene looked familiar to history. On an April day in 1990, 160 students and faculty had crowded in the same space for lectures on women in ministry, organized by graduate students who “felt like the general position perpetuated on campus is a very conservative and narrow view.” A survey two years before found 19 percent of Wheaton students — and 48 percent of faculty — agreed that women’s ordination is biblical, while around 20 percent of both students and faculty were undecided.

The same year, Wheaton hired Nancy Calvert (‘82) as a Bible and theology professor to fill in for two professors on sabbatical, marking the first female hire in the department since the 1950s.“The [BITH] department has long been in favor of having a woman, but a big concern is having a qualified person,” the department chair had told the Record.

Ironically, Wheaton College has a record of women in church leadership from its early history.

Wheaton student Fannie Townsley later became the second-known Baptist woman ordained and held evangelistic services across New England. Another early graduate, Juanita Breckenridge, became the first female Bachelor’s of Divinity (now known as the Master’s of Divinity) graduate from Oberlin Seminary. Although controversy broke out as she sought her preaching license, she was ordained in 1890. Edith Torrey joined the faculty in 1919 as the college’s first Bible and theology professor.

Panelists at the 2019 conference spoke about struggling to envision themselves in ministry, missing female role models, receiving support from professors and encountering resistance — whether being told to speak from the floor rather than the pulpit, or being excluded from meetings because of their gender.

“We’re missing half of the gifts of the church if we don’t fully involve women where they’re called to be,” Elizabeth Gatewood (‘09) said.

Caldwell shares this perspective: “It will be difficult for the church or institutions to thrive if women are undermined or excluded from prominent places and positions.”

Future hopes

All five conference organizers — senior Laura Howard, sophomore Katherine Beech and graduate students Eliza Stiles, Katherine Goodwin and Hannah Hempstead — have stories that led them to ask “Where are the women?”

Howard, a philosophy and theology double-major, remembers when, as a transfer student excited about Bible classes at her new Christian high school, she was warned by the woman at the front desk to “be careful how much you get into that kind of thing, because if you get too far into it, it will be difficult to find a man who can still lead you spiritually.”

Professor of Theology George Kalantzis initially connected the five students, who planned the event independently, from the budget to social media marketing. They secured enthusiastic support from campus offices to reach — and surpass — their $15,000 funding goal to host the conference. Convening in Kalantzis’ office between events, the group said they were impressed with turnout and how “we’ve been able to empower women without tearing down men.” The team hopes to make the conference an annual event.

Conference panelists included female medical professionals, church leaders, a development professional and a stay-at-home mother who discussed relational dynamics, sexual harassment, women in leadership and the ever-changing nature of women’s vocations. Panelists also addressed intersectionality and challenges facing women of color.

“I think there’s massive power in that we’ve flooded this campus with brilliant alumnae who are talking about what it’s like to be a woman and not shying away from hard questions, and saying, ‘I ask these questions, too, and this is where I’m at in that journey,’” Beech said.

Beech said a friend approached her during the conference to say, “It occurred to me today, I could do a Ph.D. in theology and that’s never occurred to me before!” Beech beamed. “I’m grateful this conversation is allowing people to even think those thoughts; it’s allowing women to see themselves in positions they might not have been able seen themselves before.”

“Imagination expansion is the goal, in many ways,” Howard added.

Maddy Preston (‘18) says she hopes the conference “gives women a better understanding of how to occupy spaces … boldly and confidently. And for men, an understanding of how to create and allow spaces for women in those areas.”

“In the future, I hope to see more conversations surrounding the intersection of sexism, racism and classism to encourage more effective problem-solving for all women,” Caldwell told the Record.

If history is any indicator, the conversation surrounding women at Wheaton — and the world — is far from finished.

Just making noise: Card Club’s songs bring new music to campus


By Piper Curda

The Tower Room in Blanchard is a quiet, modest room on the top floor of the historic building, made more tranquil by the flurries of snowfall dancing past the windows in the brutal chill of January. The space is anything but devoid of energy, however, as three of the five members of one of Wheaton’s newest student bands, Card Club, fill the room with laid-back banter and a subtle but palpable passion for the unique music that sparked their growing on-campus following. The band was formed Oct. 8, 2018 (a date immortalized on one of the band’s merch shirts) though the initial idea originated the prior semester between lead singer junior Charles Schlabach and drummer senior Jake Richardson when they both attended the BestSemester program at the Contemporary Music Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“We were talking down there about starting something when we came back … to keep it going because that was such a good experience,” Schlabach explained. Shortly after arriving back on campus, Schlabach and Richardson reached out to junior Grant Deakins and junior Josh Zuckermann to join as bass player and keyboardist, respectively. “Jake was actually the first person I met [at Wheaton]; he moved me in freshman year,” Deakins mentioned. This elicited a chuckle from guitarist sophomore Caleb Ballard who pointed out that Zuckermann had helped him move in freshman year as well. These fortuitous moments seemed to be a running theme amongst the group, with Ballard having joined the band in an almost accidental fashion, right before the band’s first gig. “I just heard from Grant, ‘Hey dude, we have these guys that I jam with, do you wanna play a show with them?’ and I said, ‘That’d be fun,’” Ballard laughed, with Schlabach adding that “There was a good week or two where it was like, ‘Is he in the band?’” Evidently, that is no longer a question given that Ballard plays an integral role in the band, as does every member.

If we keep pursuing just being genuine in our writing, there’s going to be a fingerprint of our faith in there.

Caleb Ballard

Throughout Card Club’s conversation with the Record, the group placed concerted emphasis on the idea of collaboration. Ballard, Deakins and Zuckermann all come from backgrounds of playing in bands throughout high school and performing in a wide variety of contexts ranging from worship to art rock to classical, while Richardson and Schlabach are more grounded in a structural process of creating music which is influenced by their time in the Nashville program. This balanced combination of concept and composition seems to have lent itself to the tangible brotherhood chemistry that the band emanates both on and off stage. “It’s been cool seeing that blend because it works together really well,” Ballard confirmed. “It’s really shaped how we play and perform and how we write and what our sound has become,” Deakins added.

