Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Building bridges to jobs, dignity

Margo Walsh ’86 helps recovering addicts find work

Every day you can find her at 6 a.m. in a 7–Eleven parking lot in Portland, Maine.

Margo Walsh ’86, with her team of MaineWorks employees, at a construction site

She stands in a circle with dozens of job-seeking recovering substance abusers, new immigrants, returning veterans and others with previous nonviolent felony convictions.

Margo Walsh ’86 is no ordinary executive, and MaineWorks is no ordinary staffing company. Walsh—founder and owner—is not there just to connect these individuals with jobs. She is there to help them rebuild their lives.

“There is always a circle of people, with Margo at the center. She talks to us like we mean something. She always has something inspiring to say, even that early in the morning,” said Cecil Solaguren, a former heroin addict who found work through MaineWorks, and eventually joined the company as its field operations manager.

Each morning, Walsh offers a new motivational speech, story or thoughtful message to the workers as they head off to their respective jobs.

“That circle in the morning is the staple of MaineWorks,” Solaguren said. [Read more...]

Staging success

From acting to teaching, Stacey Linnartz ’95 shares a love of the arts

Theater can give a voice to even the most inhibited.

Sarah, an immigrant to New York, discovered that when participating in free performing arts classes offered at her Brooklyn-based school, Vista Academy.

Stacey Linnartz ’95 and students from the High School For Health Professions Drama Club warm up before rehearsal in March 2017.

The sixth-grader hardly uttered a word during the first four classes, but soon found an opportunity to break through her shell during one particular assignment. The class, divided into small groups, was asked to create a play with a beginning, middle and end—that had to consist of a dream, a challenging true story and a magical element.

“When it came time for the group to perform their play at the end of the class, Sarah’s group did a mime and movement piece—totally without words—which was the story of Sarah’s emigration [from China] to the U.S.,” recalled Stacey Linnartz ’95. “Somehow she was able to communicate her story to her group and they were able to create, rehearse and perform it without words. There was not a dry eye in the house among the adults, and the kids loved it so much they demanded to see it again.”

After the performance, students saw Sarah in a whole new light, and flooded her with questions about her journey to the U.S.

“And the best part of all was that Sarah and her group cast her as herself, as ‘Sarah, the heroine,’ who had overcome challenges and arrived in this classroom, to share her story with us. And she was brilliant,” Linnartz said. [Read more...]

Global views from campus

Global Students

Pictured from left, Nefeli Batistatou, Rodney Rugamba, Kexin Zhen, Tom Fenu, Yaohang Fan, Lucia Verdejo, Tamaki Nagai and Caroline Kennedy (all Class of 2019)

The Global Leadership Development Group (GLD), a student organization, is shedding light on international issues for the benefit of the larger Wheaton community.

Each year, under the advisement of President Dennis M. Hanno and dedicated faculty, a new GLD class is formed. This past academic year students hailed from Bahrain, China, France, Greece, India, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Switzerland, Turkey and the U.S.

“The GLD’s goal is raising awareness of global issues, and sensitizing the community so they take action,” said Nefeli Batistatou ’19, a biochemistry major from Greece.

The group engages the rising number of international students attending Wheaton, said Gail Sahar, professor of psychology and advisor to the group. “Bringing international students to campus isn’t enough; you must help the general population understand their issues. Also, it helps international students to see our commitment to global issues.” [Read more...]

Ryan Saunders ’00 teaches the business arts

Visting instructor Ryan Saunders ’00

Visting instructor Ryan Saunders ’00, right, introduces guest speaker Peter Mello, managing director at WaterFire Providence, to students in his “Arts Administration” class this spring.

Ryan Saunders grew up singing in the Chorus of Westerly, a large intergenerational community choir based in Rhode Island. And now—many years later—he serves as the organization’s executive director.

Before landing where he began, though, Saunders followed quite a journey. He built up his credentials working in leadership roles in various arts organizations, and has successfully advocated for state funding of the arts. [Read more...]