Through the Student Lens – The Compass Curriculum

Want learn more about the Compass Curriculum from a student’s perspective? Take a look through the student lens.

Sasha Herman ’20
Double Major: Sociology/Hispanic Studies & Women’s and Gender Studies minor
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

How did you become a student representative on the curriculum implementation team and what is your role?

I was invited to participate as a student representative on the implementation team by Provost Renee White. I have been involved in the Budget and Planning Committee for three years as a student representative, which introduced me to faculty, staff, and student collaborative committee work. Additionally, I work closely with Professor Karen McCormack, one of the chairs of the Compass Curriculum implementation team, as my Sociology honors thesis advisor. She has served as a wonderful mentor and support system for me since my sophomore year, and I was excited to work alongside her on the implementation team. My role on the team involves student outreach and communicating the needs and opinions of the student body to the implementation team regarding the curriculum. As a preceptor, I reflect on my experiences working with and advising first year students in order to contribute to our discussions. Additionally, I use my own experiences, and the experiences of my friends and classmates to inform our conversations.

What excites you most about the Compass Curriculum?
What excites me most about the Compass Curriculum is that it is designed to excite students! The curriculum allows students to not only pursue their academic interests, but construct their own individual pathways to achieve a multidisciplinary and involved understanding of those interests. Through co-taught classes reliant on faculty collaboration within the first-year experience and the expectation to engage in an immersive sophomore experience, the Compass Curriculum creates excitement about learning, which is one of the most valuable qualities of the curriculum. Students are able to make intentional decisions about their own education, empowered by the ability to define their academic and co-curricular experiences at Wheaton College simply based on what they are passionate about, and the Compass Curriculum encourages them and supports them in doing so.

What are some of the benefits of the Compass Curriculum for current Wheaton students? What do you feel is the most valuable part of the Compass Curriculum?
The Compass Curriculum empowers students to make the most out of their education while at Wheaton, as the curriculum was designed to reflect the innovative and involved nature of the campus community. The openness of the curriculum allows students to explore their diverse interests, while upholding the expectation that students will approach each field through a lens of interdisciplinarity and engagement beyond the classroom. The Compass Curriculum places each individual student at the center of their own academic experience with the goal of creating excitement and enthusiasm for learning, which is one of the most valuable aspects of the curriculum. Students are enabled to design their own pathways throughout their time here, motivated by their interests, curiosities, and passions. Overall, I believe that the most valuable aspects of the curriculum are the ways in which it empowers and excites students to become leaders in their own education.

Do you consider your participation on the implementation team is an experiential learning experience, and what do you feel you learned from it?
I absolutely believe that my participation on the implementation team is an experiential learning experience. It is both challenging and rewarding, being able to collaborate with staff and faculty, while being an advocate for Wheaton College students. It was an incredible exercise in consistently challenging ourselves as a team to recognize the voices and perspectives not present in the room, and how to involve them in order to produce a curriculum that could be not only accommodating, but enriching for every student. While brainstorming and deliberating, I learned how to articulate and express my opinions, being both understanding and willing to compromise while also thinking critically about each and every aspect of conversation. Although it is initially intimidating to participate (and occasionally disagree with) a team of staff and faculty, I learned how to advocate for myself and my peers, largely in part due to the warm and supportive nature of the faculty and staff on the implementation team, who continue to invite and welcome student opinions.

How do you think Wheaton and the Compass Curriculum help to set students up for success post-graduation? How do you think your experience on the implementation team will help you post-college?
Wheaton does a tremendous job in providing countless opportunities for students to become leaders on campus, gaining skills that become both marketable and invaluable in a job search or workplace setting. Students are expected to become involved on campus through the many clubs and organizations, and off campus through pursuing internship and community service opportunities. I believe that one of the reasons why students are so successful after graduation is because Wheaton is such a friendly and close knit community, it is everyone’s friends and classmates that go on to accomplish incredible achievements post-graduation, such as various competitive graduate programs, Fulbrights and Watsons. This creates a culture of support as well as an expectation that Wheaton students are able to go on and do wonderful things. The Compass Curriculum emphasizes and strengthens what Wheaton students are already good at: being leaders. The curriculum allows for students to have as much influence over their academic careers as they do over campus as a whole. As students learn to navigate the curriculum with intentionality, they become active in their own education. The role of decision-making in the Compass Curriculum prepares students to be independent thinkers post-graduation, while also being skilled in communication, collaboration, and multidisciplinary thinking.

My own experience on the implementation team has allowed me to gain insight into higher education, which heavily relates to my interest in sociology. I thoroughly enjoyed the many hours spent brainstorming and problem solving in order to design and implement the Compass Curriculum. Working in a committee setting has strengthened my ability to communicate and articulate my thoughts. I have also learned how to defend my opinions, challenge my own opinions, and identify ways to expand my own thinking to include other opinions and perspectives as well. Being able to serve as an effective committee member and advocate is a skill that is applicable to numerous professions and post-graduate opportunities, and I am excited for the chance to continue.

Through the Student Lens

Sasha is one of the many engaging and amazing students here at Wheaton. As parents, 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 the time here at Wheaton.