The top graduating seniors with the highest grade point average who completed all coursework through Olivet College are annually honored with the Donald A. Morris Academic Excellence Award. In addition, professors chosen by the students as most influential are also honored. Congratulations to the following students and professors.
Hometown: South Haven
Future plans: To have a career in the accounting industry and to obtain my CPA License.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: My time with the Olivet College band program and my Greek house, Alpha Lambda Epsilon.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Jackie Looser
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Professor Looser was one of my accounting professors and my academic adviser. She has always been very supportive and encouraging during my time at Olivet.
Jackie Looser, assistant professor of accounting, has served Olivet College since 2014, first as the chief financial officer for three years before transitioning to the faculty. Professor Looser specializes in accounting, combining her two biggest passions, mentoring young minds and finances.
“Dynamic motivational speaker Les Brown stated, ‘The difference between setting a goal and achieving it is in having a good plan and working it.’ Jenna is a shining example of the truth of this quote. Jenna set her goal to finish at the top tier of her class and to earn enough credits to sit for the CPA test, and she has done that exhibiting academic prowess and integrity. In her first accounting class, Jenna was quick to help her fellow classmates understand the material and was often a leader in the study groups. Since that first semester, Jenna has blossomed into an amazing professional. I have watched Jenna go from being shy and reserved around others to being a leader within the accounting program. She has not only excelled in academics, but was also involved on campus and always looked to help others. I have no doubt she will be a success in whatever path she pursues.” — Professor Looser
Hometown: Dorchester, Ontario, Canada
Major: Exercise Science
Future plans: I plan to take a short period of time to work until I attend graduate school. I do not know whether I want to get my master’s degree in kinesiology and/or special education, but I have always had a passion for teaching and helping people learn. My ultimate dream and career goal is to become a professor to help inspire others to learn, the way Olivet has done for me.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: Olivet has been my home over the last four years. I have met so many amazing people who have helped me become the person I am today. Everyone at Olivet is a family, and as I became more involved, I was entirely grateful for the environment Olivet is cultivating. I will most remember all the wonderful relationships I have built on campus with faculty and staff and my amazing team, family and friends. Olivet became my home, and I shall always remember the amazing times I have spent here.
Most influential faculty member: Professor KayDee Perry
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Throughout my college career, Professor Perry has not only been my mentor, but she has become part of my family. I knew no matter what I was facing, I could turn to Professor Perry for support, love and sometimes even a little tough love to get me where I needed to go. Professor Perry has inspired me to continue my education and become a professor as she has shown me her passion, love and dedication to her students. Professor Perry has always encouraged me to push myself and test my limits to see what I am capable of. She has taught me life lessons that I will carry with me forever.
KayDee Perry, assistant professor of health and human performance, has served Olivet College since 2012, teaching a number of physical education courses, as well as math and self and community. Professor Perry goes beyond her teaching duties to serve as a positive and uplifting influence every day.
“As a student and an athlete, Nicole excelled. She was dedicated to her studies, devoted extra time in her work when needed, asked questions in class and engaged with our department outside of class. She has a desire to constantly grow and evolve — she always wants to become better. This was evident as a student-athlete, too. She has earned numerous recognitions as a member of our golf team where she was also a captain. Nicole is a leader — she is PLI fellow, past president of the HHP Department’s honor society PEK, she assisted with academic advising and always offered to help our department. In her four years, Nicole has chased dreams, changed dreams and found herself. She has made me a better professor, adviser and mentor. I am thankful for her dedication, grit and passion. I trust she will be a constant model of what it means to be an Olivetian as she keeps achieving big dreams and finding bigger dreams to chase.” — Professor Perry
Majors: English and Cultural Studies
Future plans: I will be attending Eastern Michigan University to earn my M.A. in literature. I also plan to teach abroad and eventually earn my Ph.D.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: One thing I’ll remember most about Olivet are the resources and opportunities available to students. I had attended another university prior to coming to OC, and Olivet ended up being my home. The amount of time Professors Laura Barlond-Maas and Kirk Hendershott-Kraetzer, Ph.D., have put into mentoring me has left a mark on me. The atmosphere and the challenges in both my major and outside of my major have shaped my drive and helped me realize my full potential.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Laura Barlond-Maas ’88
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? I want to recognize Professor Barlond-Maas because she was the first person who encouraged me to take risks. She made my transfer to Olivet easy and gave me a place within the major to feel like a family. She pushed me throughout these four years, not accepting anything less than what I could do. Her standards were high and they really helped shape me into the student I am today and the student I will continue to be in graduate school. She has been there through a lot, always offering advice and putting so much of herself into her work. She is my role model, someone I look up to and want to emulate when I teach.
