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Photo courtesy of Noreen Owens Photography

Hartland High School senior Nina Butts has always had a passion for storytelling. Acting and writing, whether creative or journalistic, are Nina’s favorite hobbies and she practices them nearly every day. Her hard work paid off at Olivet College’s Global Citizen Honors scholarship competition.

More than 80 of OC’s best and brightest applicants registered for the invitation-only event to participate in an essay competition for a full-tuition scholarship and other scholarship opportunities. Students hailed from 66 high schools in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Ontario, Canada, and boasted an impressive average grade point average of 3.74, SAT score of 1120, and ACT score of 24.6, but it was Nina who stood out.

A True Global Citizen

The Global Citizen Honors Program (GCHP) is designed for the student who wishes to continue demonstrating creativity and leadership within the framework of Individual and Social Responsibility. GCHP members are provided opportunities to investigate global, interdisciplinary issues by inquiring into the theories and philosophical underpinnings of complex social issues.

Born in China and adopted by Lance and Dawn Butts, Nina has developed a rich worldview and embraces diversity, making her a perfect fit for GCHP. She was hesitant to register for the scholarship competition at first, unsure if she would shine because of her naturally shy personality, but hasn’t looked back.

“I received an email about the GCHP scholarship competition, but was uneasy about it at first since I did not know much about Olivet College. My parents encouraged me to go, and of course, I have not regretted my decision to participate,” Nina explained. “We were asked to write around the theme of risk, and I knew my life had been involved with that word since the beginning. I wrote about being one of the few Asian students in my school district, and how that developed and changed my worldview.”

In her essay, Nina spoke of her experience taking risks, including standing up for herself and auditioning for roles in her community theater productions and school musicals. She says there’s always an element of fear when taking a risk, but she’s learned that the outcome after a risk is almost always worth feeling uncomfortable.

“I am proud of myself for taking risks,” Nina wrote in her essay. “They might be small risks, like talking to someone I don’t know or just doing the right thing, but it feels like a hopeful leap off the edge of a cliff. Sometimes I land, sometimes I don’t. In the end, what I do after the fall is what matters. And now, just one more cliff rises under my feet before the next chapter of my life beings, and as I take the first step that becomes the leap off that cliff, I don’t fear the fall.”

Photo courtesy of Noreen Owens Photography

Oxford Awaits

An apprehensive start has since turned into Nina’s dream come true and a perfect match. Benefits of GCHP include priority class registration, honors seminar, honors courses, world languages, the honors thesis, a special office space, events throughout the year and honors graduation recognition. However, Nina is most looking forward to study abroad opportunities, like the chance to become a student at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

“I was really fascinated by the opportunities Olivet was able to give me, especially the opportunity to study at Oxford University,” Nina exclaimed. “I remember when I was a freshman in high school I used to tell people I wanted to study at Oxford, but I never believed that opportunity would actually come to me.”

Boundless Opportunities

Nina’s excitement doesn’t end there. She’s also looking forward to connecting with other Comets entering the Class of 2022 and has already visited campus twice, enjoying the chance to meet her future classmates and professors. Hoping to turn her passion into a career, Nina is interested in professional writing and is exploring the journalism and mass communication (JMC) major. Someday, she hopes to be able to publish her own young adult fiction series or write movie-adapted screenplays based on her favorite books. In the nearer future, Nina is eager to learn more about OC’s student publications, like the Echo newspaper and Garfield Lake Review literary and art magazine.

“I’ve already met with a few of the English professors, as well as Joanne Williams, associate professor of JMC and adviser of the Echo. It was nice being able to meet my possible future professors and I’ve had great experiences on campus already – everyone seems very welcoming!” Nina said. “In addition, my admissions representative, Lauren Kirkham, has been very supportive and helpful, and I’ve felt very comfortable about my future at Olivet thanks to her.”

Nina’s parents added that they couldn’t be prouder of her, and are equally excited for the new opportunities Nina will have as a Comet. “Dawn and I are still pinching ourselves. Every time we think about it we tear up,” said Nina’s father, Lance. “The confidence and opportunities the scholarship offers Nina are immeasurable, and I am finding it nearly impossible to express how excited we are for her future. A giant thank you to Olivet College. We really appreciate this award.”

Future Comet

Nina is still battling the disbelief that she earned the scholarship and some of her biggest dreams have come true. She was at drama rehearsal when she received the congratulatory call that her essay had been selected as the winner. Nina said she was in awe and didn’t know what to say. Once it sunk in, she was thrilled and couldn’t wait to share the news with her drama group.

“I’m hoping Olivet will help me achieve my goals in any way possible,” Nina added. “I am so excited to meet new people and have amazing experiences in college. My high school and my town have always been small and not particularly diverse, so I am really looking forward to meeting other people from all different backgrounds and expanding my worldview.”

Learn more about GCHP and Olivet College by attending an upcoming admissions event or visiting campus and requesting to check out the program. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu for more information.

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