Olivet College’s psychology program is designed with real-world lessons, networking options, internship positions, research experiences, engagement with honor societies and much more. These opportunities prepare students for success post-graduation as many pursue careers or additional education. Two psychology alumni recently used their degrees as a launchpad to earn master’s degrees and play collegiate athletics in England.
John Hollowell ’17 — Where Passion and Persistence Collide
John Hollowell’s work ethic and passion for soccer have always outweighed his natural talent for the sport — but that’s a fact he’s proud of. That drive pushed Hollowell as a college athlete, both at Olivet College and at the University of East London (UEL). In just three short years after graduating from OC, Hollowell earned a master’s degree, played soccer in England at the collegiate and semi-professional level, built experience working with international sports teams and launched his professional soccer career in the United States.
“I only played one year of varsity soccer in high school, but I still got to play college soccer,” Hollowell said. “This was a big deal for me. I always prided myself as a hard worker more than a talented athlete, but I think that’s what helped me achieve long-term success.
“After college, I focused on my goal to play soccer professionally, something I always knew I wanted to do. I set realistic goals to achieve that, and one of them was to set myself apart. I knew playing abroad would make me stand out more to recruiters, and it would show that I’m willing to take on a challenge.”
Hollowell’s experience at UEL was exactly the opportunity he was looking for, and, since returning to Michigan, he has taken a major step toward his ultimate goal of playing professional soccer. Hollowell is training with Waza Flo, a professional indoor soccer team in Detroit. He credits his passion and perseverance in helping him get there.
“I am motivated to help inspire others who might feel afraid or self-conscious about following their passion,” Hollowell said. “I was never naturally talented at what I do, especially as an athlete. At times, people made me feel silly for following a career in professional sports because it’s something I love; however, with hard work and persistence, I have achieved a few things that my coaches and peers probably didn’t think I was capable of.
“I want to help show others that it’s possible for anyone to pursue what makes you happy and to be good at it. Becoming skilled or successful in something you’re passionate about isn’t about where you start — it’s about what you do once you’ve started that will define your success. Passion, combined with the right attitude, will bring anyone 10 times more long-term success than just natural talent will.”
Jamaul Martin ’18 — Football, Neuropsychology, Discipline
Jamaul Martin ’18 has had a winding college journey, but three themes remain present throughout: football, neuropsychology and discipline. He’s transferred colleges, changed majors and even hit some road bumps due to COVID-19, but Martin’s motivations and goals haven’t wavered.
“I’ve been playing football since I was 8-years-old,” Martin said. “I remember being on the field for the first time and falling in love with the sport. It’s always been what’s kept me disciplined. Even on the little league teams, you had to have good grades and good behavior to play.”
The opportunity to play collegiate football was a big draw for Martin, and Olivet College’s individualized classroom attention made it the perfect home for him. Martin’s relationships with his professors helped guide him to the field of psychology, inspired by his interest in the medical field.
“After graduation from Olivet, I wasn’t sure what my outlet to play football was or what opportunities would arise, but I knew that’s what I wanted,” Martin said. “I made highlight tapes of my film at Olivet and posted them on YouTube. I connected with a recruiter who suggested I explore playing in the United Kingdom. When I discovered Durham University, it seemed like the perfect chance to continue playing football and get my master’s degree.”
When Martin arrived at Durham, he was one of the only American students on the team and one of the only players with a strong background in the sport. He quickly fell into a mentor position and enjoyed the comradery with his teammates.
“Durham has a history of being a top collegiate team, but they lost in the first round of the playoffs last season,” Martin said. “From the moment my coach picked me up at the airport, we talked about what direction the team was going and what role I would play. Since football isn’t as popular in Europe as it is in America, many guys don’t start playing until they’re 18 and in college. It was hard to be patient at first, but I was able to play a big part in teaching the team to operate as one. I was proud of my teammates for always wanting to go the extra mile.”
For now, Martin’s story ends here. Without a doubt, though, it will be continued. This spring, both his class schedule and football season were cut short due to challenges presented by COVID-19. While Martin’s journey took an unexpected turn, the setbacks haven’t changed his outlook on life.
“My goal is to play professional football,” Martin said. “It has always been my dream. As long as I have my body and my health and the desire and motivation, that’s what I’m going to go for.”