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Elayna Masters may only be in her first year at Olivet College, but she’s already found her niche on campus. The biology major from Hillsdale said she’s hardly even felt homesick since finding her home-away-from-home on campus.

Elayna began her college search knowing exactly what she was looking for — a hands-on program with a homey feel. After her first visit to Olivet College, she knew it was where she belonged.

“At OC, teachers know you and I feel at home in the classroom,” Elayna explained. “It’s awesome!”

Next up, choosing a major was equally as effortless for Elayna. Growing up around the Great Lakes instilled a passion in Elayna for aquatic health and wellbeing.

“I had the chance to take an environmental science class as a senior in high school and had some great hands-on experiences, including studying leaves and water damage in Lake Erie,” Elayna said. “I knew I wanted to fix it; I had to help. The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system in the world and I don’t want to lose that.”

Elayna’s passions and college plans came full circle almost as soon as she began her first semester. She joined OC’s Global Citizen Honors Program (GCHP) and connected with Leah Knapp, D.V.M., professor of biology, at the program’s welcome picnic. After just one informal conversation with Dr. Knapp, she helped Elayna match a course of study with her goals.

Elayna didn’t hesitate to ambitiously declare a major in biology with a concentration in ecology and organismal biology and has enjoyed further connecting with her professors. She’s especially enjoyed getting to know Marcus Wasilevich, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology.

And, Elayna’s also excited to continue her involvement with GCHP. The program even includes the chance to study at the University of Oxford paired with many other exclusive benefits and opportunities. She knows graduating with honors will also help her get a leg up in graduate school.

“I never thought I would be able to do an honors program,” Elayna said. “That just goes to show the real benefits of going to Olivet College. There are so many ways to get involved, learn and grow.”

That’s not all Elayna is diving into. She also joined the dance team, works in the admissions office and landed a spot in the ATHENA International Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI), designed to help female students become confident leaders.

“I really love being a part of the Women’s Leadership Institute,” Elayna emphasized. “I’ve learned so much and it’s been really eye-opening. In just the first couple weeks, I already felt like I was becoming a better public speaker and more confident.

“I’ve also gotten to know President Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., and WLI Director and Presidential Spouse Traci Corey through the program. I know at a larger institution the president wouldn’t know my name, but President Corey knows me and asks me how I’m doing. We even connected over our shared love of dystopian novels and traded some title recommendations with each other. 

“Getting to know Traci has been like making a really close friend. She always gets excited to see me and I think that’s amazing. I am not a face in the crowd or a number. I have a deep, personal connection at OC.”

On March 22, Elayna will be honored with the second cohort of the Women’s Leadership Institute at the Cultivating Women Leaders event.

While that might seem like a lot in just her first year, Elayna says it’s no big deal. She uses a planner to stay organized and wouldn’t trade her robust schedule for anything. After all, she’s making incredible memories and growing as a person.

To learn more about Olivet College, attend an upcoming admissions event or contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu. Plus, registration is now open for Cultivating Women Leaders.

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