Laura Barlond-Maas ’88
Laura Barlond-Maas serves as associate professor of English at Olivet College. In addition, she is also the current city of Olivet mayor. Professor Barlond-Maas has been a member of the OC family since her own time as a student, and she is proudly dedicated to her students and community.
“Working with Marah is not like work at all: she loves learning! She consistently challenges herself — and me! — to develop projects that will make her think outside the box, so she is never bored. More than just challenging herself in classes, Marah came to each class with the goal of assisting her colleagues in the class to learn as well. She found a home in the English program — as a student leading discussions, as a writing tutor, as president of Sigma Tau Delta, as a sought-after project partner, as a friend to all — and she will leave an empty space here to ensure we will remember her for a long time to come.” — Professor Barlond-Maas
Major: Journalism and Mass Communication
Future plans: I plan on starting my career within the field of visual communication. I would like to work with photography and video after graduation.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: The people that I have met at Olivet. The relationships that I made in college are some of the most valuable to me and have had the most impact on me as a person.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Daine Pavloski ’13
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Professor Pavloski has been heavily involved in my undergraduate career over the last four years. He has been a mentor and helped me realize and cultivate my passions within my major. He has been extremely helpful as the adviser to WOCR and has helped me become an effective station manager. He challenges students, and his guidance over the years has helped me grow so much professionally.
Daine Pavloski ’13
Assistant Professor of Media Studies Daine Pavloski ‘13 has been a member of the Olivet College faculty since 2016, first as an adjunct before taking on a full-time teaching role. Professor Pavloski recognized the impact of the private, liberal arts education paired with individualized attention and personal relationships during his own time as a student, and he was eager to return to OC to give current students the same opportunities.
“It has been my pleasure to watch Ashton grow as a student, a communicator and a person through her last four years in the JMC program. In that time, she has transformed from a shy freshman that hated hearing the sound of her own voice in broadcast classes, to a confident, vocal leader both in and out of the classroom. Inside the classroom, Ashton continuously creates compelling content through her coursework, and outside of the classroom, she has led by example in many ways, including as WOCR station manager during her senior year. Beyond JMC, Ashton has taken numerous opportunities to get involved around campus, including the President’s Leadership Institute, the Women’s Leadership Institute, the OC Marching Band and serving as president of Alpha Lambda Epsilon, just to name a few. Overall, Ashton’s exemplary work in the classroom, as well as her involvement across campus, makes her a prime example of what it truly means to be an Olivet College Comet.” — Professor Pavloski
Major: Criminal Justice with Concentrations in Corrections and Law Enforcement
Future plans: I am planning to work as a correctional officer within a county jail in Michigan. I am hoping to work my way up in my department and would like to retire as a sergeant or lieutenant. I would also love to work as a field training officer.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: I will remember walking along the sidewalks as fall turned to winter, searching for leaf imprints on the cement. For me, the imprints were part of the campus’ natural beauty and part of why I fell in love with OC at the beginning. Over the course of my four years, I took a photo with a leaf imprint each year, and I will forever cherish them because while I changed and campus changed, the leaf imprints and my memories of the College will always be the same.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Michael Sherzer
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Professor Sherzer has been the adviser of the Criminal Justice Honor Society (CJHS) for my four years at Olivet College. In his role, he was always encouraging me to become an e-board member because it looked good on a resume. Not only did taking on the role of vice president and eventually president of the CJHS look good on my resume, but it also allowed me to come out of my shell. His encouragement led to my personal development. When I first arrived, I was a quiet freshman, uncertain of where she was going, but my roles on the e-board of the CJHS helped shape who I have become.
Michael Sherzer, assistant professor of criminal justice, retired as a lieutenant from the Battle Creek Michigan Police Department in 2010, after completing just over 25 years of service. He then spent 10 years on the Olivet College faculty before announcing his retirement in spring 2020. Professor Sherzer’s real-world law enforcement experience has been a great asset to students during classroom learning.
