Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Return to music feeds the soul

Janna Frelich ’78Janna Frelich ’78 started singing when she was 2 years old, took up piano at 7, and joined her first chorus at 9. It was the beginning of a life steeped in music.

Second actsFrelich earned two degrees in music. She sang in adult choruses, wrote songs, learned to play the harp and worked as a church soloist. But as much as she loved music, it remained a part-time pursuit, until recently. In 2010, after working in health research positions for 26 years, Frelich quit her job as a statistical programmer and enrolled in graduate school to become a music therapist and mental health counselor. [Read more...]

Following her passion at 80

“A bonus life.”

That’s how Dorothy Weber Trogdon ’47 describes her career as a working poet, which didn’t reach full flower until she was 80 years old.

Second actsInitially, her life’s path led her to design, not poetry. Trogdon majored in art history at Wheaton, then earned a master of architecture degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design. It was there she met her future husband Bill Trogdon, who was studying under the renowned Walter Gropius.

After marrying, the couple moved to Seattle, Bill’s hometown. He found work right away in a leading architectural firm, but for Dorothy it wasn’t so easy.

“In office after office, I was turned away because I was a woman,” she says. “One potential employer stated frankly that having a woman in the drafting room would mean the guys couldn’t tell their dirty stories.” [Read more...]

Talent, luck star in award-winning producer’s life

Emmy Award–winning television producer and founder and president of Molly Two Productions.“A series of happy accidents,” that’s how Marion Lear Swaybill ’63 describes the journey that took her from a Wheaton freshman to Emmy Award–winning television producer and founder and president of Molly Two Productions.

“There was no path,” says Swaybill, “no bold idea.”

Marion Lear Swaybill ’63Swaybill majored in American history, “mainly because it interested me.” History proved fertile ground for the future documentary filmmaker. Her films have covered a wide range of topics: the Holocaust (“Witness: Voices from the Holocaust,” 2000); growing up in war-torn Kosovo (“A Normal Life,” 2003, winner of the Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary award); sex trafficking in America (“10,000 Men,” 2012); and choral music (“Conspirare: A Company of Voices,” 2009).

After graduating from Wheaton, Swaybill studied for her master’s degree in social work at Columbia University but left after a year. Though she worked in foster care for a time afterward, social work did not fulfill her, she says.

In the spring of 1966, she met Roger Swaybill, her future husband. “He hated the fact that I didn’t like what I was doing and encouraged me to quit my job and find something more satisfying—and fun. So I did.”

[Read more...]

Making a big deal of little things

Dorothy Brighton McGrath ’96Whether she is leaving popcorn for a Redbox video customer or donating items to her local cat shelter, Dorothy Brighton McGrath ’96 is committed to helping people through good deeds—and to making it easier for others to do the same.

In that effort, the Amesbury, Mass., resident, along with her friend Danielle Levy, launched The Littlest Change in January. The company promotes kindness by encouraging people to do small thoughtful acts for others.

Through the sale of T-shirts and other items, The Littlest Change raises money for operating costs and creates stickers and postcards that help spread the word about how doing good for others can be good for all. People are encouraged to do nice things and upload their good-deed photos to the company’s website and Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. McGrath and Levy also are reaching out to local store owners and teachers nationwide to spread the word.

[Read more...]