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The top graduating seniors with the highest grade point average who completed all coursework through Olivet College are annually honored with the Donald A. Morris Academic Excellence Award. In addition, professors chosen by the students as most influential are also honored. Congratulations to the following students and professors.

Kaylee Clothier

Hometown: Battle Creek
Major: Psychology; Minor: Social Work
Future Plans: After I graduate, I plan on attending the Radiant Church School of Ministry. I intend to combine that experience with what I have learned at Olivet College in order to be more effective in my ultimate goal of working with children and families.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: I will most remember how each professor genuinely wants you to learn and excel. They constantly offered their assistance, and even if you were not in their class, they still went out of their way to make time to sit down with you and help you in any way you needed.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Will Hagerty, Ph.D.
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Dr. Hagerty was my adviser, and I took several classes with him each year. He always went out of his way to help me navigate through my college experience. I always knew I could reach out to him with any question, whether it was about course content, scheduling classes or life in general. He pushed me to think deeper about the real-life application of the topics we learned about in class, which has helped me apply what I have learned to my daily life, as well as connect content across different classes. I am thankful for Dr. Hagerty and the work he put in to help me learn and grow throughout my time at Olivet because I would not be who, or where, I am today without him.

Professor William Hagerty, Ph.D.

Dr. William Hagerty serves as assistant professor of social sciences, and he works closely with the department faculty in developing curriculum and teaching a course load in the clinical field. He has taught an array of courses, including statistics for the social sciences, counseling and psychotherapy, and psychology of gender, as well as other psychology and sociology/anthropology courses.

“Kaylee did not earn excellent grades by accident; she is a woman with a purpose. Over the last few years, I have had her in many classes, and her drive became more and more pronounced. In the clinical courses Kaylee took with me, she was a natural helper. As a part of the GCHP, she completed a project with me that combined two courses, Counseling and Psychotherapy and Family Dynamics, to apply a treatment intervention model to a family system. While very challenging, she conceptualized the work in a way that my experienced clinical colleagues do. She ‘got it.’ It is hard to teach intuition. The fact is that teaching Kaylee is easy. All this is extraordinary, but the most impressive part of Kaylee is her commitment to her faith. Because of this, she knows who she is. Her faith in God and the reassurance of her identity in Him has given her the ability to persist and excel in areas where many other students struggle to figure out their own ways.” — Dr. Hagerty

Jacob Coultas

Hometown: Davison
Major: Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
Future Plans: My future plans after graduation are to enter the marketing workforce as well as potentially working toward obtaining my MBA from Olivet College.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: What I will remember most about Olivet College are the relationships that I have developed with my professors.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Michael Oyster ‘77
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Professor Oyster has been an outstanding professor who not only provided book learning but brought forth every day, real-world experiences. I have been fortunate to not only travel with him and other students to Antigua where we were able to witness global areas of marketing, but he has also been a mentor for me throughout my four years at Olivet. I have also had the privilege to work with him daily in my independent study where I have helped further develop the MBA program at Olivet. Professor Oyster is a great professor and someone I will always look up to and appreciate all of his teachings.

Professor Michael Oyster ‘77

Michael Oyster ‘77, chair of the Business Department and associate professor of business administration, has served the College since 2012. He is a former CEO of publicly traded and private companies, a multinational corporate executive and an entrepreneur. Professor Oyster is responsible for teaching courses, leading the Phi Beta Lambda honor society for business majors and minors, and working to increase experiential learning opportunities for Olivet’s business students.

“It is with great delight that I have this opportunity to endorse Jacob as a recipient of the Class of 2021 D.A. Morris Award. Jacob is the quintessential example of an Olivet College student: quiet, confident and compelling. He has demonstrated outstanding character and commitment to excellence as a student, as an athlete and as a role model to all. Together, we shared the adventures of international travel, and in that environment, I first saw Jacob develop and demonstrate the dependable leadership that is so powerful and critical in our next generation.

