Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Answering a calling to support survivors

Indira Henard ’03

Indira Henard ’03

It was a 3 a.m. phone call that led Indira Henard ’03 to her life’s work. The year was 2007, and Henard was an aide for then Senator Barack Obama as well as a special assistant on his presidential campaign. She was also volunteering for the DC Rape Crisis Center, one of the nation’s oldest nonprofits dedicated to eradicating sexual violence.

In the middle of the night, the center called Henard to the hospital to support a woman who had been raped. Though she had been trained for the work, this was Henard’s first experience as a victim advocate.

What followed were seven grueling, emotional hours of waiting, interviews and tests. “That was a significant turning point for me,” she says. “I knew I wanted to make a difference.” [Read more...]

Director, screenwriter making Hollywood dreams reality


Alexa-Sascha Lewin ’97 working on the set of “The Honeysting”

It was as a student at Wheaton that Alexa-Sascha Lewin ’97, while studying the historic contributions of women around the globe, made a vow that she’s following through on 18 years after leaving Norton.

“I promised to myself that one day I would direct a feature film about a maverick female trailblazer—a complex, multifaceted female protagonist,” says Lewin, a German major who also did an independent study in film by taking courses at Brown University, Ludwig-Maximilians-UniversitätMunich and the University of Television and Film Munich in Germany.

With her husband, Brad Rister, Lewin penned “Kingmaker,” a screenplay that highlights seven years in the life of Gertrude Bell, the English writer and archaeologist who was known as the “female Lawrence of Arabia.” Bell is credited with creating the Kingdom of Iraq in 1921. [Read more...]

Rocking and rolling in success

Beach Avenue faces the American’s Got Talent judges. Left to right: Ryan Zipp, Nick Fradiani ’08, Nick Abraham

Beach Avenue faces the American’s Got Talent judges. Left to right: Ryan Zipp, Nick Fradiani ’08, Nick Abraham

The rock ‘n’ roll life is more than just an ideal for Nick Fradiani ’08. The West Haven, Conn.-based musician performed regularly with his multi-instrumentalist father at the age of 5, in talent shows at 10, and—last July on America’s Got Talent to an audience of 3,500 with Beach Avenue, his five-piece rock group.

“It was surreal. I remember walking on stage at the Dolby Theatre for the first time and thinking the judges almost looked like holograms,” says Fradiani, as he rattles off the roster of celebrity judges: Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Howard Stern and Mel B.

“I was more nervous to answer their questions than starting the performance itself.”

The anticipation transformed into single-minded focus: Beach Avenue garnered a standing ovation from the audience and several judges, which launched them into “judgment week,” the semifinal round (and the band’s last), at the end of the month. [Read more...]

Good job

Nancy Dewey Simpson ’51Nancy Dewey Simpson ’51, a paralegal in the estate planning practice area of Palmieri, Tyler, Wiener, Wilhelm & Waldron, celebrated her 85th birthday on Oct. 31, 2014. She takes great pride that she is still on the job and active after all these years. She has worked at the firm for more than 39 years (and attends Pilates classes with her husband, Alec, twice a week). Simpson graduated from Wheaton with a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in economics and history. In February 1975, she received a certificate in attorney assistant training-probate administration from the UCLA School of Law Extension Program. She specializes in probate and trust administration. She also prepares federal estate tax returns, gift tax returns, and accountings for estates and conservatorships. Nancy works full time and when asked why she doesn’t retire and enjoy more traveling with her husband, who has been retired for more than 20 years, she says: “Working at Palmieri Tyler keeps me active. I love the mental challenge, especially working with numbers and difficult accountings.”