To Dr. Sharon Hobbs, success is a combination of passion, skill and finding the right fit. Throughout her life, she has maintained passions for human behavior and helping others. She has put that to use in both her career and during her close involvement with Olivet College, which she has worked with since 2005.
Sharon accepted the invitation to serve on the board of trustees because the Olivet College mission of individual and social responsibility aligns with her personal mission. “We make choices in our life that impact us as individuals and as citizens of the world. Individual responsibility means that you take ownership of your choices, what you do and who you are. Each individual needs to evaluate what role they play in their community and greater society. You are socially responsible if you make decisions for yourself that embraces the good of society. We cannot be self-absorbed so that we do not see our role as social beings and take the actions that make the lives of all better.”
What Can I Do?
A clinical psychologist, Sharon has dedicated her decades-long career to improving lives. She has a particular interest in children, young people and family relationships. That interest helped her connect with Olivet.
“I had visited Olivet a couple of times,” Sharon recalled. “But a friend who was on the board and knew my work and commitment to young people asked me to consider being a trustee of the college.”
Ever since becoming a trustee in 2005, Sharon has been involved with Olivet. In addition to her role on the board, she is a member of the Women’s Leadership Institute Advisory Council, which has helped to develop several programs and events, including the Cultivating Women Leaders Event, that provide resources, training and encouragement for young women seeking leadership roles.
“I have always been socially active. I look at the things in my surroundings that I do not believe are in the best interests of those who don’t often have a voice, and I ask, ‘what can I do,’ not ‘what should they do.’ I am not passive about my life or about my role professionally or as a citizen of the world. … I use my resources, time and financial gifts to do what I believe is true to who I want to be and is responsive to my community.”
As for why she has continued to work with the college for more than a decade, “I love Olivet and its values. It is committed to each student’s success, and it expects – demands – that each student think about how they can give back to the community. I have been able to meet and work with a lot of the faculty and they have been wonderful.”
Sharon said that she believes financially supporting Olivet is part of a trustee’s responsibility. But it goes beyond obligation for Sharon. She speaks of her contributions in a matter-of-fact, humble manner. “My gifts to the college are for humanitarian purposes. … I am not a large donor because I don’t have the finances to do so. However, I give what I can regularly.”
Passionate About Working for Mankind
After earning her Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Sharon made her way to Michigan from New York. Sharon found work at MSU, working as a psychologist in the Department of Pediatrics. She opened her own office shortly afterward, and has been working as a clinical psychologist at the Abbott Road Center for the Family in East Lansing since 1992.
Sharon manages therapy sessions for patients, working with individuals, pairs and groups. In addition to therapy, she works with family court cases. She offers her professional opinion and assists with evaluations regarding parental custody of children and visitation rights.
Sharon’s passion for her profession shows in the time she spends working. When discussing the biggest professional challenges she’s ever faced, she responded, “Not enough hours in the day. I have a big practice.” It also shows in the strong personality she displays while working. “I’m honest…I don’t permit myself to be bullied,” said Sharon, adding that she has particularly relied on that strength during court dealings.
Sharon said that her passion and refusal to back down helped her to a successful psychology career. But while those traits may suggest someone determined to go it alone, she also noted the importance of a strong support system. “I owe my success to the people that have pushed me forward and believed in my talents and skills.”
Although Sharon found her career path early in life, she said there’s more to success than feeling strongly about a subject or profession. Finding a practical use for talents and interests is an essential part of the equation. “Your goal is to appropriately assess your abilities and pursue an education and career that you are positive about that reflects your abilities and passions.”
And that’s why Olivet College is so important to her. “Olivet College sets in motion the development of moral character and a value system that is respectful of all people. This generation and all future generations need to be passionate about working for the good of mankind.”
By Reed Kalso