The Liberal Education and Professional Success certificate is an optional enhancement to Wheaton’s Compass Curriculum. LEAPS are interdisciplinary pathways that combine classes, experiential learning and mentorship to prepare students for careers. LEAPS help students identify and develop the knowledge and skills needed in specific professional occupations. Each LEAPS pathway is overseen by a LEAPS advisor and a professional mentor from the alumni body or greater Wheaton community.

Alumni and professional mentors work with Wheaton faculty in the design of LEAPS programs to ensure that students develop career-specific skills in their pathway courses. In addition, alumni and faculty partner with Career Services and Alumni Relations to identify internship and networking opportunities. LEAPS, by design, empowers students with the knowledge, skills and experience needed to successfully enter the workforce upon graduation.

Approved LEAPS

Criminal Justice & Criminal Justice Reform

Christina Riggs Romaine (Psychology), Karen McCormack (Sociology)

Criminal Justice incorporates a wide range of fields and jobs related to the criminal courts and our legal system. This includes work within and outside the system to improve equity, fairness and justice for all members of society. Wheaton College students with the breadth of a liberal arts education, coupled with the career-specific skills acquired through the Criminal Justice LEAPS pathway, are uniquely suited to work within the system. This comprehensive foundation empowers our graduates to meaningfully contribute to reform efforts. They will make an impact in their field by using broader sources of information, diversifying interventions, reducing racial and ethnic disparities and developing new sources of information and data to inform evidence-based decisions. The LEAPS pathway is designed to allow students to develop an understanding of the structure and purpose of the criminal justice system through various lenses. Students explore human factors that influence the people in the system and the system itself: issues of disproportionate minority contact and their perpetuation in the system: and the role of policy in practice at the local and national levels.


  • Kim Gaddy, ’81, retired Sergeant Detective with the Boston Police Department (profiled in Wheaton News in 2018)
  • Dan Taylor, ‘09, investigator with the Attorney General’s Office of NY
  • Hannah Zack, ‘18, Manager of Volunteer Engagement and Programming at Concord Prison Outreach
  • Hank Meyer, ‘94, Senior Special Agent, US Department of Justice, Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms Division
  • David Candelaria, retired, New York State Police

Design & Fabrication

Kelly Goff (Visual Art), Jason Goodman (Physics)

The way things are made is changing. Whether they’re designing works of art, creating new products or developing scientific apparatus, Wheaton graduates are entering a world where computer-aided design, rapid prototyping, and advanced manufacturing techniques are the norm. At the same time, core principles of user-centered design, ergonomics and design thinking have become more important than ever. Employers are increasingly seeking graduates with experience in iterative design and the ability to manage complex projects. The Design and Fabrication LEAPS pathway gives students the skills they need to turn revolutionary ideas into working prototypes. This program enables students to work toward careers in industrial design, product development, creative arts and social entrepreneurship. Today’s students will be designing solutions for a better future.


Aleza Epstein ‘18

Food Industry: Food Science, Business, Language and Culture

Tommasina Gabriele (Hispanic and Italian Studies), Justin Schupp (Sociology), Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus (Religion)

The annual global food industry market size is trillions of dollars, and is reported to be growing at a 4% annual rate. As a result, career opportunities in food-related professions are expanding rapidly. This global industry is driven by factors such as trade (imports/exports), trendsetters (Food Network-style celebs), status (the ubiquity of “Italian” food, for example) and ethical concerns— such as nutrition, global food distribution, ecology and sustainability. In addition, it is made up of many sub-markets, such as marketing, advertising, publishing, food service, retail, regulatory agencies, culinary arts, food logistics and many others. Employers increasingly seek university graduates with educational experience in liberal arts, food, nutrition and management. This LEAPS pathway provides a bridge into the global food industry. It offers students a liberal arts foundation and the acquisition of professional skills in their chosen market segment.


