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Olivet College recognized 17 students as graduates of the seventh President’s Leadership Institute (PLI) class during a ceremony Wednesday, March 27 at the Battle Creek Country Club.

Launched in 2013, PLI was established to develop top leadership skills in Olivet’s students, as well as enable them to become the principal professional and community leaders of the future. The College collaborated with experienced professionals that specialize in business coaching and professional development to design a program catered specifically to Comets. Students with exemplary leadership potential are nominated for the program by the OC community.

To begin the program, students complete the behavior assessment known as the DiSC Assessment, categorizing students into four groups named after each letter representing their most prominent behavioral trait: dominance, inducement, submission and compliance. Recognizing the difference between a manager and a leader is another pinnacle aspect in PLI’s curriculum. Positive communication and addressing change are also lessons covered in PLI, paired with personalized leadership coaching sessions.

The final stage of the program, Putting Leadership In Action Team Projects, divides students into small groups to put their knowledge, skills and abilities into practice. Each group brainstorms projects that could improve the Olivet College community.

Graduation Ceremony Highlights

President Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., and the faculty members of PLI, including trustee David Labrecque ’84; Provost and Dean Maria Davis, Ph.D.; and Today’s Leader partners Charlie Burnham, Mike Bivens and Jill Edelen, were on hand to officially recognize students as fellows of the institute for having successfully completed the eight-segment program.

“It truly is the people that make up Olivet College,” Dr. Corey emphasized. “We might be small but we’re mighty in the outcomes we generate one student at a time. I know what is coming with this group of fellows as they graduate. That may mean making a difference on campus by carrying forth the principles that you’ve learned in PLI and in other ways in which you’re leading. You will be a positive influence on others and create positive change for Olivet College in ways that build, grow and strengthen our community, and then when you leave Olivet College and do the same things in the rest of the world.”

Two PLI fellows served as the featured guests at the graduation ceremony, Morgan Hall ’14 and Cassie McDonald Ross ’13, PT, DPT. Hall is an award-winning media marketing expert who specializes in ideography, design, writing and unique content creation. Hall and her husband, Chris, own Big Shot Video where Hall serves as the creative strategist. McDonald Ross  is a doctor of physical therapy at Armor Physical Therapy. She currently specializes in outpatient general orthopedics, sports medicine and women’s health.

Hall emphasized the importance of passion in life and leadership. “Just because you’re going into a specific field or you’re getting a degree in something doesn’t mean that you still don’t have these superpowers,” Hall said. “You shouldn’t ignore them! A lot of people today think that they’re two separate things. You earn your money doing something and you have a side hobby. Today, there are so many options to combine them. Take a little extra time to think how you can do that. And if you can couple that with all of the lessons that you learned from PLI, you’d be surprised how much you can accomplish.”

McDonald Ross concluded by summarizing Hall’s advice and the lessons learned through PLI. “Take your passions, take what you learned in this institute and take what you learned at Olivet College and know that you are in such special company when it comes to going out there and truly enacting change,” she said. “Evolve the world. Special things happen; don’t just go and sit at your desk. You have to go out there and connect with people. Take every opportunity you have to get in a room with people who can keep that fire going.”

Seventh President’s Leadership Institute Graduation Class

Asheley Brooks, psychology major, Novi

Reiker Dean, visual arts major with biological illustration concentration, Youngsville, North Carolina

Nicole Deweyert, exercise science major, Dorchester, Ontario

Maia Greer, financial planning major, Kalamazoo

Savannah Hickman, exercise science major, Chicago, Illinois

Tori John, exercise science major, Cadillac

Rose Kemmerling, biology major with premedical concentration, Monroe

Melanie Keusch, insurance and risk management major, Charlotte

Keanalanimeleo’kekai Kunz, biology major, Laie, Hawaii

Brittany McDuffie, biology major with premedical concentration, Toledo, Ohio    

Ashton Osborne, journalism and mass communication major, Detroit

Miranda Pier, accounting major, Woodhaven

Emma Schut, accounting major, Cedar Springs

Sofiya Stumpos, sports and recreation management major, Albion

David Sunnock, business marketing major, Marshall

Tyler Thenikl, studio art major with graphic design concentration, Belmont

Grace Wheeler, psychology major, Marshall

Successful institute graduates are designated as “fellows of the President’s Leadership Institute” and are invited to remain engaged in the activities of PLI in support of future student leadership development, both while completing their studies at Olivet College and as successful alumni engaged in professional and community leadership roles.

For more information about the President’s Leadership Institute, contact Barb Spencer, executive assistant to the president, at 269.749.7642 or bspencer@olivetcollege.edu. Learn more about opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills at Olivet College by visiting campus. Connect with the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu for questions.

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