Libby Jean serves as director of student services at Olivet College, but her role is so much deeper than just a fancy title. Libby enjoys personally connecting with future Comets and helping families learn how they can affordably reach their educational goals. In fact, Libby discovered her passion for the student services field during her own time as a student, serving in the financial aid department at her alma mater. Despite her role or job location, Libby has continued to work in the field and looks forward to making a positive impact on more young men and women every day.
Why do you love OC?
I had actually driven through Olivet a few years before I came to work here. I was very impressed with the beautiful campus setting and the friendly, welcoming people, so when I saw the position opening for assistant director of student services, I jumped at the opportunity. Since, I have become the director of student services.
I love working at Olivet College because of the interactions I have with students, families, staff and faculty. I’ve worked hard to build strong, meaningful relationships. It has changed my life in monumental ways, and I truly hope I have made that kind of difference in the lives of those I interact with each day.
What is your favorite memory from your time at OC?
Every spring, as commencement approaches, we typically have a few students who stop by for a hug and to say thank you to the student services staff. Last May, we had a lot of students stop by with cards and treats. In fact, there were so many, it filled a table in our office. You always hope you are making a difference in the lives of those around you, but moments like this leave you a little choked up seeing that impact you made and saying goodbye to wonderful people.
Where do your passions for mentoring and student success stem from?
My mother worked in a retirement home for many years. She was constantly looking for ways to make the day special for someone else. There were times she didn’t have enough money to pay her own bills. There were times her health was failing and she could hardly get through the day. Yet, every day, her focus was on how she could help someone else have a better day. My passion for mentoring and student success stems from that memory of my mother. No matter what is going on in my own life, I want it to be less about me and more about others.
What is your mentoring style like?
I believe in helping people gather the tools they need to be successful. In that sense, my mentoring style is to help the person to grow and develop on many levels. There is a process of sharing knowledge and experiences while giving enough room for the individual to develop their own style. Then, it is time to step back and nurture and support them as they take those first steps on their own. I feel like a proud parent when I see someone I’ve worked with over the years come into their own. It’s like graduation day all over again.
What’s the average day in your role, or some of the unique things you are responsible for?
An average day for me is usually centered on people and processes. I have reports to manage the financial aid programs and to help key people make financial decisions. I also spend a portion of my day planning for upcoming projects such as registration, FAFSA filing and financial aid awarding. Financial aid regulations are constantly changing, and it is my responsibility to support a strong knowledge of those regulations to maintain compliance. A large part of my day is also spent meeting with special people such as students, families, staff and faculty.
Why do you encourage students to attend OC?
I encourage students to attend Olivet College for the experiences they will have. Several activities that provide students with great experiences include athletics, Greek Life, band, The Echo and the Global Citizen Honors Program. The attention students receive from our faculty and staff also help our students feel connected and supported.
What do you look forward to in your role?
New student orientation events and move-in day are some of my favorite times of the year. I love seeing the hope and anticipation in the students and their families. It’s awesome to just walk around campus on those days and interact with families.
What advice do you share with students?
Make careful, proactive decisions about how you invest in your educational pursuits. Loans can be a frightening topic for students and families, yet it is one of the many tools you can use to invest in your education. Only borrow what you need and have a plan for your life after college. Keep your eye on the prize. What you do today impacts who you will be years from now.
What is an interesting or little-known fact about yourself?
I am fluent in sign language. I have interpreted at concerts, church and conferences as well as at other events.