It has been a pleasure to watch as Jacob has emerged from a ‘learning’ student to a true ‘giving’ leader, contributing to others’ success with a heart of service. Always a top student, Jacob would accept nothing short of perfection to achieve his personal goals. As his perspective has broadened, Jacob has painted his world with color, now seeing far beyond the absolute of black and white. He embraces the ambiguous and the unknown — the more challenging, the better. I am grateful Jacob has allowed me to be a part of his journey, and I look forward to continuing to walk along with him after he moves from Olivet College and into his career. Seldom is there an opportunity to recognize a student like Jacob Coultas, who is truly one of the best of the best.” — Professor Oyster

Dean Failer

Hometown: Holt
Major: Insurance and Risk Management; Minor: Environmental Science
Future Plans: After graduation, I have accepted a position to be an underwriting trainee with Sompo International in Dallas, Texas.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: I will most remember the relationships I have built with countless people at Olivet College.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Thomas Humphreys, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, CIC
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Professor Humphreys has greatly impacted my learning and experience at Olivet. He has prepared me for the professional insurance environment by helping build my resume, aiding in providing internship and scholarship opportunities, and helping me to establish a network. Professor Humphreys also has taught me the necessary insurance knowledge I will need to be successful, and he has been there for me as a resource offering advice and insight into my professional and personal life.

Professor Thomas Humphreys, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, CIC

Thomas Humphreys, CPCU, CLU, ChFC, CIC, serves as the director of the Risk Management and Insurance Center at Olivet College and assistant professor. Prior to joining the Olivet College faculty, Professor Humphreys led a successful career in the insurance industry and served in other teaching capacities. He is especially passionate about helping students gain real-world experiences through internships, professional conferences and competitions, and involvement in Gamma Iota Sigma.

“Dean has been an outstanding, well-rounded student during his entire career at Olivet College. He has always gone above and beyond expectations within the classroom, his internship experiences and as a leader in Gamma Iota Sigma. Performing at such a high level in these endeavors while also playing collegiate soccer is a testament to Dean’s dedication, character and work ethic. It has been my extreme pleasure to watch Dean grow as an individual and professional over the last four years. He is destined to be a force within the insurance industry as he starts his career with Sompo International in Dallas, Texas, upon graduation. Well done, Dean, your journey is just beginning!” — Professor Humphreys

Stewart Manges

Hometown: Flushing
Majors: Insurance and Risk Management and Financial Planning
Future Plans: Working with Diversified Brokerage Services in their licensing and commissions department while furthering my education through attaining designations.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: The excellence of my professors in providing the guidance and advice I needed at the right time has been pivotal at OC. I will also remember the global learning experience class trip to Thailand, which provided the most unique and amazing experiences I have had thus far in my life.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Areerat “Poy” Lertchaipitak, Ph.D.
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Dr. Lertchaipitak provided me with so much help and guidance during my time at Olivet, both in and out of the classroom. Her courses not only taught valuable information that I could bring to my career but also life lessons that I will carry with me into the future. Dr. Lertchaipitak was always available to provide individual guidance on coursework or just life advice when I needed it. She presented me with the opportunity to travel for conferences, which is how I was able to meet my current employer. Beyond that, her courses provided the opportunity to travel the globe and allowed for some truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Dr. Lertchaipitak is the source of some of the best experiences I had while at Olivet and is the reason that I have my current career. I can distinctly say that I would not be where I am today without Dr. Lertchaipitak.

Professor Areerat “Poy” Lertchaipitak, Ph.D.

Dr. Areerat “Poy” Lertchaipitak, assistant professor of business and financial planning, teaches courses in financial planning. She focuses on financial decision making, behavioral finance, financial satisfaction and financial literacy. Dr. Lertchaipitak enjoys teaching in a variety of ways in order to benefit and appeal to students with different learning styles. She aims to help all students at OC learn about financial decisions and the importance of personal finance.

