Through the Student Lens – A look at student activities and student leadership at Wheaton

What does it mean to be a student leader at Wheaton? How can students take advantage of activities and clubs on campus? Meet a senior student leader who dove into all Wheaton has to offer and take a look Through the Student Lens.

Han Yang ’22
Major: Philosophy
Home country: China

What was it like being a transfer student and what made you feel “at home” at Wheaton during your first year?

As an international transfer student, coming to Wheaton was an intimidating and exciting step to make. The total new study and living environment requires time and strength to accept and adapt. Luckily, despite obstacles, my transition to Wheaton ultimately went pretty well with the help of my wonderful professors, staff members and peers.

For me, every moment spent at Wheaton feels like home. From the warm morning smile of the staff cleaning on my floor to the “Happy Monday” greeting from the chef in Chase Dining Hall. From my open-minded peers who were willing to listen to and respect my opinions in class to my incredible professor who took one extra hour each week to check in with me during the pandemic year, Wheaton is home because people here love and support each other genuinely and wholeheartedly.

What activities are you involved in and/or what leadership roles have you taken on? How did you come to take advantage of those opportunities and which have you enjoyed most?

I worked in the President’s Office and the Wallace Library during the academic year. This summer, I worked as an orientation coordinator and that is the position I have enjoyed the most so far because of the chance I had to get to know more people. 

During the summer orientation, one of my advisees came to visit Wheaton with her family. I took her family on a mini Wheaton tour and we spent the whole afternoon together. This is one of the incredible parts of Wheaton, you can always make unique and memorable connections out of expectations.

How has your involvement impacted your college experience and broadened your skillset?

I would say my experience as an orientation coordinator had the most impact on me. Not only because it improved my skillset (my skills as an efficient communicator, as an affiliative leader, and as a team player) but also because—and most importantly—it changed me as a person. I remembered what I was like at the beginning of my orientation job. I was shy and resisted the very idea of being a leader because I was too scared to take on any responsibilities. I felt uncomfortable sharing my opinion with people, not to mention leading and giving instructions to them. Nevertheless, with the generous support and patient guidance of my directors as well as the magnanimous gesture and warm encouragement of my co-workers, I gradually became more fearless, assertive and open with my ideas and opinions. I was not that afraid to make mistakes or take on more responsibilities. What even surprised me more is that I became more talkative. It was just unbelievable that a student’s involvement here at Wheaton could change their character.

What is your favorite aspect of being a leader in the Wheaton community?

I would say my favorite aspect of being a leader in the Wheaton community is the possibility to encounter some really amazing people along the way. During the summer orientation, whenever it came to events and activities planning, one of my co-workers Sophie, who is in the Class of 2023 and majoring in Film and New Media Studies, surprised me every single time with her pure talent and incredible, bold creativity.

What advice would you offer to new students about getting involved in clubs and activities at Wheaton, including the best way to find those that fit their interests?

I want to quote Wheaton’s motto, “That They May Have Life and Have it Abundantly.” So my advice to the new students regarding the joining of clubs and activities is to be abundant. Explore and embrace every possibility of yourself. You can join more than three clubs and attend a few meetings for a range of activities that might interest you, which enables you to determine your best fit. Over time, you can decide which clubs are most interesting and relevant to your strengths and commit to those while dropping the others. Joining a new activity with no previous experience or connections to anyone in the group can be daunting. No matter how intimidating, it is well worth giving a new experience a shot if it is something you’re interested in. You never know what could turn into a lifelong passion or possible career route. And don’t forget, you have your Wheaton fellows who are ready to help and support you along the journey. 

Through the Student Lens

Han is just one of the many talented students here at Wheaton. As parents and guardians, you are an integral part of our community. Through the Student Lens brings the campus to you, as seen through the eyes of our students, the many roles they play and experiences they gain during their time here at Wheaton.