Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

James and Paul Fineman ’11

Paul, left, and James Fineman 2011When Lori St. Germain Fineman graduated from all-female Wheaton College in 1981, she never guessed she would be seeing her sons graduate from the same school three decades later. But this May, that is exactly what will happen when Lori attends her 30th Reunion and her sons James and Paul receive their diplomas on the same weekend.

Lori St. Germain Fineman '81

Lori St. Germain Fineman '81 (left) and her roommate, Lauren Shaw Cohen '81.

“It will be quite moving to see both our sons in the Dimple!” says Lori, who studied French at Wheaton and spent her junior year in France. “When I graduated, I believed that Wheaton would remain all women ad infinitum. When that changed in the 1980s, I was surprised (maybe a little disappointed?), but clearly Wheaton has taken the ‘good’ and molded it into the ‘better.’”

Although the Fineman twins chose to attend college together, they have followed distinctive paths. Paul, who wants to pursue a career in sports administration, decided to major in sociology because he enjoys “the study of people.”

“We grew up in a small town in Maine [Bar Harbor], so I would have liked the environment of a big sports school,” Paul says. “But I’m not a good test taker, and I knew that at Wheaton the professors all had office hours and would be open to talking. I realized that at a big school, I’d be ‘just a number.’” Wheaton, he says, has given him both an excellent education and many opportunities for practical learning.

By tapping into resources at the Filene Center and networking with Wheaton alums, Paul landed a summer internship with the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. On campus, he teamed up with a friend, Matt Noonan ’10, to host a sports show on student-run WCCS radio and publish several issues of a magazine that featured articles about professional sports and interviews with Wheaton athletes.

His brother James is “absolutely happy” with his choice of Wheaton. “Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a teacher,” he says. At Wheaton, he majored in history, with a minor in education. He also steeped himself in practical experience through his work-study job at the Pinecroft School, an independent elementary school at the edge of the Wheaton campus. The college has a collaborative relationship with Pinecroft, where James worked as a physical education teacher and a classroom aide. In the fall, he hopes to begin graduate work in elementary and special education.

At the beginning of his college career, James was surprised to learn that neither Wheaton nor any Massachusetts college offers an education major, but now he understands why.

“I’ve heard people say that the problem with an education major is that you come out knowing how to teach, but you don’t have anything to teach,” James says. The state’s rules for teacher education require that teachers be educated in the arts and sciences as well as a specific subject specialty. At Wheaton, James has had just such an opportunity.

The twins’ mother, Lori, who teaches French at Mount Desert Island High School in Maine, chose Wheaton for its French courses and its low student-to-faculty ratio. “I recall that the professors, by and large, were very approachable and accessible. I also was struck by the passion they possessed for their subjects.” Lori recommended the college to her sons because “they had enjoyed solid relationships with their teachers in high school, and I (and my husband) felt they would benefit from the same thing at Wheaton.”

As the Finemans’ experience illustrates, many Wheaton qualities have endured through the decades. And so have some of the people: Lori and her son Paul were both taught by Edward Gallagher, professor of French.


Debra Kent Glidden ’68

A conversation with…

Debra Kent Glidden ’68

  • Go Beyond campaign co-chair
  • Managing partner at Core Point Partners

Why I invest my time in Wheaton.

Debra Kent Glidden '68 with Claire Anderson '09, Mary Elizabeth Robinson Endowed Scholar

It’s because I can make a difference, I have a distinct emotional connection to Wheaton, and my efforts, time and resources are widely appreciated. After I moved to Atlanta, I felt far away from Wheaton. Then about 15 years ago, President Dale Marshall and Catherine Conover, vice president for advancement, invited several Atlanta-area alums to lunch. I really connected with both of them and decided I needed some meaning in my life again, since I was going through a very difficult time.


I set up a scholarship fund in memory of my grandmother, who had recently died. The Mary Elizabeth Robinson Murphy Scholarship was for students studying or performing music, since my grandmother and I had enjoyed that together. That was the beginning of my giving back to Wheaton.


I met Val, the first of “my” students, and I suggested we perform some music together. Val had a beautiful voice, so I accompanied her on the piano as she sang jazz and Broadway tunes. We developed a great friendship. Sarah was the next recipient, and we got together to play piano pieces for each other. As Sarah started her last piece, my body froze, and tears started running down my cheeks. Sarah was playing my grandmother’s favorite piece of music! Of course, I told everyone on campus that weekend about this amazing experience. [Read more...]

Steven Zerbini ’11

Steven Zerbini '11The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sometimes, they get even better.

