Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Dogged pursuit pays off

Michelle Riccio ’09 has won a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh grant that will allow her to fund a program that combines the rescue of shelter dogs with the rehabilitation of prison inmates. It’s a pet project that she has hoped to do since she was a student at Wheaton.
Michelle Ricco 2009

Riccio was involved in the rescue of both dogs pictured. The golden retriever is named Tucker; he was adopted from the Norton Animal Shelter and is living the sweet life with Riccio’s aunt and family in Rhode Island. (He came into the shelter as a stray while she was volunteering there, and she helped coordinate the adoption.) The black mutt is her family dog Bailey. She was adopted from Home Away From Home Rescue in South Carolina. “After months and months of searching for our new family member, I found her posting on Petfinder.com (the national adoption website for animal shelters and animal rescues).”

Her program, Don’t Throw Us Away, has been approved by the Massachusetts Department of Corrections and has been implemented in the North Central Correctional Institution at Gardner, in Gardner, Mass. “This really is a dream come true,” said Riccio, a Connecticut resident. “I am so excited! I have been working on creating a prison dog program since November 2008, the fall of my senior year at Wheaton. All the hard work finally paid off.”

The program aims to give inmates a second chance, to be defined by the good they can do, rather than by the wrongs that they have done, she said. “For these inmates, experiencing the unconditional love of a pet gives them a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. Being responsible for someone and having the dogs rely on them for care, attention and training improves the inmates’ perspective on life and themselves. And they learn compassion from their dogs and use these skills to build relationships with people.”

The dogs, which would have been euthanized in kill shelters, also get a second chance at life. [Read more...]

Going the distance–in Antarctica

Google the word Antarctica and this is what you get: “Antarctica is the coldest, highest, windiest, driest and iciest continent on Earth.”

Can you imagine running a marathon there?

Kiersten Pfeifer has envisioned it since 2006.

That’s the year she graduated from Wheaton with a degree in anthropology and the year she signed up for the Antarctica Marathon, organized by Marathon Tours & Travel. Believe it or not, the race is so popular that there is a years-long waiting list, never mind that birds are known to dive bomb the runners and energy gel packets freeze there.

Pfeifer finally got to run it this year on February 28, in 50 mph winds. Not only did she run the marathon, which she described as “tough, but amazing,” she also won in her under-age-39 division, finishing at 5:14:24. [Read more...]

Newsmakers: June Daisley Lockhart ’42

June Daisley Lockhart ’42June Daisley Lockhart ’42 has had a passion for pottery since childhood. At age 90, that love continues. In fact, an article about her in the January issue of Shell Point Life magazine described her as “a driving creative force” for more than a decade in the pottery studio at the Shell Point Retirement Community in Fort Myers, Fla., where she lives. The studio was a big selling point when she and herJune Daisley Lockhart ’42 late husband were looking for a place in the 1990s. Now, every day she can be found there from 8:45 a.m. to noon, making pottery and teaching others. And her work has a high place of honor each week at her church. Her handmade chalices, cruets, pitchers and other items are used during the celebration of the Eucharist. At Wheaton, Lockhart minored in art. Initially, she was interested in a degree in psychology. However, “After one course, I changed my mind and took zoology…. Every time I went to a zoology class I learned something new,” she said in the article. Regarding her pottery, she noted that she does it purely for the joy of it: “I’m not a production potter—someone who creates something that sells well and then repeatedly produces it. There’s a place for that, but I get more pleasure out of figuring out how to do something—problem solving. I make a lot of different things, like pots, decorative pieces, and other items of use. However, once I do it well, I don’t do it anymore.”


Newsmakers: Marjorie “Marge” Funk ’73

Marjorie “Marge” Funk ’73The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses has awarded Marjorie “Marge” Funk ’73 the 2011 AACN Distinguished Research Lectureship. The award, given annually since 1982, recognizes nurses who have consistently conducted research that has had an impact on the field of nursing. Funk, a nurse with a clinical background in cardiac critical care, has been on the faculty at Yale University School of Nursing since 1984, where she teaches and conducts research. She also has a Ph.D. in chronic disease epidemiology from Yale University. Her research focuses on the wise use of technology in the care of critically ill patients with heart disease. She has examined the appropriate and safe use of technology, its equitable distribution, and the human-to-machine interface. The use of a particular type of technology—electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring—has been a thread throughout her research career. Her emphasis has been on the clinical application of monitoring—how nurses use it and how patients might benefit. In considering how far technology has come over the years, she points out that “technology Marjorie “Marge” Funk ’73permeates every dimension of health care, especially in critical care units. Bedside technology is integral to the assessment and monitoring of patients, and to the provision of treatment. It also helps with access to vital information and can enhance communication. While it offers extraordinary benefits to patients and clinicians, technology may also create problems.” Although Funk majored in religion at Wheaton, it was a summer job that led her to her true calling. “Perhaps because religion was not central for my family, I became interested in studying different religions at Wheaton. I was fascinated by how people worship, the nature of their faith, and the psychological needs that religion fulfills,” she said. “Eventually, I faced the unfortunate fact that, as an agnostic soon to obtain a degree in religion, I was not very marketable! I had worked in a nursing home during summers while at Wheaton and started to consider that I might want to be a nurse. I entered the Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing, a two-year program for college graduates. Upon obtaining my B.S.N., I accepted my first nursing position at Yale-New Haven Hospital.”