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Eleanor Wefing ’23.
As far back as middle school, Eleanor Wefing ’23 loved working with people who have developmental disabilities. One big reason she chose Hamilton was its off-campus study program at the New England Center for Children, which serves people with autism.

Wefing came to Hamilton intending to pursue a premed track or maybe neuroscience or psychology, but as she encountered students who’d developed a clear idea of their interests and carved out a corresponding course of study, she reexamined her own potential path. She talked freely with her professors about what she liked and didn’t like, and consulted her first-year advisor for help determining which courses, however unexpected, fit her interests — and how to make the most of her studies. With that support, she eased her out of her comfort zone to explore academically. 

“That’s been a really big part of my experience at Hamilton — an ability to get to know what I’m interested in, which has changed a lot since freshman year, so I think being on campus has really helped me get to that ‘know thyself’ point.”

As it worked out, she majored in sociology; internships and volunteering have defined her time at Hamilton. At the New England Center, she interns 20 hours a week with students in a classroom.

Stephanie Kall '19
A hippotherapy session at the nearby Root Farm. Photo: Nancy L. Ford

On campus, she was a COOP service intern for two years, where her responsibilities included tutoring at the ABC House. She’s volunteered at Root Farm, where people with disabilities learn to ride horses. At Double H Ranch, she helped children with serious and chronic illness learn to ski. With the student organization HAAND, she supported children who have autism. And there’s more: volunteering at Pathfinder Village, which serves adults with Down syndrome; and at Tradewinds Education Center for young people with developmental or behavioral disabilities. Wefing has also been a Hamilton orientation leader.

In the spring semester, she’ll study in Stockholm, focusing on sociology coursework. Not surprisingly, she’s working to line up an internship there. As for the long term, Wefing is still exploring. 

“I came in feeling pretty strongly that I wanted to do some kind of work with people with developmental disabilities in the future, and I definitely still want to keep that in mind. But I’m open to trying different things. I really have enjoyed working with nonprofits and learning about education, and especially working in the internship right now [at the center],” she said. “It’s a field I want to continue exploring, but I’m not sure exactly what area I want to go into. And I definitely want to continue to try more things in the future, in whatever capacity that might be.”

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