This sound is described by the members as “synth-y pop rock” and “happy indie pop,” replete with 80s-inspired guitar riffs, drum and bass sounds rooted in funk, and Pulp Fiction references buried in the lyrics. “There’s a lot of sad music out right now … we want to write happy music!” Deakins exclaimed, adding that “at the end of the day we just want people to have a good time listening to it and going to our shows.” The somewhat vague language the group ascribes to their music is representative of the diversity in their catalog of songs and their refusal to be put into a singular box or genre. “I’m not very knowledgeable in the history of music … so honestly whatever comes out is just kind of what comes out naturally … it’s mostly accidents,” Schlabach told the Record in a moment of modest truth. The others were quick to give Schlabach credit where it was due.

“Charles really has such a great creative vision and drive behind it and the sound we’re going for … Charles really pushes that and we’re all able to support that well and provide ways to make it better,” Deakins said. Ballard continued on, explaining that “even if somebody else comes in with an idea, it’s kind of Charles coming up with a cool melody for it.” Schlabach made sure to clarify, however, that the band is in no way a one-man effort. “It all can’t come from my head,” he said seriously. “Everybody fills the space that they’re given really well,” Ballard agreed. To that end, each member has their own unique approach when it comes to creating.

Card Club from left to right: Josh Zuckerman, Grant Deakins, Jake Richardson Charles Schlabach

“At the end of the day, we’re just making noise, and it’s so cool that that’s something that brings people together and can make people feel a certain way,” Deakins said thoughtfully. “We’re just hitting instruments and it can be clash-y and weird and still people find something in it and might find something that not even us, as the artists, found.” In a different vein, Ballard explains that he tends to find vulnerability and community in his art. “I feel most free to be vulnerable with people when I’m playing music … it’s just become kind of second nature to how I think,” he told the Record, “I get to take people into these little pictures I’ve made whenever I get to play. It’s just how I love connecting with people, and that’s what I’m passionate about.” Schlabach, who contributes heavily to the lyric portion of songwriting, expressed what he views as the two primary reasons to write music: for other people or for yourself. “I definitely struggle between the two because I don’t want other people’s opinions to affect too much of what I write, but I also want to keep it honest,” he admitted. Deakins summed up their joint creative effort in describing it as “an outlet to tell a story.”

While there is a distinctive individuality to the members of Card Club in the unique ways they dress, speak and perform that lends itself to their intriguing image as a band, there is also an element of self-awareness that each one of them consciously possesses. “I think it’s really important to stay self-aware when you write music because it’s really easy to get caught up in this idealistic vision of what you’re doing,” Ballard expressed thoughtfully, explaining how easy it can be to come across (or actually be) pretentious or inaccessible when working on music seen as out-of-the-box. “You don’t want to just write for other people, but there’s a degree to which I have to know whether or not I’m in a different world … you have to maintain that awareness.”

Deakins added that the group attempts to bring this awareness to all facets of life as a band, including stylistic choices, at which point the members transitioned into a prolonged shoutout of sophomore Elliot Young, whom the band gives credit to for their logo, t-shirt designs and social media content, among other things. In an email exchange with the Record, Young spoke of how his intrigue in the band was sparked upon hearing the name. “There was a symmetry to the name that I enjoyed and I got really excited about the possibility of that name,” Young explained, saying he drew inspiration for the logo from visual trends he’d seen on Instagram. “I love the look of bold monospace characters. I think powerful and recognizable branding is a major factor to a new band’s success and I wanted to make sure Card Club had that covered.” It seems Young’s efforts have done the trick, given that Card Club is already a recognizable name on campus, despite the fact that they are a self-described secular band which can tend to operate against the grain in a place like Wheaton. Even so, the band doesn’t see this fact as an advantage nor a disadvantage.

“I firmly believe all art is God-breathed … I’ve had very spiritual moments with secular music and the joy that comes from that I feel is pretty raw and rooted in a community that is a loving environment for people to be in,” Deakins told the Record, with all members agreeing that the secular music industry can be seen as a mission field. They spoke to the opportunities they’ve had to enter into community with other bands in the unlikeliest of places, with Deakins saying, “It’s cool to just actually meet people where they are … to spark conversation and be present with people.” Ultimately, while identifying as a secular band, Card Club aims to represent themselves as Christians in a band and noted that they have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the Wheaton community since their conception. In terms of implementing any kind of spiritual nuances in their current or future music, Ballard shrugged and earnestly articulated that “if we keep pursuing just being genuine in our writing, there’s going to be a fingerprint of our faith in there.”

It’s clear that Card Club has an explicit vision for how they want to present themselves as a band. However, this doesn’t mean they know what their future as a band will look like. With Zuckermann currently studying in Nashville at the same program where the idea for Card Club was born and Richardson on the road working for a tour, the rest of the members don’t exactly know how this will change things. “It’s a lot of question marks for us right now. We’ve been trying to continue to schedule some gigs and get other guys in, but it’s not the same without them,” Schlabach said, though the group pointed out that the absence of the others allows for more opportunity to get into the recording studio and concentrate on that aspect of things for a while. “I think we all would love to see Card Club work out,” Ballard declared hopefully, while acknowledging that each member was also working on their own solo projects. “I definitely have some stuff that probably wouldn’t fit into Card Club that I’ll finish eventually, but we seem to have fallen into something fairly good,” Schlabach said in agreement. “We all feel we’ve found something special, which is such a generic music thing to say,” Deakins affirmed, “but we’re going to ride this ship until it sinks.”