“I loved Wheaton,” says Phyllis Manousos Zerbini ’75, “and I still do.” She found that the professors took a genuine interest in their students, got to know them as people and also served as mentors. “Wheaton was the best thing that happened to me.”

“As a women’s college, Wheaton instilled in me the knowledge, skills and self-confidence to grow—and to know that, as a woman, I could follow any professional path I chose, and be successful.”

Phyllis has indeed been successful, earning an M.B.A. in accounting and establishing a career at Price Waterhouse and Pratt & Whitney. She has also run the financial operations of her husband’s company and raised three children—two of whom attended Wheaton.

Christina Zerbini Francis ’04 on her wedding day with her mom Phyllis Manousos Zerbini ’75

For her children, Christina ’04 and Steven ’11, Wheaton has been a place of opportunity. Christina participated in the women’s track team, joined the Wheaton Dance Company, served on the residence hall staff and was a member of the search committee that selected Ronald A. Crutcher as president in 2004. She also slipped in a double major in economics and Hispanic studies. Her junior semester in Cordoba, Spain, was “such a great experience that I encouraged both my sister and brother to study abroad during their collegiate experiences,” she says.

Steven did study abroad, in Australia, and he found it “incredible. I was able to experience a different culture and learn a lot about myself, my future and the world. I feel that I grew up a lot by going abroad.”

A chemistry major and an economics minor, Steven plans to attend medical school and specialize in anesthesiology. His research project with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Randall Hicks, which focuses on testing new ways of extracting arsenic and other anions from water, has helped him apply his learning “to a real situation,” he says. “I love that at Wheaton the professors and the college try to prepare you for life after Wheaton. The professors try to relate everything you learn to how you can use it in your life.”

Like his sister, Steven has been active on campus, playing on the men’s soccer team, serving as a Commencement/Reunion Volunteer, working in two college offices, and volunteering for the Wheaton Fund. “I have been very involved,” he says. “I think that is part of the reason I have had such a great experience. Wheaton has so many opportunities to offer its students, but it is a matter of taking advantage of them.”

More than 35 years after her own graduation from Wheaton, Phyllis Zerbini feels that the college has adapted well to co-education. “I still see that the community provides the skills and encouragement, and instills the self-confidence, for its students to become successful,” she says.

Her daughter Christina corroborates that thought. Christina has worked at United Technologies Corporation for nearly seven years, beginning as an associate in a leadership training program, which exposed her to four different roles within accounting and finance. She now works as a senior financial analyst in UTC’s internal audit department. Her Wheaton education has served her well, she says. “The critical thinking and approach to problem solving that my professors at Wheaton helped me develop has provided me with a strong foundation that I leverage and build upon daily,” she remarks.

“It’s very special for me to have this unique Wheaton connection with my mom and brother,” she adds. “I love it! Although many things about Wheaton have changed, many things have stayed the same. I can’t wait to see my little brother become a Wheaton alum in May, and I’m looking forward to seeing who will be next in the family to become a Wheatie.”


More Wheaton families

What’s your story?

Tell us about your Wheaton family tree.

Write to quarterly@wheatoncollege.edu or Wheaton Quarterly, 26 East Main St., Norton, MA 02766.

Priscilla King Gray ’55 shares a Wheaton connection with her daughter Amy Gray Sluyter ’80 and granddaughter Hannah Wilson Army ’04. Priscilla’s husband, Paul Gray, is a Wheaton life trustee.

Nathaniel Hunt ’13 is preceded by his grandmother, Carolyn Betts Arnold ’56, his great-grandmother, Dorothy Wood Arnold ’23, and his great-great-great-grandmother, Frances DeWolf Rogerson Heath, who attended the Wheaton Female Seminary in the mid-1850s.

Hope Hamilton Pettegrew ’61, a trustee emerita, has held many leadership roles, including president of the Wheaton Alumnae/i Association. Her Wheaton daughters are Caroline Pettegrew Anderson ’87 and Ann Pettegrew Hoke ’89.

Virginia Loeb Weil ’42 was first in a long line of Wheaton grads: her daughters Vicki Weil ’65 and Rosalind Weil Markstein ’69, and grandchildren Nicholas Langman ’98 and Virginia Weil Markstein ’99. Virginia Loeb Weil’s husband, Robert Weil, is now a Wheaton trustee emeritus. Wheaton’s Weil Gallery in Watson Fine Arts was established in 2001 by the Weil family in honor of Virginia Loeb Weil.