Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Seen at last

Peter Kunhardt Jr. ’05In 1950, the celebrated photographer Gordon Parks returned to his hometown for LIFE magazine to produce a photo essay documenting African Americans’ experience of segregation, but to his chagrin, the photographs were never published.

Finally, 65 years later, Parks’s work was shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in the exhibition “Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott,” which opened on Jan. 17, 2014.

In a story about the exhibition, Peter Kunhardt Jr. ’05, the executive director of the Gordon Parks Foundation, told the New York Times, “Gordon was very disappointed that the story never ran. He was really going back to a place that meant everything to him, and he wanted to use it to say something important.” [Read more...]

Making LEAPS

Alums share experiences in new discussion series

David McKinley ’93

David McKinley ’93

Film and new media studies wasn’t a major at Wheaton College when David McKinley ’93, Rachel Bowie ’04 and Lisa Madison ’05 were students. But they all ended up with successful media careers, and their liberal arts education helped them get there.

The three graduates were back on campus last spring to talk about their experiences during Wheaton’s first LEAPS (Liberal Education And Professional Success) panel discussion. Sponsored by the Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities (WIIH) and Wheaton’s film and new media studies program, LEAPS gives students insight into making the transition from liberal arts student to young professional.

These days, the value of a college education is often measured by how quickly graduates obtain gainful employment and how much they earn. But that assessment doesn’t account for the importance of education itself and how it can be applied to a rewarding career. [Read more...]

Housing director empowers New York tenants

Persephone Tan ’09

Persephone Tan ’09

A New Yorker born and raised in Chinatown, English major Persephone Tan ’09 was fresh out of Wheaton College trying to decide her next move when she met NYC Council Member Margaret Chin at an immigration rally in Washington, D.C., in 2010. After talking with her and expressing her passion for issues related to the Asian American community, Tan realized that she wanted a career in public service. Chin hired her to be a community organizer and policy analyst. Since then, Tan—who speaks three dialects of Chinese—has worked her way up to become the council member’s director of housing, assisting the 168,000 constituents Chin represents in Lower Manhattan with housing-related issues. “My focus is on the Chinese population,” Tan says. “Since I grew up in Chinatown, I speak the language and understand the community needs and the cultural norms. There are some Chinese-speaking tenants who know when they are being harassed by the landlord and there are those, English-speaking or not, who are just unaware of what their tenants’ rights are.” With her hard-earned title in hand, Tan is honing her skills even further as a newly selected member of the Coro Immigrant Civic Leadership Program in New York. This fall, she began an intensive study on how to be an effective leader and better the community in which she works. We caught up with Tan to talk to her about her job and the fellowship, and how Wheaton played a part in it all. [Read more...]

Shared vision

Recent grad brings tape art to the public

Leah Smith ’14 in Hong Kong.

Leah Smith ’14 in Hong Kong.

As a studio art minor at Wheaton, Leah Smith ’14 worked in many mediums—pencil, ink, charcoal, paint. But for her first job after graduation, Smith uses just one: tape.

At Tape Art, a small company based in Providence, R.I., Smith helps produce large-scale murals and run corporate art workshops. The murals, which are drawn on the sides of public buildings and spaces, are created entirely from painter’s tape.

“I like the fact that it’s always something new,” Smith said of the job. “When I was at Wheaton, I was involved in a lot of different things, like sports and music and research, and it occupied different parts of my mind and got me to think in different ways. I was afraid that I was going to go to work and be in a place where it was just about one thing. I like the fact that I’m at a small place where I can get my hands into everything.” [Read more...]