Over the past four years, Tyler Charleston has learned that God provides, and often in unexpected and unplanned ways. Currently a senior at Wheaton College in Illinois, Tyler never pictured his life being what it is today. Tyler says, “If you would have asked me ten years ago if I were to be here at Wheaton, the Harvard of evangelical schools, ten years ago I was definitely afraid of leaving home. I definitely wouldn’t have guessed I’d be here at Wheaton.”
Yet here he is, only a little over a semester away from graduating with a degree in Communications.
Looking back on his time at Wheaton, Tyler expresses happiness and contentment with his college decision. But how does someone who is terrified of leaving home actually end up at college? For Tyler, it was a leap of faith mixed with encouragement from people who had gone before him. At his New England high school, Tyler had three teachers who were not only Wheaton grads, but also important mentors in his life. Through their example, Tyler was able to realize that he, too, could pursue an education at Wheaton. Even though he was never at the top of his class academically, he figured, “Why not?”
So Tyler gave it a shot and was accepted into Wheaton immediately.
Once at Wheaton, Tyler found some old friends in classes ahead of him who helped him feel welcomed and at home. But little did he know that he was beginning a time of incredible spiritual growth and transformation. Even though Tyler attended a Christian high school, he still believes that his spiritual development has seen the most growth since being at Wheaton.
When he first started at Wheaton, he was immediately impressed by the way that his college classmates took their faith seriously, and he was inspired to do the same. Comparing college to his high school experience, Tyler says that, “We didn’t lose our faith [in high school], but we all sort of stopped taking it seriously. It became very routine.” Seeing people who had not come from the same Christian background, but were so intentional about growing in their faith; “That was what really helped me develop as a Christian,” Tyler says.
Tyler began his Wheaton career as a Business/Econ major, mostly because his father encouraged him to choose something practical so that he could have a job following graduation. At first, Tyler saw the logic behind this. But as time went on, he realized that he didn’t really have a passion for business. Tyler says, “I realized that, yes, those things are totally practical, but the Lord provides. Do what you love and use that to the glory of God.”
Throughout his studies as a Communications major, Tyler began to embrace learning again. A self-professed slacker, he never truly loved reading and writing until he started taking classes in the Communications department and especially the Christian Education department.
One specific professor, Dr. Jerry Root, helped kindle Tyler’s love for C.S. Lewis’ work. Tyler says that he has “become the cliche Wheaton student, reading C.S. Lewis nonstop.” This love for reading is something that Tyler plans to carry with him after graduation. He is considering a career in journalism or even working as an editor at a publishing company.
Tyler has such a passion for reading
that if there was one thing he could change about his time at Wheaton, it would be his major. He would choose an English literature major instead of communications.
No college experience is perfect, but Tyler’s allowed him to step far out of his comfort zone so that he could undergo incredible social, academic, and spiritual growth. One particular story sticks out in Tyler’s mind as he reflects on the last four years. This past September, he attended his former RA’s wedding with a group of friends. In Tyler’s words, “It was as much of an emotional experience as I’ve had in a very long time, and it was great to share that with some great brothers in Christ.”
The wedding was not only a milestone for Tyler’s friend, but for Tyler himself, as it signified the closing of an important chapter in his life.
As he prepares to leave Wheaton and venture out into the world, Tyler leaves some valuable wisdom for students that may just be starting their college career: “Don’t be too busy to be with people. College is the one time in your life when you get to choose how busy you want to be. Where you dedicate your time shows what matters to you, so let that time be with the people you love.”
Tyler plans to spend the rest of his life with the people he loves. He hopes to have a career that will allow him to continue his passion for reading and writing, as well as live close to his family in New England. He aspires to having his a family of his own someday, and hopes that his current girlfriend will be a part of his future.