“I like to think that my biggest asset in the classroom is to serve as a motivator and help them discover their true creative potential.”
It was a unique amenity on campus that brought Cece Wheeler to Thomas Nelson; she wanted access to the school's darkroom. Raised in a military family, she graduated high school while living in Hampton and decided to stay in the region for college. During her studies in Mass Communication and Electronics at Virginia Commonwealth University, Wheeler discovered a passion for photography. "I love being in the darkroom," she says. "When I discovered Thomas Nelson had a darkroom, I audited classes to use it." She began a career as a newspaper reporter, then became a television producer, but didn't directly set out to teach. After auditing courses at Thomas Nelson, Wheeler was asked to take over as instructor for a visual arts class when the instructor died unexpectedly.
Teaching since 2001, Wheeler has been a part of growing multiple new opportunities for students to learn and exhibit their work. She founded the Student Film Festival, which held its 16th installment in April, and established the Visual Arts Gallery in Templin Hall. She began a student art club, which has evolved into a design club. Wheeler also created the visiting artist program which brings nationally-known artists to campus. Students have the opportunity to view artists' work and attend workshops run by the artists. Wheeler currently teaches the Digital Imaging, Video Production, Motion Graphics and Advertising Design courses. She's also developing a new certificate program in Advanced Video Production, a skill that several local employers have been looking for in new employees in recent years.
Through her years at Thomas Nelson, Wheeler has been diligent about keeping in contact with graduates who are working in the field as graphic designers or videographers. Not only is it rewarding to see their success, it is beneficial for graduates to visit classes and share their career success with current students. She feels it is important that her students finish school knowing that their futures are unlimited if they work hard and have confidence. Wheeler says, "I like to think that my biggest asset in the classroom is to serve as a motivator and help them discover their true creative potential."