Through the Student Lens – An inside view of student life

As students (and families) adjust to an altered Wheaton life, preceptors—student staff trained to assist students in academic life—are now more than ever, one of our most valuable student resources. How do these experienced Wheaton students navigate this new landscape and how are they staying engaged? Meet one of our amazing campus preceptors and see Wheaton Through the Student Lens.

Mia Murray ’22

Major/Minor: Environmental Science (biology concentration) Major and Hispanic Studies Minor
Hometown: Kennebunkport, Maine

What clubs, activities, committees, or employment are you involved in at Wheaton and how have these activities kept you engaged and continued during these times?
I am a preceptor, a member of the Women’s Lacrosse team and an executive board member for the May Fellows Program. With fall ball starting, being back on the field feels like the closest thing to normalcy. This summer, I had the opportunity to be a co-facilitator for the Wheaton Inclusive Stem Excellence (WISE) Summer Lecture Series and Seminar where I got the amazing opportunity to meet with faculty I would have never met, collaborate with fellow students and have conversations across difference about the many problems people face every day in the United States. Currently, I am also working on my own project, Allyship within Athletics, with my fellow teammate, Jess Cully ’22. With a stipend provided by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant through WISE, we are creating programming for black and non-black student athletes on how the athletic department can have more conversations surrounding diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.

How have you adapted to the changing structure of your coursework and the need to maintain a safe and healthy community at Wheaton?
I think the pandemic has definitely provided a unique set of obstacles and these first few weeks have definitely been an adjustment. I have a nice balance of online and in-person classes so creating a schedule that gives me enough time away from screens has actually been a secret blessing in disguise. With the library having limited hours, I have been able to utilize more outdoor learning areas while the weather has been nice and this has also allowed me to see people from a distance.

What do you recommend students should do to stay motivated and connect with their peers, faculty and other programs and resources at Wheaton during this time?
I think even though in person connections are few and far between these days, it’s super important that when you have an opportunity to interact with people in person—in class, getting food, or in the Dimple—say, “Hi,” make small talk, and take advantage of the few opportunities to talk face to face. For students, especially first years, take advantage of professors office hours to meet with professors one on one so they can get to know you. Form study groups with other students in your class and whether it’s a group chat or through Zoom meetings, it’s so nice to have a cohort of other people who all are on the same page and can hold each other accountable. In terms of staying connected, programming through the Marshal Center, Student Government Association (SGA) and SAIL is available and these groups want students to join and take advantage of their offerings. In terms of resources, take advantage of platforms like Handshake, and pay attention to faculty/major websites for internship and research opportunities.

Can you think of a specific time when a faculty or staff member helped you successfully navigate any challenges that the pandemic may have brought, and what did that look like?
I was really fortunate to have a lot of great professors last spring and this semester that have been super amazing in helping me navigate schoolwork and still taking advantage of opportunities throughout the pandemic. Professor Knowlton and Professor Shumway from the Biology Department helped me with navigating internship and class experiences and took time out of their days to talk about what is out there. Additionally, during the summer, the WISE Leadership Team that put on the Summer Lecture Series and Seminar were able to cure my boredom for the last five weeks of the summer by creating leadership opportunities for myself and other students to learn about intergroup dialogue and how to facilitate conversations.

What are some of the silver linings and things you would not have done or accomplished if it wasn’t for the pandemic and things continued as “normal’?
A lot of things were cancelled this summer, but as a result of this I was able to spend more time at home and enjoy just being in my hometown which is something I have not had the chance to do in a long time. My brothers and I are involved in a lot of sports, so usually everyone is all over the place. But because we were all stuck at home, we were able to have family dinners and go to the beach together, which has not happened in forever. Now that traveling abroad is no longer an option, I was also able to enjoy playing another fall ball season with my team, which feels awesome to be back on the field with my teammates and coaches.

What is one thing you look forward to again someday at Wheaton as we move through the pandemic and return to some type of normalcy in the future?
This summer was definitely a wake-up call for a lot of people when it came to the true nature of our political and social climate. I think as we return back to normalcy here at Wheaton, one thing I look forward to is how we will continue to have these crucial conversations around race, the climate crisis and healthcare disparities in person and how coming together physically will leave an even bigger impact on the community.

Through the Student Lens

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