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Sophomore Payton Leonard approached college with a major doubt: how could she have a relationship-based college experience that matched her high school experience? The answer was Olivet College.

“My hometown, Fife Lake, is very small and it is for that reason that I felt most comfortable on Olivet’s campus,” Payton said. “It gave me the hometown feel that I had grown up with my whole life. I also chose Olivet because of the variety of opportunities I was offered. From being able to play collegiate sports to getting to travel across the United States and everything in between. The College truly inspires me to Be More!”

Payton is studying biology with a minor in psychology, and she hopes to one day work as an occupational therapist. She’s preparing for her career by working at a local outpatient facility, shadowing a certified occupational therapist and earning credit for her hands-on experience.

In addition, Payton will graduate in just three years, thanks to a customized academic plan developed with her professors.

“I am so happy to say that I have been able to build some amazing relationships with my professors and other staff members at Olivet College,” Payton said. “They have done an amazing job to set me up for a three-year graduation plan and have helped me tremendously. One in particular who has become a very big mentor of mine is Leah Knapp, DVM, professor of biology.

“Not even knowing who I was, Dr. Knapp sat down with me in my first semester to talk about my future. When I walked out of her office after that first meeting, I had a whole new mindset on the field of medicine and a whole new game plan to go with it. She never once since then has dismissed my goals or dreams and has instead given me more inspiration to keep pursuing them. Instead of approaching an idea with ‘no,’ she instead looks at it and says ‘let’s figure out how we can do it.’ I am inspired by her kindness and attentiveness toward all of her students, and I can only hope that her selflessness rubs off on me.”

Payton and friends supporting the inaugural Olivet College Autism Awareness Walk.

Payton also serves as a resident adviser in Dole Hall. She especially enjoys connecting with first-year students and assisting in their transition to college. In addition, Payton is a member of the President’s Leadership Institute and the Gerontology Club. She also played volleyball during her first year and attended the NCAA Leadership Forum in Orlando, Florida, last April.

“The experience that I have gotten from Olivet College has changed my life,” Payton said. “It has taught me so much about how easy it is to set goals and achieve them. It has taught me that opportunities are all around me and that I have the ability to get everything that I want out of life if I am determined enough to work toward it. I have become a much more open minded person thanks to Olivet College, and I now know that there is no limit to the things that I can achieve.”

Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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