Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Rebecca Harvey discovers her career in science

A Wheaton education can take one in unexpected directions. Just ask Rebecca Harvey ’08.

Rebecca Harvey '08

Rebecca Harvey '08

When Harvey arrived at Wheaton as a freshman, she was planning to pursue a career in dentistry. Today she is an ecological manager at the Squam Lakes Association in New Hampshire, where she monitors water quality, researches environmental issues and leads educational outreach for the nonprofit conservation group.

Growing up in southern Maine, Harvey had never considered such a career, although she had volunteered for an animal refuge and enjoyed her AP chemistry class. An internship helped change her mind.

Wheaton had awarded her a Trustee Scholarship, which includes a stipend to pay for a summer experience. During Harvey’s sophomore year, biology professor Barbara Brennessel suggested to her that she use it to intern at the Cape Cod National Seashore, where Brennessel has done research. [Read more...]

Working to protect others

In New York City, Christopher Paquet ’03 has made the protection of lives his daily mission. As the intra-agency liaison officer for New York City’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response since July 2009, he plays an integral role in protecting more than nine million lives. His job entails working with the city’s leadership to develop and enhance the response capabilities to biological, natural and man-made disasters. Ensuring the safety of New York City is no small task, especially since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Christopher Paquet ’03

Christopher Paquet ’03

“Planning to respond to emergencies is never easy,” he says. “The unknowns are great, and the consequences for inadequate planning and response can lead to losses in life. It’s hard to forget that when doing my work every day. The work never ends and nothing is ever one hundred percent.”

But he loves his work. “My job is never boring. I often tell my family and friends that working here is an educational experience every day. Although I bring emergency management experience to the table, I work with world-renowned doctors and experts on very complex public health challenges. The H1N1 response was an opportunity for me to get a crash course on the spread and prevention of influenza. It was exciting to be a part of a response that I knew was helping the citizens of New York.”

Paquet graduated from Wheaton as a political science major, intending to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather as a politician. However, encounters with a different type of leadership sent him in a different direction. As a graduate student at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, he took on the heavy responsibility of managing a dorm of over 900 freshmen and 40 residential advisors, who helped the school through a crisis among the student body. During his second year at graduate school, he was given the opportunity to consult with the African Council for Sustainable Health Development, headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria. As part of a team of four, he was asked to assess and report on how to better manage health concerns for the Pan African Health Organization. [Read more...]

A taste of adventure

Betsey Dyer

Professor of Biology Betsey Dyer sniffs some edible greenery at her childhood farm in Rehoboth, Mass.

In the spring 2010 issue of the Quarterly, I wrote a story about “The Complete Amateur Naturalist” First Year Seminar, which was taught by Professor of Biology Betsey Dyer, in collaboration with Professor of Religion Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus. As part of my fact gathering, I eagerly accompanied the class and professors on a field trip to the Rehoboth farm where Dyer grew up.

It wasn’t enough for students to discuss and read about eating off the land in the classroom. Dyer and Brumberg-Kraus, two well-known campus foodies, wanted them to experience it. So Wheaton.

Orange mushroom

Orange mushroom

On a lovely day in September, reporter’s notebook in hand, I followed the group around the farm as they learned about various edible flowers and plants, including a really strange-looking orange mushroom growing from the side of a tree. (Brumberg-Kraus would later use one of those in a stew after a student discovered one on campus.)

At one point, as the group was sampling some sort of greenery from the ground and I was observing from my objective writer’s distance, Dyer suggested that I eat what they were eating. And faster than I could say, “Are you kidding me? No way,” she had popped the green whatever into my mouth! From what I remember (I’ve been trying to forget), she had a vague smile of satisfaction on her face as I munched in disbelief.

[Read more...]

Letters to the editor

Autism story shows contrast to earlier days

Congratulations on your article about autism in the winter Quarterly. It is truly amazing to see how many media stories there are now about autism spectrum disorders, something few people knew of back in 1974 when I was hired to teach a class of 3-year-old autistic children.

I answered an ad in the local Westchester County newspaper looking for a teacher in this field. When I read the ad, I thought it said “artistic” children. Since I had majored in art at Wheaton and had a master’s degree in elementary education, I thought I’d apply. Little did I know what I was getting into. I had four children in my first class, all nonverbal, severely autistic, self-abusive, spinning, no social skills, etc., and it was quite something to deal with.

[Read more...]