Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Encouraging, strengthening common bonds

Alums gathered for the Student Government Association Alumnae/i affinity group reception at Homecoming.

Alums gathered for the Student Government Association Alumnae/i affinity group reception at Homecoming.

When Emily Firment ’11 arrived at Wheaton she was a January admit student, so she had missed a semester of bonding with her freshman classmates. To make up for time lost and to jump into her new campus community, she joined the Student Government Association. There she found a family of friends.

“I loved being swept up into such a close-knit group so quickly my freshman year,” said Firment, current Class of 2011 vice president. “I also loved feeling as though my voice and ideas mattered among my peers and the administration. The people I met through student government became my closest friends at Wheaton and we remain close friends today, even after we have graduated, moved across the country and gotten married.”

The powerful connection that Firment felt to her SGA mates and the college, based on common interests and goals, is exactly what the Alumnae/i Association and the Alumnae/i Relations Office are seeking to tap into and encourage through a new affinity groups initiative. [Read more...]

Answering a calling to support survivors

Indira Henard ’03

Indira Henard ’03

It was a 3 a.m. phone call that led Indira Henard ’03 to her life’s work. The year was 2007, and Henard was an aide for then Senator Barack Obama as well as a special assistant on his presidential campaign. She was also volunteering for the DC Rape Crisis Center, one of the nation’s oldest nonprofits dedicated to eradicating sexual violence.

In the middle of the night, the center called Henard to the hospital to support a woman who had been raped. Though she had been trained for the work, this was Henard’s first experience as a victim advocate.

What followed were seven grueling, emotional hours of waiting, interviews and tests. “That was a significant turning point for me,” she says. “I knew I wanted to make a difference.” [Read more...]

Director, screenwriter making Hollywood dreams reality

Alexa-Honeysting

Alexa-Sascha Lewin ’97 working on the set of “The Honeysting”

It was as a student at Wheaton that Alexa-Sascha Lewin ’97, while studying the historic contributions of women around the globe, made a vow that she’s following through on 18 years after leaving Norton.

“I promised to myself that one day I would direct a feature film about a maverick female trailblazer—a complex, multifaceted female protagonist,” says Lewin, a German major who also did an independent study in film by taking courses at Brown University, Ludwig-Maximilians-UniversitätMunich and the University of Television and Film Munich in Germany.

With her husband, Brad Rister, Lewin penned “Kingmaker,” a screenplay that highlights seven years in the life of Gertrude Bell, the English writer and archaeologist who was known as the “female Lawrence of Arabia.” Bell is credited with creating the Kingdom of Iraq in 1921. [Read more...]

Rocking and rolling in success

Beach Avenue faces the American’s Got Talent judges. Left to right: Ryan Zipp, Nick Fradiani ’08, Nick Abraham

Beach Avenue faces the American’s Got Talent judges. Left to right: Ryan Zipp, Nick Fradiani ’08, Nick Abraham

The rock ‘n’ roll life is more than just an ideal for Nick Fradiani ’08. The West Haven, Conn.-based musician performed regularly with his multi-instrumentalist father at the age of 5, in talent shows at 10, and—last July on America’s Got Talent to an audience of 3,500 with Beach Avenue, his five-piece rock group.

“It was surreal. I remember walking on stage at the Dolby Theatre for the first time and thinking the judges almost looked like holograms,” says Fradiani, as he rattles off the roster of celebrity judges: Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Howard Stern and Mel B.

“I was more nervous to answer their questions than starting the performance itself.”

The anticipation transformed into single-minded focus: Beach Avenue garnered a standing ovation from the audience and several judges, which launched them into “judgment week,” the semifinal round (and the band’s last), at the end of the month. [Read more...]