“It has been my pleasure to work with Stewart Manges since his first year at Olivet College. Stewart proved himself a capable, intelligent and motivated student early on, and he continues to demonstrate his attributes each day. Stewart’s work is always of the highest quality, and he shows his ability in various ways, including winning first place in the 2020 Financial Services Career Exploration Competition. In addition to Stewart’s academic and professional traits, his personality traits, such as compassion, adaptability and optimism, make him a well-rounded person. I could not be more proud of Stewart. I know Stewart will only continue to blossom. Congratulations!” — Dr. Lertchaipitak

Nhu Nguyen

Hometown: Lansing
Major: Accounting
Future Plans: I’m preparing for the CPA exam, and I’m planning on getting a master’s degree in accounting after I graduate.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: My time at Soronian will be my most memorable experience. I also always enjoyed participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program where I was able to help people and gain more professional skills.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Jackie Looser
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Professor Looser has always been there for me ever since I switched my major to accounting. She helped me with my four-year plan and made sure I’m on track for my CPA goal. Professor Looser was always willing to stay after class to help me with homework and reassured me that I’m doing well. She also gave me valuable advice to make sure I will succeed in my career.

Professor Jackie Looser

Jackie Looser, assistant professor of accounting and business, has served Olivet College since 2014, first as the chief financial officer for three years before transitioning to the faculty. Teaching accounting courses allows Professor Looser to combine her two biggest passions — mentoring young minds and finances. She believes her extensive professional experience assists her in connecting with students who have no background in accounting, and she uses real-world examples to help students relate to coursework.

“It has been my pleasure and privilege to have Ms. Nhu Hoai Phuong Nguyen, Emma, as a mentee and student in the accounting program. I met Emma in her sophomore year of college. I believe that the saying ‘Work Hard, Dream Big’ was developed after someone met Emma. She traveled to the United States from her homeland, Vietnam, in hopes of greater opportunity. She joined the Soronian Greek society, building friendships that will last a lifetime, and has tackled every challenge that came her way. She is a shining example of what it means to be part of the Olivet family.” — Professor Looser

Makennah Rousseau

Hometown: Greenville
Major: Psychology
Future Plans: A major passion of mine is working with adolescents, so my plan is to secure a job where I can make a difference in the lives of struggling teens. I do not have any current plans to attain a master’s degree, but I am not opposed to the idea. The future is unbelievably unpredictable, so I am more inclined to see all the possibilities the world has to offer before making any major decisions.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: I will always cherish the friendships I made on campus. The students, staff and community members of Olivet provided me with a second home and countless people who I consider to be family.
Most influential faculty member: Mr. Jeremy Duby, M.M.
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Mr. Duby has dedicated countless hours outside of the classroom to ensure his students receive the most “normal” band experience as possible this year. He also demonstrates a high level of passion and intensity for his work, which inspires me to work hard at everything I do. He cares deeply about the well-being of his students and often takes time out of his day to check-in and have a conversation with them.

Mr. Jeremy Duby

Jeremy Duby, M.M., is the director of bands at Olivet College where he conducts the College Wind Ensemble and Marching Comets. Since his tenure as the director of bands, the program has undergone significant growth and is receiving national and international recognition. He is known for instilling a passion for music in future Comets, current students and the entire college community. In addition, Mr. Duby works closely with the College admission office, meeting with prospective families to guide them through the college selection process.

“Makennah Rousseau has been an outstanding and influential member of the Comet Bands. She has been instrumental in building our culture of excellence, bringing a smile, a pun, an improv session and even an occasional Broadway review to each rehearsal. Her genuine, uplifting attitude is always contagious and develops an atmosphere of welcoming, creative energy. Her relationship with her peers is energized, having a very empathetic approach to everything she does. She is Olivetian to her core, demonstrating our values every day. It has been a joy working with Makennah, fostering her growth through life. She will go on to do amazing things in this world, but most importantly, she has left a strong legacy for which the band can continue to grow.” — Mr. Duby

Mikaela Schmidt

Hometown: Clarkston
Major: Mathematics
Future Plans: I am currently looking for employment in the data analytics field. After I attain some professional work experience, I plan to pursue a master’s degree.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: My experiences with the Women’s Leadership Institute.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Janine Peters
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Professor Peters is a great professor, and she always made time to help me when I did not understand the material I was learning in class. She also has made a point to do what she could to help me with my job search. Overall, she is a positive, encouraging person, and I am glad to have had her in my corner.