Coming alive


By Madison Cash

“We are the house of God,” junior Katelyn Beaghan told the Record. “He does not dwell in Jerusalem, he dwells within us. Are we approaching ourselves with that same reverence and that same respect?” she asked, hand resting on the bright copy of a laminated booklet with big, colorful letters spelling out the words “Come Alive!.” The interdisciplinary studies (IDS) student, with her easy, confident mannerisms and enthusiastic grin, certainly seems to come alive talking about her new initiative that bridges a biblical understanding of nutrition with practical health principles.

Beaghan is bringing a Bible and nutrition curriculum to Wheaton, creating more conversation and support around fostering a biblical understanding of nutrition and health. This curriculum was first put together by Angela Stephenson, executive director and co-founder of Living Abundantly Ministries. Stephenson told the Record in an email that the nutrition study, entitled “Come Alive!,” had a slow start at first, but was finally published in December of 2015. Small groups started using it in 2016 in churches in Wheaton, Carol Stream and Elmhurst in Illinois and Kearney, Mo. Churches as far as Albuquerque, N.M. and Australia are interested in using the curriculum, according to Stephenson.

At Wheaton, the study also meets a common yet rarely-discussed need on campus for a biblical understanding of nutrition. Interim Director of Student Health Services (SHS) Beth Walsh explained how her job at SHS has revealed several misunderstandings about nutrition that “Come Alive!” can rectify. “I’m meeting with students who are struggling in various realms related to nutrition, from an extreme of an eating disorder to body image issues, to ‘What do I even eat?’” Milligan has also collected student stories about health and their struggles with nutrition and notes this trend at Wheaton as well. She describes the divide “between students who really don’t care much about their physical health … students [that] tend to prioritize homework above caring for our physical bodies,” and “Wheaton students who are such achievers that they do work out [or monitor their food], maybe to the point where it’s a little too much and it becomes unhealthy.” She feels that “Come Alive!” can help students who struggle with both issues, whether it be carelessness or overcare for their bodies.

Both unhealthy sides of the spectrum stem from a deep misunderstanding about the value of a biblical understanding of nutrition. For Beaghan, her grasp of biblical nutrition and why it’s important stemmed from her recent experience in Israel over Christmas break. She explained, “We obviously went to Jerusalem and went to the place where the Temple used to be.… The meaning of that verse [1 Cor. 6:19-20] grew exponentially for me after seeing where the Temple was in Israel, how people approach it with such reverence and respect.” Her approach to nutrition now revolves around pushing individuals struggling with nutrition and health to respect themselves as temples of the Lord. Sophomore TJ Whitfield, the graphic designer for “Come Alive!,” agrees with Beaghan. In his opinion, “You can’t really talk about nutrition, talk about the well-being of your body, without bringing up the conversation … that our bodies are the temples created by the Lord.”

The “Come Alive!” curriculum is specifically equipped to address these issues because of its progression from spiritual principles to practical health steps. “I think the component of ‘Come Alive!’ that’s so wonderful is that you can’t really separate who we are in Christ and our spiritual walk, and how we care for our bodies, and I think combining the two is just, it makes this unique and puts it together in a whole-person way,” Walsh told the Record. The program’s objectives walk students through how to “Seek God First, Love and Be Loved,” and finally to “Honor God with my Body” with five principles: eat delicious whole foods that are high in fiber, phytonutrients and omega-3 fats, drink water throughout your day, create a mindful approach to eating, move more in ways that get your heart pumping and practice an intentional rhythm of work, play and rest. This progression moves students through the tenants of a biblical understanding of nutrition and orients them to what Beaghan calls the right heart attitude. “Everything is always a heart attitude, so it goes back to the way that you’re approaching yourself and thinking about yourself,” she explained.

Even so, while it is a Bible study, the “Come Alive!” study also causes documented real-world benefits for men and women interested in becoming healthier versions of themselves. Volume 7 of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) Preventing Chronic Disease journal reported on the effectiveness of “Come Alive!” as a weight loss and nutrition program. The CDC found that 90 percent of participants in a church-based progression through the curriculum completed the eight-week program. Nearly 75 percent of those participants continued to maintain or lose weight in a 10-week follow up after the study’s close. Even more significantly, Living Abundantly Ministries’ website reports that the incidence of metabolic syndrome, the indicators of heart disease, “reduced from 44 percent to 24 percent of participants.” The curriculum precipitated an average weight loss of 1.3 pounds and 1.6 pounds per week for women and men respectively.

The study at Wheaton is slated to be eight sessions long and each session is about 90 minutes. Small groups of students will gather on their own time and work through the curriculum, guided by a student facilitator. “It’s very chill. They don’t have to be a nutritionist, they don’t have to be an expert, they just guide discussions,” Beaghan told the Record. She worked with the EVP of Student Care, junior Grace Milligan, and Stephenson to host an event on Reading Day last semester that garnered 40-45 interested students. In addition, SHS sent out a campus-wide announcement about the study on Friday, Jan. 18. The study’s structure stems from a desire to allow participants to progress gradually in order to maintain healthy results. Stephenson said, “We propose to address them in short time segments within the rhythm of your day, only focusing on one thing at a time. Once you have a healthy routine or habit, then it’s a lot easier to maintain that healthful aspect of your of your lifestyle. ”

This study is unique in Wheaton’s sizable landscape of Bible studies. Milligan explained that it fills a gap on campus, because it’s not a DSG or a “wellness class [that] wants to throw in a Bible study.” She thinks that the powerful difference lies in the fact that the “Come Alive!” study is student led and incorporates scientific principles along with its biblical focus. “I think that’s a really powerful way to do it because you can keep each other accountable for how well you’re sleeping or choosing to eat well, your physical well-being, if you’re working out,” she stated. One of the future student facilitators, sophomore Sara Decker, agrees. She described how her own journey of nutritional health was deeply connected to her spiritual journey, and she views leading a small group as an outgrowth of her own journey. “It’s just something that I’ve come a long way with, and how God has used that in my life as a way of revealing himself and revealing his plan to me has been really amazing,” she said slowly, pausing at intervals to emphasize her own passion about this project.