  • Stephanie Pixley, ‘08, Deputy Food Editor at America’s Test Kitchen
  • Hannah Van Susteren, ‘07, Head of Marketing at Bancroft Wines Ltd
  • Zoe Keller, ‘05, Health and Nutrition Coach

Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs)

Megan Brooks (Dean of Library Services), Leah Niederstadt (History of Art)

GLAMs institutions collect, maintain, display and interpret material evidence of our world. Each year, Wheaton alumni pursue GLAM-related careers using knowledge gained from their courses and hands-on engagement with the college’s Beard & Weil Galleries, Wallace Library, Gebbie Archives & Special Collections and Permanent Collection — as well as the Computer Museum and scientific study collections of plants, shells and avian skins. In the GLAMs LEAPS pathway, students study how the sector has developed and changed over time and explore how digital and physical objects are used to create, compile, explain and disseminate information. They gain the theoretical background and practical skills needed to work in GLAMs so they are equipped to identify — and react to — the contemporary challenges faced by these institutions.


  • Kate Boylan, ’04, Associate Director, Wheaton Fund
  • Mell Scalzi, ’09, Registrar, Florence Griswold Museum

Global Fashion Industry

Francisco F.  de Alba, Montserrat Pérez-Toribio, Alberto Bianchi (Hispanic & Italian Studies)

The Global Fashion Industry LEAPS pathway provides the theoretical background and practical skills to help students access the professional world of fashion and understand its global dimension. Students will learn how fashion is the last step of a long transnational supply, manufacturing and distribution chain. It includes manufacturing and sourcing fabrics, as well as designing, patterning and sewing the garments. Most of these steps occur in multiple countries. Fashion markets and sales, of course, are also international. Finally, students will come to understand the historical nature of fashion and the careers that exist in preserving this cultural heritage.


  • Katherine DiLeo ’12 (Senior Creative Project Manager at Kate Spade Group)
  • Katherine Dunn ’12 (Merchant Analyst at Nordstrom)

Social Research

Aubrey Westfall (Political Science), Kate Eskine (Psychology/Neuroscience), Kate Mason (Sociology/Women’s & Gender Studies), Justin Schupp (Sociology), Karen McCormack (Sociology)

Students engaged in this program will learn the essential elements of social research design including survey construction, interviewing, participant observation, qualitative and quantitative data analysis skills and data visualization. The LEAPS pathway provides strong grounding in the ethical requirements and dilemmas of conducting equitable and inclusive research with, on and for people. A liberal arts background combined with the practical skills learned through this pathway prepares students for careers in a number of nonprofit, government and for profit arenas where they will be able to conduct research and analyze and communicate the results to a wider audience.


  • Chris Kelley, ‘96, Vice President of Products, Operations at Forrester Research (marketing)
  • Michelle Meiser, ‘96, Community Partnerships and Development Team at Cambridge Trust (housing access)
  • Iyar Mazar, ‘09, Clinical Outcome Assessment Scientist at Sanofi (health equity)
  • Peter Dassatti, ‘15, Clinical Operations Analyst, Teledoc Health

Stem Cell Research

Robert Morris (Biology)

The LEAPS pathway in Stem Cell Research exposes students to the scientific challenges and ethical dilemmas inherent in the burgeoning field of stem cell biology. Stem cells present tremendous promise for studying and curing human disease. Therefore, scientific techniques for producing tissues from stem cells are of great interest to biomedical researchers and the biomedical industry. The biomedical promise of stem cells is layered with complex ethical issues. Although we no longer destroy embryos to create stem cells, other ethical dilemmas arise, with designer organs and designer humans being two. Grappling with these issues and learning cutting-edge techniques early in a scientific career are the best ways for students to prepare themselves for an exciting future in stem cell research.


  • Philip Manos, Wheaton ’08, President of EverCell Bio
  • Jessica Morris, Wheaton ’21, Associate Scientist I and Lab Manager, EverCell Bio

Teaching Second Languages

Scott Gelber (Education), Mary Beth Tierney-Tello (Hispanic and Italian Studies)

This LEAPS pathway will help students develop the skills needed to teach a second language. Students will complement their study of a foreign language with several relevant courses. In addition, students will complete at least one practical experience with second language acquisition and teaching methods. Students studying Spanish, French, Italian, German and Russian are eligible to pursue this pathway.


  • Greta Phillips ’09, Teacher of English Language Learners, Underwood Elementary School, Newton, MA
  • Michelle Menacho ‘17, Spanish Teacher, The Harvey School, Katonah, NY