Wheaton’s synchronized swimming team performed during a Tritons reunion and 75th-anniversary celebration on campus in September 2015.
I spent an unforgettable day with the Tritons during my second year on campus. The former synchronized swimming club, now an NCAA-recognized team, held a reunion in September 2015, to celebrate 75 years of competition. It was my introduction to the sport’s proud history at Wheaton and to the incredible community synchronized swimming has created. The deep sense of connection—mutual appreciation, respect and friendship—was striking. The bonds extended well beyond contemporaries, too; the most senior swimmers connected with current athletes over shared experiences and love for their sport.
The celebration impressed me a great deal then, and that feeling has stayed with me. In many ways, Wheaton’s synchronized swim team is special. (After all, how many NCAA Division III sports spend decades competing against the nation’s top Division I schools and consistently rank among the very best?) However, I’ve also come to realize that the sense of community among alumni is very much part of the Wheaton ethos.
Alumni engagement strengthens the community. This is why I want to urge every alumna and alumnus to connect with the people and the organizations that were important to their Wheaton experience.
This year, the college hosted a number of gatherings of alumni who shared membership in a particular club or activity—the Gentlemen Callers 30th-anniversary concert, the 25th anniversary of Emerson House, and milestones for Trybe and the Lymin’ Lyons, among others. Each event was brimming with good feelings. What united the participants in all the events was their affinity for the organization in which they were involved as students—their shared experiences and their continued loyalty to their clubs and to each other.
When alumni return for these gatherings and reflect on their time together, they develop renewed appreciation for their Wheaton experience. And they are not the only ones who benefit. Current students gain a great deal, too. What I observe is that students learn something about the history of the organization in which they are immersed and they attain valuable perspective on the immediate challenges and the lasting rewards of what they are doing.
In short, alumni engagement strengthens the community. This is why I want to urge every alumna and alumnus to connect with the people and the organizations that were important to their Wheaton experience—maybe a club or an activity. It’s a wonderful opportunity to reclaim a part of yourself while giving a part of yourself to others. This is the perfect time to do it, too. The Wheaton College Alumni Association, which will be celebrating its 150th anniversary during the coming school year, was set up for this very purpose.
During Commencement Reunion Weekend, Wheaton Alumni Association President Joshua Bauchner ’95 said, “I find it fitting that the Wheaton experience begins and ends with traditions that connect graduating seniors to generations that have come before and to generations to come.” Then, he challenged the more than 500 alumni attending Reunion to get involved in the college and in the association.
It’s an important message. If you haven’t plugged into the Wheaton network lately, please do. Your college needs you. Wheaton would not be the institution that it is today without the connections that are formed among alumni and students. Those relationships create a worldwide network for current students and graduates, as well as an indispensable source of support for the institution itself. Your involvement elevates us all.