Beaghan first discovered the curriculum through Theresa Stolt, the Academic Coordinator for the IDS department. Stolt introduced her to Stephenson to discuss Beaghan’s initial research question for IDS: “How does nutrition affect your spiritual life?” Stephenson and Beaghan met, and Beaghan told the Record that “The first time that we met we talked for five hours … because we have similar passions.”

This conversation also jump-started a new passion for Beaghan. “At first, I was just like, ‘This is incredible and it’s everything that I’ve ever wanted to study, so however I can be involved I want to be involved,’” Beaghan said, laughing a little at her own enthusiasm. She went through the study, along with Stolt, as a participant. After completing the study, she realized that the principles presented in the “Come Alive!” study could be beneficial for Wheaton’s campus. She began connecting with SHS, Bon Appetit and Student Care to organize the study and tailor it to Wheaton students. SHS and Student Care endorse the study and refer individuals to it, while Bon Appetit’s role in the promotion of the study remains to be determined.

Stolt told the Record, “We’ve been really, really impressed with Katelyn’s level of initiative in moving forward with this project. She’s done so much work behind the scenes of contacting people and getting things organized and moving beyond what is traditionally the role of an undergraduate student in putting this together — it’s really impressive.” Stephenson agrees — she told the Record that “Katelyn adds tremendous value to our nonprofit as an intern and she is the initiator and leader for the “Come Alive!” launch at Wheaton College. Our mutual desire is to help students and staff on their journey to a more abundant spiritual and physical life.”

One common theme throughout the responses given by those involved in “Come Alive!” leadership was their emphasis on the sovereignty of God, not only over nutrition but also over the study itself. Walsh said,“We’re just giving it to the Lord to lead, for whoever needs to come and be a part of it.” Beaghan echoed that sentiment several times, explaining that “God has been swinging doors open. I feel like I’ve done nothing, and I’ve just been following in his footsteps and he obviously has something up his sleeve. He’s got something.” She shook her head and grinned, repeating herself in disbelief. “Because here we are… here we are.”

Evangelism and Advent


By Maddie Cash | Features Editor

Dr. Jerry Root first discovered his love for Christ and passion for evangelism at a Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) gathering when he was a freshman in college. Immediately, he began to share his newfound faith with others, because he “thought everybody would want to know about this.” Three days after his own transformation, he shared the gospel with three boys in his dormitory. “I didn’t know anything,” Root told the Record, chuckling. “I shared everything I knew in about two minutes.” However, as he was praying for the college students to come to know the Lord, three Cru ministers knocked on the door to visit Root. Surprised by encountering a new believer passionately pointing others to Christ, they stepped in and led two of the three men to Jesus. Root now shares his faith with individuals “at least two to three times a week,” joking that, almost half a decade later, he now has had practice in sharing his faith.

“I’ve never stopped being grateful. I’m still deeply moved by all that Jesus has done for me. I love him,” Root said, his sincere brown eyes shining behind his thick glasses. To Root, who conducted a seminar on Thursday night, Dec. 6 about “Sharing Your Faith at Christmas,” evangelism has become a spiritual routine, that he views as vital to faith.

Yet he denies that evangelism is his spiritual gift. “I get upset if people try to say that I do [have the gift of evangelism], because they often will say that as if to suggest that unless you have the gift, you don’t have to do this,” he told the Record. According to Root, evangelism should be integrated into one’s specific gifting. Using his gift of encouragement is his specific method of getting to know an individual and sharing God’s love with him or her. “A person who [never shows respect for a person] never gets to see somebody come to faith,” Root said solemnly. “Nobody should ever … be a target for evangelism — or a project. Because the sharing of the message will seem as disingenuous as we treat these people.” Root is a firm believer in asking questions and listening. By taking time with an individual and realizing their intrinsic worth, Root emphasized that the listener will discover “where God’s already moving in his or her life and then begin to make explicit what’s going on implicitly.”

Root’s awareness of the power of evangelism is, in part, due to his lifelong study of C.S. Lewis. Lewis was passionate about evangelism, and, like Root, began sharing his faith immediately after his conversion. Root is not only inspired by Lewis’s example in discussing and developing the faith, but also his integration of literature with faith. “If you immerse in Lewis,” Root told the Record, “he opens more than wardrobe doors. He takes you to other books.” According to Root, the literature and philosophy that Lewis read and wrote about gives you “a wide understanding of human history, human thought, the aspirations of the human soul … Every time you meet a person, you bring that to the table, that, ‘wow, there’s a million places where that person’s pistons may be firing, but I think I’m familiar with a lot of them.’ And so you can connect the gospel to a million places.”

A wistful look crept into Root’s eyes as he connected Lewis’ integration of faith and learning, a cornerstone of Wheaton’s academic and evangelical mission, to the current state of evangelism endeavors at Wheaton. As part of a Wheaton evangelism group, he reports to President Ryken about the evangelism efforts taking place at the college. The group’s goal is to “cultivate an ethos where students would pick up, by intention and contagion, an interest in evangelism.” Root’s talk about sharing faith during the Christmas season was inspired by his involvement in the group. It also came about due to his conviction that Wheaton College cannot “rest on our laurels and assume that [effective evangelism training] is going to happen naturally.” In order to encourage the permeation of evangelism throughout Wheaton’s atmosphere, the group encourages faculty to share their faith, their witnessing experiences, their stories and their hearts with students.

