Alumni from the class of 2017 all the way back to the class of 1952 returned to campus Sept. 29-30 for Wheaton’s annual Homecoming Weekend. Gathering on campus for their 25th reunion, the class of 1992 shared with the Record stories of fellowship, deep dish pizza outings and 80s karaoke with friends from the weekend. Below, ‘92 alumni reflect on the ways Wheaton has changed in the 25 years since their graduation.
Rachel Ban Tonkin, B.A. History; Homecoming Committee, Dining Hall Staff
M.A. in History, MLS (Master of Library Science), National Archives and Records Administration staff member
“The completed Beamer Center is lovely, and certainly felt like a hub of activity. In 1992 we used the cavernous cement lined space for square dances and dining service storage, so the completed center is a big change. … Most notable to me was the lack of students hanging out on a beautiful fall day. There were six or so students on Blanchard lawn, and a handful behind Blanchard. 25 years ago, the quad and other green spaces would have had folks studying, playing frisbee, sunbathing and generally enjoying the weather.
“All in all, Wheaton is really about the students and the professors, the growth and learning that goes on and the life long friendships — not so much about the physical campus. So while “amenities” change, the campus is still about the people and I felt very much home again.”
Diane Uy, B.A. Psychology; Wind Ensemble, Deaf Ministry, National City Ministries (now GUP)
Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Illinois at Chicago, volunteer with Safe Families for Children and Transformation Church in Trenton, NJ
“I enjoyed reconnecting with old friends who had participated in National City Ministries … and HNGR. I have always admired those who devoted themselves to missions and/or inner city ministry ever since college. However, at the reunion I was also able to talk with many people who have found ways to prioritize multicultural relationships and service to the poor in the middle of their regular lives and careers. It was encouraging to see the many ways that my Wheaton classmates have intentionally chosen to live for Christ and His kingdom in big and small ways.”
Bryan Perry, B.A. Sociology; Men’s Club Volleyball, National City Ministries, Diakonoi
Executive Director of the Allegheny Trail Alliance in Pennsylvania
“The years soften folks’ edges — literally, of course, but in a social sense, too — so it was easy to connect with folks who may not have been close friends at the time. There’s an underlying longing to return to your early 20’s — oh, the possibilities! — that can’t be satisfied, of course, and some resulting sadness at that, largely great joy at reliving a bit of the Wheaton community at its best.
“Campus felt familiar in most ways, but the Forum Wall was a shadow of its former self — probably a casualty of internet comment boards and social media, now the preferred method for anonymous kvetching. Additionally, campus seemed really empty of students — in our day, the Fischer volleyball court was full, the quad was a common gathering place and students would hang out in front of Blanchard. Even the library would have been packed. Is everyone glued to a screen in their dorm rooms now?”
Lance Kinzer, B.A. Political Science; Football, Debate, ROTC
Director of Policy and Government Relations for 1st Amendment Partnership
“While there are some new very nice buildings on campus, as far as I can tell the basic ethos seems largely unchanged: eager, earnest and intelligent students; engaged and compassionate professors; and an overall sense of community (which of course must include room for charitable disagreement), ideally suited as a place for young Christians to spend four critical years of growing in knowledge and love for our Savior.”
Derrick Steele, B.A. Christian Education and Ministry; Soccer, OCO Ministry Small Groups
Founder of Genlife Ministries in Detroit, Mich.
“This past weekend I saw vividly that it might have all been very different from what it had been the first time around — that the riches of unique, amazing, beautiful people that we passed by with little more than a “hi” 25 years ago might well have turned out to be the friendships of a lifetime… Back in those days there was, I’m sure, suspicion and presumption, pride and prejudice, superiority and self-loathing — all which kept us from finding one another. But I think we were all much smaller people then than we have grown to be now, and most of those old shadows have passed, and only the shared experience of the memory of big hair and pegged pants, Michael W. Smith wandering through the dining hall at lunch, and ‘isms, ists and anti-ismists’ in chapel, Ton Bundle in concert and floor raids at any hour of the night — these things that no one else in the world could ever quite understand — it is this that remains.”