ETHAN JONES M.A. ’17 knows something of the winding vocational path that Wheaton students can face.
He’s traversed one himself.
Jones went through four majors at John Brown University before receiving a B.A. in biblical and theological studies with a double major in history. Then followed three years in Chick-fil-A’s management training program, along with the realization that restaurant management wasn’t a good fit for his young and soon to be growing family.
Finally, Ethan landed at Wheaton College, where he became a Graduate Resident Assistant in Terrace Apartments and earned his M.A. in Christian Formation and Ministry— along with the department’s highest honor—last May. At each stop along the way, he learned invaluable lessons about God’s calling and his own skills, interests, and values, Ethan says, “I felt the world needed the best version of me.”
“For any student who struggles,” Ethan adds, “I can relate.”
Now Ethan is one of five new career coaches with the Center for Vocation and Career (CVC). Each coach is embedded in a specific academic area in order to build relationships and provide targeted help and insights to student career-seekers and faculty. Ethan’s areas are Humanities and Communication.
“What gets me up in the morning is being able to share the good news with students that they are all called,” Ethan says. “There is a plethora of options, not just one path.”
Along with Ethan, here are the other career coaches:
SARAH FRANKLIN CROSE ’02, M.A. ’06
Sarah serves as Senior Career Coach and works with the Art and Music departments, along with undergraduate and graduate psychology students. Sarah’s journey includes working as Wheaton’s young alumni director and also as a private counselor after receiving a second master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.
EMILEE WENZ WEATHERRED ’15
Emilee joins the CVC after two years in the insurance world. Upon graduating with a B.A. in business/economics, Emilee worked for Allstate and later moved to Broadspire, where she worked for alumnus Mark DeLew ’08 in data analytics. Emilee serves in Business/Economics, Math/Computer Science, and Political Science/ International Relations.
Ozias taught English as a second language and also served with a local church in South Korea. After earning degrees from Emmanuel College and Liberty University, he worked in higher education and in management roles. He serves the Christian Education, Bible and Theology (including graduate programs), Anthropology/Sociology, Education (including TESOL and M.A.T.), and Urban Studies departments.
LINDSAY COPLER AJA ’15
Lindsay comes to the CVC from the food and beverage industry where she worked with both chemists and biologists. She earned her Wheaton degree in Environmental Science and will be working with students in that ma jor as well as Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Geology, and Physics.
Of course, new staff are just part of the exciting developments at the CVC. While the $4 million from the From the Heart, For the Kingdom capital campaign is intended to cover programming and personnel needs, there are also plans for a new address for the CVC, which is not included in the current capital campaign.
If the necessary financial support is secured, the change in venue will be dramatic. The old, out-of-the-way, poorly lighted upstairs location will give way to sparkling, high-tech facilities that will be nearly three times the current cramped 1,500 square feet. Students using an adjacent diagonal hallway will see the bright, inviting space through floor-to-ceiling glass walls.
“We know from best practice research at some of the best colleges that, if you have the career center in a high-traffic area for students,” CVC Director Dee Pierce MA ’17 says, “it leads to a dramatic increase in engagement.”
When students enter the new lobby, they will be greeted and directed by student CVC Ambassadors, and an inviting coffee bar will encourage them to settle down and get acquainted. Pierce notes, “Students do really well learning from each other.”
Other features may include an open workspace for career coaches to encourage them to get out of the office and mix with their respective departments as much as possible; a conference room and an area for student clubs; interview rooms; and a hospitality room for visiting employers and alumni.
Pierce says the planned changes at the CVC will help produce increased levels of satisfaction as students find their places on the career path more quickly. Uncovering the practical connections between the classroom and the office, she believes, will positively impact alumni engagement, admissions, and even academic engagement.
“I really feel,” she says, “that the work we’re doing is catalytic for the institution.”
For Ethan, helping students with their career paths is much more than a job.
“When I help students understand what God says about vocation,” he says, “it takes the pressure off. They realize that lots of great possibilities exist, and God’s going to go with them wherever they go.”