Root compared Wheaton’s passion for sharing the gospel as an undercurrent of daily student life, similar to the train that runs by campus. At first, the only thing new students can hear is the raucous train outside their windows. However, after a week or so, students don’t even hear the chugging and whistling that so bothered them initially. “If the drumbeat to build a passion for evangelism was coming from one quarter of the campus,” Root told the Record, “it wouldn’t be long before you wouldn’t hear it anymore, just like that train.” Thus, Root hopes to encourage the Wheaton student body to be winsome purveyors of Christ’s love and entranced followers of his beauty. He concluded that ultimately, “Jesus is at work everywhere. If the students incline themselves to lean into the work he’s doing, they’ll see him a lot. If they follow the prompts of the Holy Spirit and they see somebody respond to the gospel, they get excited about it.”

Freedom of Expression: 15 years of dancing at Wheaton

  On the night of Nov. 14, 2003, Wheaton College held its first campus dance in history, marking an end to the 143 year ban on dancing. Local and national news networks were captivated by the story unfolding before their eyes; the NewYork Post even wrote about it in their “Weird But True” section, and news of this event somehow managed to make its way to a news channel in Australia.

After over a year of intensive planning by College Union President Bethany Jones, Wheaton College wasabuzz with activity. Media crews hovered around campus and students excitedly made their way to the gymnasium to participate in the historic event.

Despite the commotion that the dance aroused, Wes Carrington, a staff writer for the Record in 2003, reported that, “Wheaton’s first dance was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews from the college community as over 1,200 students crammed into the gymnasium to exercise their newfound freedom.”

Dr. Gary Burge, a professor of New Testament who attended the dance, stated, “I was impressed with our students. The turnout was great, the gym was packed and if anyone within our community — trustees, administrators, faculty, students, alumni — had reservations about dances at Wheaton, those concerns were laid to rest Friday night.”

Today, dance is such an integral part of campus life that most students cannot comprehend Wheaton without it. Hye Rim Ryu, a senior at Wheaton and a member of the dance group Rampage, says, “To me, I don’t think Wheaton would be the same — I wouldn’t have had the same experience — if dance was still banned.” She says that as an international student from Bolivia, it has been hard for her to connect with other students, but dancing has helped her build relationships with other students.

She joined Rampage her freshman year and felt embraced. Ryu said that currently, “There are a lot more [dance] groups being formed. There’s adance ministry now on campus, Zoe’s Feet. And a lot more students are willing to participate at dance events and groups or things like that.”

Ry believes that dance is slowly becoming a larger part of the Wheaton experience. She continued, “Even if students don’t dance, they go to things like [the] Talent Show and Air Jam, and they see students perform, and it’s become part of a whole community activity.”

Junior Jeremy Moore, known for his skillful and energized performance in the Talent Show, said that he grew up in the Church of God in Christ, which encouraged dancing.

Moore remarked, “When you feel the Spirit, you dance.” He said that he’s been dancing ever since he heard music, and he mainly does freestyle and hip hop with his friends. Though he doesn’t typically choreograph his dances, he is grateful to dance with people who have that skill.

Moore said about his dancing abilities, “All glory to God for giving me these gifts and abilities.”

Jill Kuhlman, a senior who hosts the Instagram account “@some_friends_dancing,” said that she first learned how to connect dancing with her faith when she joined Zoe’s Feet as a freshman. Kuhlman said, “It really just sort of changed my life.

Just thinking about how I could ask the Holy Spirit to move through me, just like you can ask the Holy Spirit to give you words to pray or just sit in stillness and hear from the Lord. I also learned that my body’s a temple of the Holy Spirit, and I could ask to pray through the Holy Spirit with my body.”

Zoe’s Feet taught her a concept known as “dancing in tongues,” and she learned how to move even without choreography. At first, she didn’t completely understand the concept, but now she’s very passionate about it: “I honestly believe it —  totally believe it — and I take it super seriously.”

In her interview with the Record, Kuhlman said, “It’s normally so much less pretty than trying to dance by myself. When I ask the Holy Spirit to move through me, it’s really weird looking, but it feels like a really awesome way to pray. Anyone can do it — you can do it!”

Kuhlman started the “@some_friends_dancing” Instagram account with her friend and Wheaton grad Rebecca Watkins after reading the book “A Sacred Shift” by Marlee Grace. Every day for a year, Grace posted a video of herself dancing. Kuhlman and Watkins were inspired and thought, “Well, nothing is stopping us from doing this — let’s do it, too!” So, as part of a New Year’s resolution, the two friends decided that every day for a year they would post a short video of them dancing on Instagram.

At first, Kuhlman was a bit nervous and embarrassed, but soon she learned to put aside her worries of what people thought, and she found a lot of joy and healing in the process. Not only does her daily dancing bring vitality to her soul, spirit and body, but it also inspires others.

In response to Kuhlman and Watkins’ Instagram account, sophomore Cassidy Keenan, along with her friend Anne Symons, created an Instagram account called “@some_other_friends_dancing.”

Keenan says that dance has allowed her to experience a kind of freedom and allowed her to enter into the presence of God. She says, “I have found one of the best things that [dance] has helped me [with] in terms of my spiritual life is with really specific emotions of grief and anxiety.

[Those] have been the two biggest ones.” She says that sometimes, “you just don’t always know what to say, and there’s so much going on and no way to let it out. You’re trying to connect and you just don’t know how, [so] when you just kind of move, it’s a language of its own; you use your body to try to say things to God that you couldn’t say [with words].”

 Keenan remarked that dance has allowed her to live in the moment and stop worrying about the past and the future. She said, “I’ve never been more fully in my own body.”

Keenan’s main interaction with dance is in Arena Theatre, but she also participates in the Zumba class at Wheaton. Liz Lengel, a senior and one of two instructors at Wheaton, describes Zumba as a “guided dance party.” It is fitness-based and generally includes Latin American and international styles of dance music, as well as American hip-hop.

When asked how dance has impacted her life, Liz said that Zumba is great for one’s personal well-being and that it allows people to “gain confidence in, [the idea that these are] our bodies and movement is not something we should be ashamed of. That’s so pervasive in our culture. Having an outlet like Zumba, I’ve just been able to see so many people come out of their shells and find so much freedom there.”