“I remember Brandie as a freshman. She kept to herself and would not talk to anyone. As with a lot of freshmen, they learn and grow. When she became active in the Criminal Justice Honor Society, I was glad to see her seek not just any office, but the president position. I was proud to watch her gain the confidence to lead. Now it is hard to keep her quiet. Brandie is an asset to the criminal justice program, and she will be missed.” — Professor Sherzer
Hometown: Sterling Heights
Major: Business Administration with a Concentration in Marketing
Future plans: I would like to start my career in marketing for small business owners who do not have the money to afford top-end marketers. I want to be the person who creates an idea that brings their company from unknown to the talk of the town. I hope to travel while serving small businesses so I can see and learn more about the different places around me. After building five to seven years of experience, I would like to have a job at a known corporation. I hope to have a home and family and a career to support my family. Travel and photography are two of my lifelong hobbies that I hope to enjoy regardless of where I end up.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: What I will remember most about Olivet College is my home, Alpha Lambda Epsilon. The people there have helped me through some of the toughest times in my life, and I am not sure I could have gotten through it without them. They are a big part of my success at the College. They pushed me to be my best and challenged me. I took on many leadership positions throughout the house that helped me break out of my shell and prepare for the board rooms of my career.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Michael Oyster ’77
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? While many of my professors have helped me throughout my years at Olivet College, Professor Oyster stands out. I am so glad to have had a professor who cared so much about me and making sure I achieved my goals. Every time I was feeling discouraged, he assured me that my hard work would pay off in the end. Professor Oyster’s advice has helped me change my way of thinking. He challenged me to think intensely, and I have broadened my way of thinking. I am grateful that I had a professor who pushed me to look at the world through a different lens. Mostly, I am beyond thankful that I had a professor who believed in me and my ability to do well.
Michael Oyster ’77
Michael Oyster, chair of the Business Administration Department and assistant professor of business administration, has served the College since 2012. He is
a former CEO of publicly traded and private companies, a multinational corporate executive and entrepreneur. Professor Oyster is responsible for teaching courses, leading the Phi Beta Lambda honor society for business majors and minors, and working to increase experiential learning opportunities for Olivet’s business students.
“Since the day she arrived on campus, Bailey has demonstrated her outstanding character and commitment to excellence — as a student, as a leader and as an individual. I have been delighted to watch as Bailey has emerged from student to a true leader with a heart of service to others. Always a top student, Bailey would accept nothing short of perfection in her personal efforts as she set her sights on being one of the best in the College. In her quest, Bailey was frequently questioning, even challenging, herself and others (especially me) to make sure she could be the best she could be. It has been great to walk with Bailey as she began to realize that the world of black and white is really many shades of gray and even a multitude of colors. Through this journey, I have seen Bailey grow into a powerful leader of the next generation. I am proud of Bailey and look forward to her next great accomplishments representing the best of Olivet College.” — Professor Oyster
Major: Business Administration with a Concentration in Management
Future plans: My future plans include joining the Peace Corps where I’ll be serving as a community economic development facilitator in Fiji for two years.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: What I will remember most about Olivet College are all the moments in between classes with my professors and friends where we would laugh, joke and catch up on life. The relationships I’ve been able to build at Olivet College will last a lifetime, and I’m so grateful for all of the people I’ve met and all of the memories I’ve made. I’ll remember my Olivet College family the most, for sure.
Most influential faculty member: Jeremy Duby
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Mr. Duby was the first person I met on campus, and he has remained the person I go to with all the things college has thrown my way. His passion for music and his craft are contagious, and they transfer to his student-musicians. He’s been there for me through the good times and bad times and has always provided sound advice and support. He’s not only challenged me to become a better musician, but also a better student and an overall better person. He knows I’m not afraid of a challenge or hard work and often times has used this knowledge to push me even harder. He has always seen something in me that I’ve had trouble seeing in myself. His undying support and belief in me has made all the difference.
Jeremy Duby is the director of bands at Olivet College where he conducts the College Wind Ensemble and Marching Comets. Since his tenure as the director of bands, the program has undergone significant growth and is receiving national and international recognition. He is known for instilling a passion for music in future Comets, current students and the entire college community.
“It has been an absolute delight working with Abigale these past four years. From day one, Abby came into the band program full of energy and vision. Her drive and passion in her quest for knowledge and servitude is unrivaled and has played a key role in the building of the Marching Comets and their international acclaim. Her passion brought the Out of the Darkness Walk to campus and brought a new awareness as well as resources for mental health on our campus. As drum major, she was the quintessential ambassador to the band program. She has helped nourish the culture of the Marching Comets while also playing a key role in the reform of its leadership structure. I have enjoyed her open mind and attention to detail as we built structures and events on campus. Even in the most stressful times of planning or performing, she always has a smile on her face, a musical quote and an uplifting get-it-done attitude. She is always ready for the next project, asking ‘now what?’ during lulls in the office. Abby is going to do remarkable things in the world, and I am going to miss working with her.” — Jeremy Duby
The Donald A. Morris Award was named after a former president of the College. Morris served Olivet from 1977-92.
To learn more about Olivet College, contact the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or email@example.com.