It's often said that God works in mysterious ways, and no one knows that better than 1998 Huntington University graduate Ross Wheeler. After graduating from high school, Ross knew what he wanted to do: Study theater. The only problem was that he didn’t know what college to attend until a friend opened his eyes to Huntington.
"I was looking for a school in which I could not only learn the tools of acting, but also relate my faith with the world of theatre," Ross said.
"The balance of spirituality and education were very important to me. I learned about Huntington University from a friend who had decided to attend, so I took a tour of the campus, and after that, I was sold. Among Christian colleges, Huntington clearly has the best theater program."
Theatre wasn’t the only reason for Ross’ decision to attend Huntington University; he also wanted a school that brought God into its courses.
"If I had wanted to study just theater, I would have gone to a bigger school — perhaps one with a recognized name in the business," he said. "But it was important to me to inject faith into the curriculum. At Huntington University, I was able to deal with the issues that were important to me in a caring and nurturing environment.
"I have to give kudos to the faculty for its unsurpassed enthusiasm and willingness to help the students excel," Ross continues. "I wasn’t always the best student, but my professors always helped me to see my potential and encouraged me to strive for more.
"The high faculty-to-student ratio fosters such a caring environment. The larger a school is, the more difficult it is for the faculty and staff to reach the students in an individual manner. It’s very difficult to describe the abundance of care and respect that fills the Huntington campus. It’s truly like no other place I’ve ever been."
From his freshman year through his senior year, Ross immersed himself in the program. Trying to do a little bit of everything, he participated in some capacity in all but three of the plays presented while he was at Huntington. "I worked as a carpenter, electrician, and stage manager. They even allowed me to be a co-scenic designer of ‘Steel Magnolias,’" Ross said.
"Through my course work, I was also able to direct ‘PVT Wars’ for the One Act Play Festival and perform in numerous productions."
After graduation, Ross spent a year at the university working in the theater department as assistant technical director and production manager before leaving to act in Chicago’s longest-running musical, "Forever Plaid." After several years in the cast, including a stint performing in Las Vegas, Ross completed his final season with "Forever Plaid."
Although he’s uncertain where God may lead him next, he’s ready for whatever the future may hold.
"Huntington University gave me the strength not to compromise my beliefs," he said. "I’ve dealt with my doubts and I’m ready to take on the world."
And, for those potential students who are thinking of attending Huntington, Ross gives this advice: "Never again will you be able to saturate yourself in such a loving and nurturing atmosphere. Take advantage of the opportunities around you and learn as much as you can. Success can be reached by mere determination. The skills you already have will lead you to the skills necessary to complete your goals. Learn for the sake of learning. You will use the concepts you’re learning. I promise."
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