Liz said that there is “so much freedom in being totally shameless and [thinking], ‘Nope! This is dance and it’s a beautiful thing. I don’t have to be self-conscious about this and no one else should be either.’”

Themes of freedom, expression and confidence rang out in every interview with these dancers. Sometimes dancing allows people to communicate with the Lord and sometimes, as Emma Sholtz, a freshman at Wheaton and member of Swing Club stated, it is simply an “expression of joy and a chance to just relax.”

Even so, the campus emphasis on dance as a worship outlet or ministry can be overwhelming to students who want to pursue dance professionally. Senior Mercy Barrial, who has danced for over 10 years, dreams of opening her own dance studio.

Originally, she told the Record, she wanted to get a degree in dance studies but Wheaton’s liberal arts program attracted her. When she first came to Wheaton, she hoped to join Zoe’s Feet in order to pursue dance on the side. However, she found more opportunities outside of Wheaton. Now, she has been accepted into a professional dance company in Chicago.

“I don’t appreciate how Wheaton doesn’t consider dance to be something that’s academic … in a lot of ways that discredits the value of dance,” she told the Record.

Barrial entered Wheaton with dance credits and wanted to use them but found herself unable to because Wheaton’s conception of dance tends to be “ministry-focused,” and, to Barrial, discounts the value of dance as “an actual art form, like music or ceramics or painting.”

While dance as a ministry is certainly a beautiful thing, Barrial’s story indicates that perhaps Wheaton’s conception of dance has yet to be fully developed.

Whether or not you’re part of a club, dance group or professional company, one way you can participate in dance at Wheaton is through the President’s Ball. College Union member Melissa Montiel says that campus dances are a great way to foster diversity and encourage individual expression. Although she could not give out specific details about the annual dance, she said that they have chosen a venue and posters will be going up this week.

While Wheaton has yet to elevate dancing to an area of academic study, dance as a form of ministry is still a blessing for many students on campus. On Nov. 14, 2003, Wheaton students were given the “go ahead” to start dancing, and they haven’t stopped since. Dance groups have continued to perform across campus, and dance has become a part of life, a way to respond to God, a practice of health and a way to simply enjoy life and build confidence. In just 15 years, dance has gone from being forbidden to being embraced as a way to glorify God and enjoy life and movement.

Trustee Steven C. Preston takes on a new challenge


By Piper Curda, Staff Writer

Steven C. Preston is one of many committed members of the Wheaton College Board of Trustees as well as Wheaton’s Advisory Board. However, many may not know that if there were ever a Renaissance man of the business world, Preston would be a likely candidate.

His daughter, Maddy Preston (‘18), told the Record, “He literally does everything.” Preston characterized his own vocational journey as “rich and varied” in a phone conversation with the Record, lauding his diverse background in business as a continual learning experience.

He recognizes each of his different vocational callings as “a great platform for the next thing that I’ve been called to.”

In January of next year, Preston will be stepping into his newest role: President and CEO ofGoodwill Industries International (GII), an organization with its headquarters in Rockville, Md., that is committed to helping people “reach their full potential through education, skills training and the power of work.”

However, Preston’s journey to his current position was less than standard. Preston was the SeniorVice President in the Investment Banking department for Lehman Brothers from1985-1993, which he credits for helping him to “develop a foundation of skills [and] learn about the world of finance.” This job prepared him to transition into a financial leadership position at a number of companies, including FirstData Corporation (Senior Vice President and Treasurer from 1993- 1996) and TheServiceMaster Company (Executive Vice President, from 1997- 2006). In 2006, he became the Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration(2006-2008). From this position, he entered into government and served as theSecretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the Bush administration (2008-2009) before going on to work as the ChiefExecutive Office of Oakleaf Global Holdings (2009- 2011) and later as the Executive Vice President of Waste Management, which acquired Oakleaf in 2011. Always on the move, Preston soon became the CEO of Livingston International(2013-2016), a company focused on customs brokerage, trade compliance, international trade consulting and global trade management services. In 2017, he also took on the role of the Vice Chairman for the Liberty Advisor Group which aims to improve customer experience and value for the business and technology sector. Now, in conjunction with his newest role, Preston will continue to serve as the Advisory Board Trustee. “The first thing I have to do … is spend the first two or three months really digging in deep to understand the challenges and opportunities at Goodwill and … how I can work with the team to address them,”Preston explained when describing his plans for his new position.

He says he was originally drawn to Goodwill’s mission to help diverse groups of underprivileged individuals reach their full potential and provide opportunities for them in the workforce that may seem otherwise inaccessible. Goodwill was ranked in 2017 as the brand doing the most good for the world, according to enso, the World Value Index. In addition, Goodwill has been the only nonprofit organization on the “Forbes” list of top 20 most inspiring companies for three consecutive years. According to Goodwill’s press release, the company serves the nation through local organizations, which “build revenues and expand employment opportunities by contracting with commercial, state, government and non-government organizations to provide a wide range of business services.”

It is specifically this emphasis on providing work opportunities that piqued Preston’s interest. “I really believe that … we’re created to work, that we find personal expression,that we find dignity, that we create value in our work,” he told the Record. He then went on to express his enthusiasm for taking part in an organization “that embraces people with those challenges and helps them find a place in life where they can go forward and sustain themselves.”

His daughter Maddy supported this statement, saying that “at the core of everything that he has done … he really cares a lot about people … the reason that he is so excitedabout [his new job] is because of the job creation aspect of [Goodwill].”

However, while at Goodwill, Preston’s focus will not simply be to help people find jobs; he will emphasize many of the programs Goodwill already has in place for underprivileged youth, seniors, veterans, disabled persons and those with special needs or criminal backgrounds. “He’s just really passionate about getting people on their feet and providing people with a way to both be financially stable but also empowered in doing so,” Maddy said, noting that her father is extremely excited about providing those who are “generally disadvantaged” in our society, like veterans, with dignity.