Professor Janine Peters

Janine Peters, associate professor of mathematics, teaches college algebra, courses in the calculus sequence, probability, statistics, advanced calculus, complex analysis and abstract algebra at Olivet College. She has received the Riethmeiller Award for excellence in teaching, the Donald A. Morris Award as the most influential professor of a top graduate, and she was named a Livingston Professor, the highest honor presented to a professor at Olivet College.

“It has been a sincere pleasure to work with Mikaela these past few years. Mikaela is an earnest, detail-oriented and highly-motivated young mathematician, curious to learn and eager to solve problems. She has taken every opportunity to learn and grow during her time at Olivet College. She has been a member of the Women’s Leadership Institute, the President’s Leadership Institute and our College’s Mathematics Club, serving as treasurer and Student Government Association representative. Mikaela demonstrates community focus by her participation in the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

Mikaela takes responsibility for her own learning and personal development. Beyond her meticulous work in the classroom, she has pursued learning opportunities beyond Olivet College. She contributes to the learning of others by respectfully asking questions and sharing remarks in class and is always helpful to her peers. She has demonstrated resilience in adapting to remote learning and the challenge of pursuing employment in a very different professional environment than she might have envisioned two years ago. Mikaela is a knowledgeable, reflective and creative individual, whose successes have only begun.” — Professor Peters

Chelsie Smith

Hometown: Laingsburg
Major: Exercise Science
Future Plans: I plan to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan-Flint. I will be starting their Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program this fall.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: The things I will remember most about Olivet College are the people I met and the friends I made. I will remember my time as both a student and an athlete, and the time I spent with my teammates, classmates and professors.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Nick Juday
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? Professor Juday has been my adviser and mentor for the past four years. He has guided my academic success and pushed me to challenge myself, and I always knew I could turn to him for advice. I know that he genuinely cares about seeing me and other students succeed not only in school but also in life.

Professor Nick Juday

Nick Juday, associate professor of health and human performance, focuses on exercise science and human performance through the practical courses of exercise physiology, biomechanics, nutrition and principles and techniques of conditioning. He mentors his students through research studies and internships at various locations based on the student’s needs or career choice. In addition to teaching, Professor Juday is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (C.S.C.S.) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He also holds certifications through USA Olympic Weightlifting (USAW), USA Track and Field (USATF) Level 1 Coaching Certification and is an instructor certified through the American Red Cross.

“Chelsie is a remarkable student who has an exceptional ability to reflect and think critically, and she is also an extremely talented writer. As gifted as Chelsie is in her classes, she is an even better person. She has terrific character and sincerity, and I will miss our insightful conversations. It has been a blessing to have the opportunity to interact with Chelsie over the last four years, and I am thrilled that Chelsie accomplished her primary goal and will be attending the University of Michigan-Flint in their Doctor of Physical Therapy program. It is with mixed emotions to see Chelsie graduate. I am sad for her to leave us and move on to her next stage in life, and her presence on campus will be genuinely missed, especially by me. However, I am incredibly eager to see what Chelsie will accomplish in the future.” — Professor Juday

Caitlyn Tanner

Hometown: Charlotte
Major: History; Minor: Sociology/Anthropology
Future Plans: Following graduation, I intend to take a gap year before applying to graduate school and completing my master’s degree in museum studies. I will then seek employment as a curator at a museum in the area.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: I will definitely remember the people I met while attending Olivet College. There have been so many interesting people with unique stories to tell. Each one helped me learn and grow as a person. The experiences I have had with professors and fellow students will be something I will cherish for many years to come.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Nikki Magie, Ph.D.
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? During my four years at Olivet College, Dr. Magie has been my professor, boss, mentor and friend. She has gone above and beyond what is required for these roles and is always willing to lend a hand, even when I have a problem that is outside of her area of expertise. Without her, I would not be where I am today, and I am sure many other students and alumni would say the same thing.

