Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Reaching a milestone inspired by Wheaton

Amie Weinberg 1986A year ago this May, I achieved a personal milestone. With my husband and children in attendance, I walked across the stage at George Mason University and received my Ph.D. in education. The path to that stage began some 20 years ago, during my senior year at Wheaton.

I attended Wheaton from 1982 to 1986 and it was a perfect fit for me. I didn’t specify that I wanted to attend a single-sex college, but several of the schools I pursued were just that: all women. Perhaps I instinctively realized that I would be more comfortable at an all-women’s institution, and that I could learn to be my authentic self in such an environment. I knew that I wanted to attend a small college, where I could become involved in various activities and make genuine connections with faculty members.

Wheaton was far enough from my home in Peabody, Mass., that I felt independent, yet I could still return to eat a home-cooked meal or to celebrate a special occasion. But there was something more, something intangible about Wheaton that just felt right. I intrinsically felt like I belonged right there, in Norton, for my college years. (And little did I know that I would end up meeting my roommate and dearest friend, Debbie Leonard Barrette ’86, through whom I eventually met the man I married one day after graduation in 1986.) [Read more...]

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.”