Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Notable lessons

I picked up the cello for the first time when I enrolled in a summer music program to learn to play the instrument. The experience surprisingly changed my life.

Initially, every success at being able to play a piece of music was supremely satisfying. I already appreciated classical music, thanks to my parents, whose passion for it led them to share it with my brothers and me. Being able to play it for myself was a revelation.

I couldn’t put the instrument down. I practiced for hours at a time, teaching myself how to play Bach’s Suite for Cello #1 by studying a film of a Pablo Casals performance, borrowed from the local public library. My mother later told me that she sometimes left the house, simply to get away from the constant sound of false starts, muffed notes and abrupt stops.

That initial drive to master the music brought me to the attention of music professor Elizabeth Potteiger at the nearby Miami University of Ohio. I took lessons from her every Saturday for four years, and I learned a great deal, about playing the cello, injecting artistry into performances, and life’s possibilities. Her life as an academic and a musician served as an early inspiration and model for my own path.

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Going beyond

The most remarkable things happen at Wheaton: students find themselves and their futures.

Robert Manguso, who graduated this spring, stands as a case in point. A resident of Milford, Mass., he began his college career planning to major in business. But he found the subject less than stimulating, the school somewhat disappointing. He transferred to Wheaton, and after taking a class in biology, he decided to major in the field.

As a biology major, Robert ranged well beyond the classroom. He served as a research assistant to Professor of Biology Robert Morris, attended scholarly conferences in New England and California, and worked as a course assistant at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole during the summer.

Today, as a Fulbright Scholar, he is on his way to the University of Copenhagen, where he will explore his dream of working as a researcher in the lab of a renowned scientist whose work is similar to the studies he conducted with Professor Morris.

Robert’s college experience positioned him to take a step that, four years ago, was not on his radar screen. His classmates have embarked on equally inspiring journeys. [Read more...]