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Good Fortune Disguised as Bad Luck

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John Morrison isn’t your typical undergraduate college student. He can build a house; lay a concrete fl or; fly a drone to gather data on the extent of cherry orchard infestations; identify fish swimming in lakes and streams; talk wildlife management, chemistry and biology; and shoot clay targets. This 24-year-old transfer student now has his sights on becoming a veterinarian.

Thanks to the Edward P. Speare Biology Scholarship, Morrison is well on his way to reaching his goal without having to worry about how he’ll manage the cost of tuition. And, thanks to the relationships Morrison has built with his science instructors, he’s confide t he’ll be prepared for veterinary school and beyond.

Morrison’s story parallels that of Tim Hodge’s (pages 14-15): a student from a rural community set on becoming a doctor and thinking Olivet College would be a stepping stone along the way. However, once relationships with faculty began to take root, like Hodge, Morrison knew Olivet College was the place for him.

“I wanted to be a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) office. I first attended a community college in northern Michigan and earned an associate degree in freshwater science,” Morrison said. “I planned to attend a college in the Upper Peninsula to complete my four-year degree and then work for the DNR. However, before the start of the semester, I learned that certain classes wouldn’t be offered if not enough students registered, and I also realized that even if I completed my degree, a job as a DNR officer s not a guarantee.”

Morrison returned home to Quincy, in Branch County, and began exploring biology programs at some midsize universities in Michigan to prepare for veterinary school. However, after visiting the colleges, and as orientation approached, Morrison still wasn’t 100% sold. And then the pandemic struck. “My family has a saying: Good fortune is disguised as damn bad luck.”

Arthur Morrison, John’s older brother, is a graduate of Olivet College and encouraged his brother to check out the school. “I knew what I wanted, and I didn’t think Olivet, a small school that I thought focused on business, would be able to give me what I needed in its biology program to prepare for vet school,” Morrison said.

Then he met Leah Knapp, DVM, professor of biology. “She’s the one that got me here. I trusted what Dr. Knapp said about the quality of the biology program and how the smallness of the College is a benefit to students. She spoke to the personal relationships students and faculty can build, which is important in difficult fields, like the sciences, where you’re likely to need some help outside of the classroom.”

Morrison received an email outlining his scholarship and financial aid package shortly after. The Edward P. Speare Biology Scholarship is awarded to outstanding juniors or seniors majoring in biology or environmental science. The scholarship is named in honor of Dr. Speare, a beloved Olivet College professor who taught biology and other science classes from 1950 to 1994.

“Not having to worry about tuition has allowed me to concentrate on my academics. I know once I get into vet school that I’ll have loans. It’s a relief knowing my loans will be that much less thanks to the Speare Scholarship,” Morrison said.

Morrison’s icing on the cake was learning that Olivet College has an Outdoor Recreation and Competitive Clay Target Team. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, but people in my age bracket never had the opportunity to compete when in high school or college. So, it’s something I couldn’t pass up. I’ll never have that opportunity anywhere else,” he said.

When asked to sum up his Olivet experience, Morrison said, “I like it here. When you have your instructor’s telephone number to call or text if you need anything, that’s something. That’s the reality here.”

Morrison will graduate in May 2022 with a degree in biology. He is concentrating in premedical studies with a focus on veterinary medicine and minoring in environmental science. His goal is to open a large animal practice back home in Branch County.

Talented students, like Morrison, are able to realize their dream of earning a degree because your gift o the General Scholarship Fund improves access to affordable educational options. No matter the size of your gift o the General Scholarship Fund, it is put to use immediately to attract successful students to Olivet. If you would like to make a lasting impact and perhaps honor a loved one or former faculty member by creating an endowed scholarship, contact Vicki J. Stouffer, CFRE, vice president for advancement, at vstouffer@olivetcollege.edu.

This feature was included in the winter 2022 issue of Shipherd’s Record and The President’s Annual Report, Olivet College’s alumni magazine. This special issue introduces the College’s new strategic plan, “Olivet College 2030: Vision for a Prosperous Future.” Sections also include updates from the Offices of Advancement and Alumni Engagement, Comet Sports, a 2021 Year in Review, Financials, Class Notes, Feature Stories, a Homecoming Recap and much more. View the full magazine here.

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