I sincerely hope that Dr. Magie continues to teach at Olivet College well into the future, for she is a wonderful person who improves the lives of everyone around her. Without her kindness, the history program and the College as a whole would not be as great as it is today.

Professor Nikki Magie, Ph.D.

Dr. Nikki Magie, associate professor of social sciences and Olivet College archivist, is a world historian. Her love and passion for history sprouts from her will to learn about as many aspects of human life as possible. Dr. Magie teaches world history and various regional history courses at Olivet. She teaches not only from books and facts, but also from her own experiences traveling the world, including places like Mexico, Brazil and South America.

“In the four years that Caitlyn has worked with our Hosford History Center and Lawrence Archives, she’s become our lead researcher. She not only completes amazingly high-quality work, but both collaborates with and mentors her colleagues in the same. She’s consistently hard working and enthusiastic, and she clearly has a deep passion for not only history but also for reaching others with history. She’s become a leader to her peers at Hosford and in the classroom, where she pushes discussions deeper with challenging questions. Her work is excellent — whether it’s a project for a course or her year-long archival research for the College’s 175-year timeline. It has been an honor to work with Caitlyn for her entire college career, and I so look forward to the amazing contributions that she will continue to make in the world of museums and archives!” — Dr. Magie

Andrew Todd

Hometown: Flushing
Majors: Insurance and Risk Management and Financial Planning.
Future Plans: I plan (and have already begun!) to pursue a career in the public risk sector of the insurance industry as an underwriter. I hope to acquire my Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter designation in the next few years, and I am considering an MBA through Olivet College further down the road.
What I will remember most about Olivet College: I will most remember the incredible sense of community and the quality of relationships that are uniquely created at Olivet College. The sure-to-be lifelong friendships I was able to build with professors and fellow students are the greatest reward from my time attending Olivet College.
Most influential faculty member: Professor Areerat “Poy” Lertchaipitak, Ph.D.
In what ways has your honored professor impacted your learning and experience at Olivet? It is hard to overstate how impactful Dr. Lertchaipitak has been in my development as both a student and as a person. Dr. Lertchaipitak introduced me to the world of financial planning. I discovered interests and skills I never knew I had. From her input, I declared a second major. Dr. Lertchaipitak led other students and me on amazing journeys, both scholastically and from the perspective of personal development. We were able to attend renowned national conferences in places like San Diego and at sea through a cruise ship financial planning industry conference. Academically, Dr. Lertchaipitak led fellow graduate, Stewart Manges, and me to victory in the national Industry Issues Competition. Lastly, Dr. Lertchaipitak led the program that provided me with two of the best weeks of my life: the global learning experience class involving a trip to Thailand. My worldview expanded immensely in such a short time. My Olivet College experience would not nearly have been what it was without Dr. Lertchaipitak’s diligent work, kind attitude and depth of knowledge, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Professor Areerat “Poy” Lertchaipitak, Ph.D.

Dr. Areerat “Poy” Lertchaipitak, assistant professor of business and financial planning, teaches courses in financial planning. She focuses on financial decision making, behavioral finance, financial satisfaction and financial literacy. Dr. Lertchaipitak enjoys teaching in a variety of ways in order to benefit and appeal to students with different learning styles. She aims to help all students at OC learn about financial decisions and the importance of personal finance.

“Andrew Todd is one of the brightest students I have known. He puts his whole heart into everything he does, and that makes him achieve any goal he aims for. I have been watching Andrew accomplish each milestone on his college journey, and I am confident that he is going to make it to the top of everything he decides to do. Andrew won numerous student competitions and scholarships during his four years at Olivet College. In addition to always being on the President’s List, Andrew was consistently involved with the college extracurricular activities and professional organizations. He served as the chief financial officer for Gamma Iota Sigma and is a fellow of the President’s Leadership Institute. Andrew is truly a role model. Congratulations to Andrew and his future successes!” — Dr. Lertchaipitak

The Donald A. Morris Award was named after a former president of the College. Morris served Olivet from 1977-92.

To learn more about Olivet College, contact the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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