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...]

Engaging a worldview

Students gain perspective, insight studying abroad

Each year, students go abroad for academic study that encourages them to step out of their comfort zones and engage in self-discovery.

 “Wheaton prides itself on exposing students to multiple perspectives on critical issues facing our world today and finding connections where they may not initially be evident,” says Gretchen Young, dean of the Center for Global Education. “We want our students to experience firsthand the challenges of communicating across opinions, languages and cultures, and to learn the skills necessary to create relationships and work together with people different from themselves. Study abroad is a high-impact experience that requires students to learn and practice these skills.”

Here, students share the sights and insights from their travels.

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...]

Learning at sea

Samantha Chaves ’18

Biology major

Studied oceanography, sailing and navigation with the Sea Education Association (SEA); sailed to Lyttelton, New Zealand, and Papeete, French Polynesia

“A year ago, I don’t know that I could have imagined myself making my way up the foremast of a sailboat or even going out to sea.

“I’ve dreamed of studying abroad with SEA for a while. However, I have always gotten in the way of my own adventures because of fear, which had made the idea of spending almost six weeks away from land with little to no contact to the outside world seem like a great challenge.

“Studying abroad with SEA helped break down a lot of walls for me. I learned so much about myself, and I am grateful for the support I received from my shipmates during our voyage from New Zealand to Tahiti. I entered this program excited for the hands-on science work I would be doing and left feeling so full of happiness because of all of the other things I learned.

“The journey really helped me grow and I am already looking forward to my next adventures. I have to thank SEA and my shipmates for helping me find the courage to enjoy and experience life in the greatest way possible.”

Blog posts about the adventure:

Back to main story Engaging a worldview
Students share the sights and insights from their travels: [Read more...]