Posted on Thursday, December 7, 2017
College is a time where most people learn to navigate the world around them and map out the different routes towards a successful future. While the journey to success is full of winding turns, a strong moral compass usually leads us to where we are meant to be. After graduation, alumna Teresa Whetstone ’14 soon discovered her compass pointed towards China.
Whetstone enlisted in Peace Corps China and spent two years serving in Wanzhou (wahn-joe), Chongqing (chohng-cheeng) in the People's Republic of China. There she spent most of her time teaching in the classroom or on-campus activities with students, many of whom have never interacted with someone not from China.
“Serving in Peace Corps China was a life changing experience,” Teresa shared. “Westminster promotes a culture of service and philanthropy which prepared me mentally to get through a lot of the struggles I faced over there.”
For Teresa, getting acclimated to life in China required some time to adjust to her new surroundings. After some in-country training, she found herself alone at her site and was reminded every time she stepped out of her apartment that she was a foreigner. Fortunately, the loneliness did not last long and she soon made many friends who were Chinese or foreigners like she was.
“Every excursion was a learning experience,” she said. “Most people, strangers, were kind and patient and helpful.”
Beyond her many learning experiences, service and teaching, Teresa gained valuable language and life skills that she brought home with her to the states. Teresa currently resides in the Cleveland, Ohio, area completing a pre-med post baccalaureate program at Cleveland State University. She plans to start medical school by the fall of 2020.
Teresa claims it was a Westminster connection that set her on the path to medical school.
“Several years ago, I had the opportunity to serve as a translator for a medical mission in Guatemala thanks to Ben Nelson ’06 connecting me to the Mission of Love,” she explained. “It completely changed my life. His mother, Dr. Kathie Nelson, encouraged me to look at becoming a doctor and over the past three years, that seed of a thought has grown into a sprout.”
As she continues to blossom, Teresa is grateful for the roots she planted at Westminster. Even though she is not pursuing a career directly related to her fields of study, Teresa hopes to employ her liberal arts training to work with immigrant and migrant populations in the U.S. Most importantly, Teresa says the most inspiring experience she had at Westminster was studying under so many strong and intelligent women who are completely unafraid to call “it as they see it.”
“In a world where strong women are told that they should sit down and be quiet, studying under and working alongside professors like Drs. Shannon Smithey, Bethany Hicok, Kristianne Vaccaro and Kristenne Robison was truly inspiring,” Teresa noted. “They work hard and demonstrate what is it to be unapologetic for being the outspoken, well-read women that they are.”
*photo courtesy of Teresa Whetstone