Despite the ease with which he speaks about his goals and motivations for his new endeavor, Preston credits his past experiences in the world of business for preparing him for the job. “Running [Goodwill] is very much like running a business in manyways,” Preston explained. He anticipates using many of the same leadership, business, finance, marketing and branding skills that he has developed in previous jobs.

Even so, he also knows there will be points at which this new experience differs from his previous jobs in the corporate realm. “At the end of the day, the mission is very much tied up in helping people in need,” Preston said.

Along with his work with HUD, Preston also served on the board of both the Federal HousingFinance Agency (FHFA) and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He believes his time in government adjusted the way he approached business, saying, “it gave me a better understanding of how Washington intersects with Wall Street.” Ultimately, it led him to better grasp the ways in which the two spheresinteract and work together to impact the country. Preston also explained the ways his experience in business aided his work in government, referring to the tendency of many government departments to run in a similar manner to large businesses.

“There’s a terrific opportunity for … classically-trained business people to go into government and help the government be more responsive to people’s needs,” Preston told the Record. His experience with the management of Fortune 500companies also allowed him to streamline governmental processes and opportunities for aid.

Preston’s hope to live a “mission-driven life” is encouraged by Wheaton College. President Philip Ryken (‘88) told the Record that on the Board of Trustees, Preston is “held in very high regard by other Trustees for his commitment to our mission, very keen analytical ability, his ability to frame problems (he’s a real problem-solver)and he understands the leadership of complex organizations.” Preston is anasset for several different committees on the Board due to his versatile experiences, according to Ryken. The reason he was interested in serving on the board, Preston says, is because he views Wheaton as “an incredibly important institution, not only in Christianity, but in our country in general.”

He praises the perspective that Wheaton brings to complex issues at the intersection of faith and culture. Preston, having attended a secular university (for both his undergraduate and graduate education), as well as having worked in a predominantly secular workforce, especially admires the way that “Wheaton helps people make sense of how faith comes together with the world we live in.” It is no surprise that, above all, Preston commends Wheaton’sability to foster community and calls the college a “great source of encouragement and … seeing other people who really live their lives in a very missional way.”Preston describes his Christian faith as the foundation for the business decisions he makes and says that, when faced with yet another new work opportunity, “I’ve always started with the lens of faith to determine whether or not it’s something I should be doing.” It is this continuous integration of seemingly separate spheres of life that helps Preston articulate his belief that being successful in business and helping others do not have to be mutually exclusive.

He cultivates this combination through serving others through business. “Whether it be how you provide opportunities for your employees [or] how you bring dignity to the work place [or] how you advance certain values in serving other people,” Preston believes that, even aside from traditional ministries, there is always space to bring goodness into the workplace.

This is not to say that Preston’s commitment to his faith has not brought its own set of challenges. But, as his daughter Maddy said, “he really sets his own standard. He doesn’t work towards the expectations that anyone else might set for him, and I think that has made him really successful and able to really accomplish all of the things he has done.”

Even so, some of his decisions have not been met with unanimous approval. “I’ve found that I have had to make decisions that may be less aligned with typical business decisions because I’ve done them according to my faith,” Preston told the Record, though it was clear that he did not let these kinds of trials deter him from his resolve to keep his faith at the center of his actions.

He recounted moments in which he had to “sell those decisions” to people in charge, especially when it came to decisions that might have a financial impact on the lives of others. Preston said that while these decisions “may not have been the most expedient financial decisions, they were the right decisions from a human perspective.”Not only is this sacrificial business method in line with the way Prestondesires to be “mission-minded,” but he posits that it also brings about “opportunity to stand up for what you think is right and … bring people into the same mode of thinking.”

Preston acknowledges that this way of living and doing business may not be the easiest route in a secular workforce, but he encourages Wheaton students to embrace hard decisions in favor of their faith.

Preston advocates for Wheaton students to take notice of contentious areas in their field of study that do not necessarily align with their principles and to “wade into those areas asking questions … in a way that shows concern and shows care.”Additionally, he promotes a posture of listening, learning and seeking to understand how things work and how one might be able to grow through their experiences in whatever field they choose to work. This is a practice that Preston himself continues to implement in his work life, especially now as he is transitioning into a new position. He makes a point of emphasizing that, “even as a young person, you can have an impact by leading with your values” and being a “caring voice in the room when tough decisions are being made.”

Preston is assuming the role of president and CEO of Goodwill amidst high expectations. According to a press release put out by Goodwill, Dale Jenkins, Chair of the GII Board of Directors, stated that “Steve has a proven track record of exceptional leadership during his highly successful careers in both the private and public sectors. He also has a deep personal commitment to serving others that is truly inspirational. I am excited about what this dynamic combination of talent, business acumen and servant leadership will mean to the future impact of Goodwill.” Ryken agrees: He told the Record that he “[sees] this as a very good fit for Steve Preston, because it’s a CEO role for a global organization, it’s an organization that wants to give opportunities to work and if you look at Steve’s career, that’s been a key part of what he’s done with the Small Business Organization and other places, and so it immediately struck me that [Goodwill]is an ideal opportunity for him.”

Seeking God in the stars


By Abigail Aycock, Guest Writer

“When it came time to pick a major, I thought that astrophysics made sense,” Wheaton Collegephysics visiting instructor Rhiannon Blaauw told the Record.

Originally from Grimsby, Ontario, Blaauw was fascinated with the natural world from an early age. Even so, she says never would have guessed that her childhood curiosity wouldeventually lead her to a position at NASA, nor that she would one day have anasteroid named after her.

