Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Ru-Shyan Yen ’08

International work: She traveled across four continents researching the batik art form and cultures, as a 2008–2009 Thomas J. Watson Fellow; worked in an artist village in Chennai, India, for a summer as a Balfour Scholar; and was a Davis International Fellow intern at the Art and Design Research Center for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Current pursuit: She is a full-time student in Yale University’s master of architecture program. “My life is consumed with architecture projects right now. I hope some of them will be inspired by the intricate batik textile patterns I have studied.”

Impact: “I want to learn about the world around me and make it a better place for us all. We are touched and sheltered by textiles and architecture from the moment we are born to the day we die. What is more important than making them beautiful and functional? There cannot be world peace without clean and comfortable shelter for all. That is why I want to be an architect.”

Wheaton’s role: “My studio art degree from Wheaton inspired me to make architecture that is both beautiful and functional.”

Thomas Sanderson ’92

Job title: Deputy Director, Transnational Threats, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Current projects: He is co-directing two projects. One is a yearlong study of al Qaeda and its affiliated movements that attempts to determine what the nature and disposition of these groups will be in 2025. The second project looks at the revival of Islam in Central Asia and the regime response to it in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. He also speaks on panels; briefs U.S. government analysts and policy makers; and travels extensively overseas to conduct fieldwork related to terrorism and U.S. foreign policy.

Impact: “By engaging all manner of people overseas, I bring a balanced, nonpartisan posture on terrorism. I’ve entered many a hostile auditorium, university, madrassah, or other facility where, by the end of a frank and honest discussion, my foreign (most often Muslim) counterparts departed with a better sense of America’s goals and legitimate security concerns behind fighting terrorism. I have forged ties with foreign academics, intelligence, human rights advocates, and many other relevant actors in the ongoing effort to understand terrorism and help reduce or combat it where possible.”

Wheaton’s role: “Wheaton played a fundamental role in preparing me to succeed in advanced graduate studies and in my eventual work in the same field by giving me important writing skills and very strong exposure to scholars of international and security affairs.”

The way forward, one step at a time

Rachel Pierre ’01 is a consultant for the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee (BRAC) USA as a member of the Haiti Response Team and manager of education programs. BRAC seeks to alleviate poverty by empowering people to bring about change in their own lives. Here, she maps out the road from Wheaton to Haiti.

My father migrated from Haiti to the United States in 1964, right at the beginning of Papa Doc. At that time, he was in the middle of his studies in Port-au-Prince. Social conditions were quickly changing. So, he left for Puerto Rico. A year later, he was given U.S. residency and moved to Boston. In 1966, he went back to Haiti and married my mother. Fifteen years later, I was born. Our family lived in Sharon, Mass., Wheaton’s backyard, where I spent my youth.

My junior year in high school, my guidance counselor mentioned Wheaton as a prospective college among many. For me, Wheaton was the best fit. I fell in love with it just for its aesthetics, but I could also see that it was a place where I could spread my wings and take advantage of many opportunities.

I had planned to major in political science. I knew that I wanted to be involved in public service and community development. But I wasn’t clear on exactly how at the time. My friend and classmate Chad Pasha ’01 said he had just completed a great course with Professor of Political Science Darlene Boroviak and suggested that I should take it.

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Blogs we like

Emily Ayer ’09

  • Peach and Pearl
  • peach-pearl.blogspot.com
  • About: Ayer started her wedding and lifestyle blog while she was a student at Wheaton. She believes it helped her land her dream job working as art director at Southern Weddings magazine right out of college.

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