The Road Less Traveled

Jordan Wheeden ’23 does things her own way. Never following the path of least resistance or falling in line with whatever everyone else is doing, Wheeden blazes her own trail in life.

Wheeden came to Colby-Sawyer College in the fall of 2019 intending to major in biology. Realizing this major might not be the perfect fit for her, she decided to create her own program and switched to a self-designed major that allowed her to build a curriculum that centered on her interests. Wheeden now double majors in studio art (photography) and a self-designed major with a focus on business, biology and psychology. This allows her the opportunity for in-depth study in multiple academic areas.

Another thing Wheeden took into her own hands was the responsibility of training her own service animal. During her sophomore year, she decided that owning a service animal would be beneficial, though she urges others to exhaust all other options before committing to getting a service animal. “It is difficult always having a dog in tow,” she said. “It is not fun. I can’t go places without the dog. It is a medical necessity. It was a last resort.”

Rather than purchase a trained service animal, Wheeden took it upon herself to research types of dogs, the skills that can be trained and different breeders. She was looking for a dog that was calm, easy going, attentive and easily trainable. Once she found a Labrador Retriever puppy, she began the training process immediately. She used a mark-and-reward system for training her dog, Addison. The training involved luring Addison in certain positions and then repeating, and Wheeden admits that it was a lot of work for both her and Addison. “I would 100% self-train again, but I would not push her so quickly,” Wheeden said. “I would get her basics done well and do minimal public access.”

Another difference that sets Wheeden apart from her peers at CSC is the fact that for the three years she was a Resident Assistant on campus, she remained in first-year housing. Though most students opt to move into housing for returning students, Wheeden enjoyed being available for these new students each year.

As Wheeden closes in on her time at CSC, she has both short-term and long-term goals for herself. After graduation, she hopes to find a job as an area coordinator and continue her work with students. Her long-term goals include becoming a journalistic photographer, a position in which she can travel and take photos. She would also love to continue work as a dog trainer on a volunteer basis.

Wherever life takes her, Wheeden is certain to continue to advocate for herself and find ways to create her own path — a path that makes her happy.

Please follow @jordanmayphotography on Instagram to check out some of Wheeden’s photography.