This speech was presented by Tyler Douglas ’18, a psychology major from Griffith, Indiana, at the 21st annual Leadership for Individual and Social Responsibility Awards Dinner on May 17. Olivet College honored Tyler and five other students with the John W. Porter Community Responsibility Scholarship for demonstrating individual and social responsibility through their involvement and service to the college and their community. Tyler’s story is an example of opportunities to be more and the responsibility to do good that are unique to Olivet College.
Olivet College is the reason I can finally say, “I am proud of me.”
I would like to start by acknowledging my beautiful mother who is here with me tonight. Thank you for your love, your sacrifice, and your patience. You motivate me every single day to be the best student, the best son, and best man that I can be.
I would also like to take time to thank everyone who had a hand in choosing me as one of the recipients of the John W. Porter Scholarship for my work with our college’s Black Student Union. Trust that all the good things we have done since I took over as president could not have been done alone. It took a lot of teamwork between myself, our amazing executive board, and our dedicated members. So I would like to say thank you to them as well for staying aboard during the tough times and helping our organization shine once again.
Over the course of the last academic year we have done a lot of great things to shine a positive light on our culture and support inclusion among minority groups on campus. Outside of our regular Saturday, on-campus programming, we also continued our relationship with the Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy here in Lansing by organizing a service trip to their campus, something we like to call the BSU/MMLA Helping Hand Project. We were able to do many things to improve the educational environment of the school for all of their students. Another bright spot of our year was being asked to host and facilitate the college’s Minority Student Forum, where we bring together the leaders of different minority organizations on campus and talk about programming we have done, things we would like to do, and what we can do as a whole to improve life on campus. I am very proud of our recent work and we look forward to building on our success in the coming school year.
Dr. Maria Davis asked me to write this speech about my Olivet College experience and what it means to me. At first, I was not sure how I could sum up all the things I have learned at Olivet in just a few minutes. There is a whole world of lessons to be learned when you decide to move three hours away to another state to attend school. However, the most important lesson is learning who you are. Being here has helped me identify my purpose behind the things I do; it’s what motivates me to get out of bed and work hard every day and be able to look in the mirror and be proud of the person I see looking back at me.
I come from a place where people like me aren’t supposed to go to college. We’re not supposed to be getting our education, receiving scholarships, and broadening our horizons. We’re supposed to drop out, end up where we started, and fall victim to our environments. But by the grace of God, this institution gave me the opportunity to not only further my education, but become someone that people back home can look up to and see hope.
Olivet College is the reason I can stand before you today and tell you my purpose, which is to be the man my mother raised and be a positive role model for my people. It is the reason I can stand up here and tell you that the people close to me are what motivate me to get out of my bed and put in the work every day. Whether it be my mother, my two friends who turned into my brothers, my teammates that I take the field with, or the people I have met through BSU. These people motivate me to get up and get better every day. Olivet College is the reason I can finally say, “I am proud of me,” proud to be the president of the Black Student Union. Proud to be a captain of this school’s football program. Proud that I WILL be the first member of my family to graduate college…and proud to be a Comet. Thank you.