Recalling her childhood, she said, “My family went camping all the time. We would go camping for almost the entire month of July, which involved us going to pretty remote places around Canada and even the U.S. I just ended up falling in love with the night sky. Even in grade school, I absorbed anything related to astronomy. Physics was my favorite science in high school, and I figured the Lord would lead.”

Graduating from Canada’sUniversity of Western Ontario with a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics in 2008, she went on to receive a master’s degree in astronomy from the University of Western Ontario’ in 2010.

Currently, she is working on a master’s degree from Biola University. Her two master’s degrees reflect her Christian background and interest in merging vocation and faith.

Blaauw learned from an early age that being a Christian in a secular environment requires whole-hearted engagement with non-believers and believers over the shared wonders of God’s world. She cited her attendance at a secular university and her work at NASA as allowing her to integrate her scientific interests with evangelistic endeavors. In fact, interacting with other students and professors who ascribe to a completely different worldview in the context of academic science has helped her to be more passionate about her area of study.

She told the Record that “interacting with non-believers in that way made me ask myself a lot of questions, so that spurred my interest in science.” Her passion for science, in addition to connections through her research and master’s thesis, led her to begin work in 2010 with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. There, Blaauw had the opportunity to work professionally in the area of interest she’d loved since childhood.

She told the Record that she worked with a group of around eight individuals, with her speciality being“anything in space that can affect spacecraft and … meteoroids.” As part of her area of expertise, she built environmental models that allowed space craft designers and operators to create a resilient spacecraft or protect sensitive equipment.

When asked what her day-to-day responsibilities were in the MEO, Blaauw said that her work involved “taking data through various types of equipment — through cameras, radars and infrasound — and then looking at that data and allowing it to help us build a model of the environment.”

Blaauw found her work with NASA different from her previous projects. “In grad school,” she said wryly, “you tend to have projects that take months or years. Whereas when I got to NASA, my projects had [quicker] turnaround so lots of them were either weeks or months long.”

Blaauw rose to the challenge of the fast-paced NASA deadlines, and due to her development of a new methodology used to calculate optical meteor fluxes from obstacle systems, she was nominated for the Marshall Innovation Award in 2017.

According to NASA’s website, the Marshall Innovation Award is designed to “promote and honor innovation and creativity in the MSFC workforce [and] provide recognition to employees who have best exemplified creative and innovative work accomplishments and behaviors during the year.”

As a result of her nomination, Blaauw had an asteriod named after her. The asteroid, name dis 10279 Rhiannonblaauw is “orbiting peacefully between Mars and Jupiter,” according to Blaauw, who humbly told the Record that this momentous honor was just “one of the highlights of my career [at NASA].”

How did Blaauwpersevere in a new, stressful environment with such success? She creditssupportfromauthorities in her lifeas aforce that propelledherforward. “A significant part [of my success]  was that my boss really believed in me and my abilities, so that allowed me to flourish and accomplish projects that, on the outset, seemed very intimidating,” Blaauwsaid. Even when there were times she was intimidated, Blaaw persevered. Her problem-solving philosophy is to break down a problem to the simplest elements, to rely on previous knowledge and to refuse to be afraid to ask for help.

These three keys helped her grow and succeed in NASA’s fast-paced environment. After working with NASA for seven years, Blaauw found her way to Wheaton as a visiting physics instructor. Blaauw told the Record, “I thought that [it] would be a really neat experience, to give teaching a try.” She was ready for a change of pace, whichWheaton’s emphasis on Christian learning supplies. While still maintaining a contract allowing her to do some work with NASA, her primary focus at Wheaton lies in enabling her students to worship through the study of the natural world and preparing them to observe nature through a God-focused lens.

Blaauw raved about her Wheaton experience, specifically in reference to her new opportunities to think through vocational intersection.

“I love thinking through the intersection between science and religion and teaching about the different questions about life,” she told the Record. “In this context, it’s not only allowed, it’s encouraged. To be able to bring up these conversations of faith and reason and the philosophical side of science in the classroom has been a lot of fun for me.”

Blaauw said that her passion for faith and learning is encouraged by her students. “People really genuinely want to expand the kingdom of God with their lives and with wherever they go after Wheaton. And that’s really really fun for me to be around, it’s really inspiring.”

Blaauw described how Wheaton students’ passion for the kingdom of God has influenced her educational philosophy. She shared with the Record her desire to not onlyeducate the mind intellectually but to foster discernment about worldviews throughviewing the sciences with a lens of faith.

Blaauw emphasizes the importance of engaging intentionally with the scientific community. “My integration of science and faith has a lot of evangelism roots, trying to understand worldviews, trying to understand why people believe what they do and trying to understand a more naturalistic worldview,” Blaauw said. This naturalistic worldview is prevalent in scientific fields, and Blaauw has come to realize that her previous experiences in secular environments have allowed her to articulate her own worldview: “[Christianity makes] the most sense of all the worldviews.”

When asked about her primary passions and how she uses them for the Wheaton community, she said it is her calling to equip scientists to succeed not only academically, but spiritually. Blaauw pinpointed her specific mission as helping “those that have a scientific mindset to see the validity of Christianity and the richness of the truth there.” She told the Record that the practice of questioning encouraged by science lends itself well to engaging with non-believers who are curious about the Christian faith. She said she “finds people are generally pretty open to talking about [Christianity]. You can sense pretty quickly if they don’t want to go there with you, but there are a lot of people who still have big questions about life.”

Her advice for Wheaton students, who deeply care about integrating evangelism within their area of passion, is to lay a strong spiritual foundation for themselves before attempting to converse with others. “Prepare yourself to interact with other worldviews, to really think critically about the worldview that you will interact with [the]  most post-Wheaton and to really think through why Christianity is abetter worldview than that [worldview.]”

“If you think through it yourself first, it makes it a lot easier to engage with people about those topics.”Blaauw’s unique approach to evangelism, science and learning brings a fresh appeal, as she teaches others about the creation and Creator of the night sky that she loves so dearly.