I’m not sure if I chose Olivet, so much as Olivet chose me. I hadn’t heard of Olivet College before my senior year of high school, which is funny because I drove past it at least once each year when going to watch the basketball finals in East Lansing. There’s a curve in the highway on our way back where the hip-hop station from Lansing would cut out, and my dad and I made comments about it each year. I came to find out that that curve is between the Ainger Road and Bellevue exits.
Near the end of my senior basketball season, the coach from Olivet happened to be at one of my games. He took an interest in me and invited me to campus for a tour. I wasn’t highly recruited, but I had been on a couple of other campuses and tours leading up to that, so I had a bit of an idea of what I was looking for in a college. When I finally got on the grounds and was able to see the campus in person, I knew it was definitely a place I could see myself spending the next four years. I remember having lunch in the KC talking to my dad saying, “At least the food is good.” While I hadn’t committed yet, I think it was in that moment I knew that Olivet is where I’d end up.
I majored in business administration with a concentration in marketing management. In addition to that, I was a member of the basketball team for two years, the American Marketing Association for three years, and I pledged to the Phi Alpha Pi Literary Society during my first year.
Today, I live in Chicago with my girlfriend who is also an Olivet alumna. I was able to use my degree to find a great job with a marketing agency working on the Dyson account. I’ve since transitioned out of that role into a more financial one, but I still use my degree and experiences frequently — most notably helping my grandparents market their cleaning business.
Olivet has played a role in my life outside of my career as well. After moving to Chicago, one of my fraternity brothers moved in with us, became our personal trainer and went on to own his own gym. Another Olivet alumnus is our realtor, and she helped us find the apartment we live in now. I’m also still a part of a fantasy football league that started over a decade ago in the halls of the Phi Alpha Pi house.
As an alumnus, my advice to today’s college students is to try to set good habits early — make sure you get to class on time, finish your work well before it’s due and don’t skip classes. I know it’s cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. While it makes for a good “war story,” watching the sun rise from a computer lab because you had to pull an all-nighter to finish a project is not fun. Doing it multiple times is even less fun.
Also (I wish someone had instilled this in me before I started), use your professors’ office hours. It’s a small campus and all of your professors are going to know you by name and face. They’ll make a mental note each time you miss class or turn in something late, so it’s best to be thought of as the good kid who made a mistake rather than the opposite. Also, in frequenting your professors’ office hours, you can get clarity on concepts that you may be struggling with. They’re there to help you succeed and are always willing to do so.
Lastly, get involved. I, of course, advocate for the College’s Greek life, but there are a ton of other ways you can make an impact and socialize with people who aren’t necessarily in your major. You can find out what you like and don’t like and what types of careers you may want to pursue after you graduate. This extends to the roles within those clubs, too, which may be even more important. Do you want to be the president or just join the club because you’re interested in it? I can tell you one way you can definitely find out.
You’ll also have a reason to stay connected. Speaking to my experience, I read the alumni newsletters and emails to see what’s new with classmates I may have lost touch with, and I am constantly checking the fraternity’s Facebook page to get updates on the condition of the house. I also don’t have to really make plans when going back. If it’s a big enough event, such as Homecoming, I just show up and know that I’m going to run into some great friends and have an even better time.
Olivet is an interesting place, unlike any place I’ve been before or since. I’ve seen people who love it so much they come back year after year upon graduating. I loved my time at Olivet, and I think you will, too.