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A single opportunity — something first-year student Brooke Roberts knows can change everything. For the Navy veteran, it was the opportunity to attend Olivet College and pursue her dream of becoming a physical therapist.

Brooke Roberts, Future Physical Therapist

During her time in high school, Brooke discovered her love for academics and even began dual enrollment. While she thought she had found her niche in the criminal justice field, Brooke also had dreams to see the world and wanted more from life. Suddenly, she found herself in a Navy recruiting office and within a week, she had quit her job, moved out of her apartment, withdrawn from classes and was ready to attend boot camp.

“One day it just hit me — I didn’t want to be stuck in the same zip code for my entire life,” Brooke explained. “I knew joining the military would help me see new places while also providing a better future for myself.”

Brooke served from 2011 to 2017, holding the role of CM2, or construction mechanic second class. Thanks to her time in the Navy, Brooke also gained a greater appreciation for fitness, which helped her get into the best shape of her life, and led her to discover diving as a hobby while stationed in Guam.

In addition, it was also through the Navy that Brooke’s career goals shifted from criminal justice to physical therapy. Unfortunately, Brooke suffered several physical issues while serving and was placed in physical therapy to help her recover. Inspired by the positive experience she had during her treatment, Brooke is now pursuing her dream of becoming a physical therapist.

The Opportunity

While life doesn’t always go as planned, Brooke says she’s thankful for the way everything worked out now. “At first, I wanted to go into physical therapy to learn how to fix myself,” Brooke said. “I came in contact with a really good group of physical therapists at the Navy hospital in Guam. They were always in a good mood and put off positive vibes, and it made me happy to be there. They always made me feel better even when I was in pain, and I learned that physical therapy is more than physical — it’s also mental.

“When you can change someone emotionally, it will help them recover physically as well. Someone who wants to get better will work at it. Physical therapists have the opportunity to get creative in treatments, and no two days or two patients are ever the same. I’m really looking forward to motivating people and helping others in that way.”

While stationed in Guam, Brooke was so excited to pursue her newfound passion for physical therapy that she started researching schools and programs, knowing she’d have just a few weeks to readjust to civilian life before classes began. In January, she started classes at community college, but when she learned of Olivet College and all of the resources offered to veterans, Brooke jumped at a transfer and became a Comet this fall.

“I was actually looking into some other programs at schools in Michigan and planning to use the GI Bill to help me afford college when I learned about OC’s Veterans Scholarship, equal to 50 percent of tuition,” Brooke explained. “Not only are there scholarships and great financial resources to veterans, but Olivet also does so much more, including offering great advisers who understand veterans’ needs.”

Brooke hasn’t looked back since her transfer. She considers Andrea Terry, director of admissions specializing in transfer students, and Health and Human Performance faculty instant supporters and some of the easiest people to connect with on campus. “Everyone has been extremely helpful and great to work with. You can definitely tell they care,” Brooke said. In addition, she’s looking for ways to get involved on campus, naturally drawn to the Veterans Advocacy Group, and is eager to connect with others who have similar experiences as her.

What it Means to be a Comet

Brooke with the Veterans Advocacy Group

For the future, Brooke has no doubt she’s on the right track and is gearing up for graduate school. She says it’s thanks to Olivet College that she’s able to have this confidence. Plus, Brooke is also seeking out her next dive, hoping to check out the Great Lakes from below.

“Regardless of veteran status, I encourage everyone to check out Olivet College, but for veterans specifically, I want others to know that OC always does everything they can for veterans,” Brooke emphasized. “I love the small school and I love the teachers — and how easy it is to communicate with them. If you have a question, it is always easy to get an answer because teachers get back to you right away, and that’s just awesome.”

Learn more about Olivet College and opportunities for student-veterans, active duty military personnel, military spouses and military dependents by scheduling a campus visit or contacting the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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