What does Olivet College mean to me? It means Kirk Hedershott-Kraetzer’s essay assignments. Laura Barlond-Maas’ brunches. Margi Heppner’s positive disposition. Jake Schuler’s alarming but kind hello. Mike and Judy Fales’ Canadian Thanksgiving dinners. Kim McGowan’s crazy ideas and Karen Lutzke’s ability to be a mom away from home. It’s the way John Moore emanates confidence into my studies. For me, these people have impacted my experience at Olivet College on an incredibly personal level.
But, what does Olivet College mean to the mass majority of us?
We have an opportunity attending school here to stand out, be successful, network and make a change in our school and community. Yes, we have just over one thousand students here. No, we don’t have a McDonald’s here and you might know the life story of every one of your professors. Different than your friends at other schools, right?
Take advantage of it. Talk to people. Say hi. Engage yourself with like-minded individuals. Engage yourself with people who aren’t like you. We all decided to attend school here. We all decided to make Olivet the next phase of our lives. So why not challenge yourself? Join more clubs. Meet more people. Sit with someone you never would have before. Learn about their major. Learn about their interests. Set goals for yourself.
One of my personal goals for this past school year was to become more culturally diverse. After taking one of John Moore’s psychology classes, I decided to join a tutor and mentoring program for young girls new to America from Burma. I was able to completely immerse myself in the Burmese culture for a couple hours a week and understand their struggles trying to assimilate into American culture. From this program, I have made friends and have learned so much more about the world, the culture and myself.
I think it is so important to find every single possible way to set goals to improve yourself. This goes for everyone. If you’re on an athletic team, run that extra mile, push through that extra sprint, lift that extra pound. We all have different ways of pushing ourselves. Exceed your own expectations academically, personally, professionally or athletically. Make the choice of attending or working at Olivet College worth it.
This is a change for us all, this tiny but dynamic town, so let’s embrace the challenges that are upon us. For me, the change came from the population.
Living in Windsor, Ontario, a city of approximately 220,000 people, driving through Olivet was a change of pace for me. But, instead of being just a number at a Canadian university or state school, I decided to come here and become an individual who can impact a community. Unlike many of you, I did not have a choice to earn a degree at a small-sized institution like this one. If I wanted a degree back home, it would mean 500 students in my intro to psych class. It would mean getting lost on campus about 40 times. It would mean less opportunity and more assimilation and structured thinking. So I decided to come here and take advantage of the opportunities Olivet has to offer.
Though, attending school here in the States brings its own challenges: being late to Coach Kim’s practices because the Ambassador Bridge took three unexpected hours to cross. Exchanging money at the bank every time before I come back to school. Teaching my mom how to use FaceTime audio because if I called her on her cell phone, her phone bill would cost more than my tuition and the fact that my wallet is constantly filled with pennies because they’re useless in Canada.
I knew there would be challenges. Essays, exams, even speeches. But Olivet has proven to me that every obstacle overcome only bears a positive reward at the end. So embrace that challenge and reap the rewards that follow.
So what does Olivet College mean to you, now? At first it may just mean that you have to drive an extra 10 minutes for a Big Mac. But as you continue to grow here at school, Olivet College will bring you friends, mentors and a network of opportunities that will last a lifetime – which is arguably better than a Big Mac.