Leveraging experiential learning

Internships fuel passion, career aspirations and success for alumni

While a student at Wheaton, Shannon Witter ’11, who majored in psychology with minors in English and general education, interned for four years at the Elisabeth Amen Nursery School. The experience she gained teaching and observing in the campus child-study research site provided valuable field-specific knowledge that continues to help her succeed in her current career.

Witter is a speech-language pathologist who works in a range of clinical and educational environments in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In November 2018, she returned to the nursery school to present the lecture “Speech and Language Guidelines for Children Ages 3 to 5.” This time she was the professional expert sharing her knowledge with a group of local educators.

“Being back to give a talk was such a surreal experience,” she said. “I cannot believe how much time has passed but how familiar that place still felt. Working at the nursery school was one of the best experiences of my college years. With my speech kids today, I still use many activities that I learned [especially the songs].”

Her sentiment is one often expressed by many alumni, who credit Wheaton for providing internships and experiential learning opportunities that allowed them to follow their passions and develop professional skills.

The Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services for decades has helped students identify and secure experiential learning opportunities to build upon their liberal arts education.

Here, we asked a few alumni who have benefited from their internships to reflect on the lessons and the value of those experiences in preparing and supporting their paths to their current success in the working world. (Scroll to read the individual stories.)