You may have heard of the popular online series “Humans of New York.” What you may not have heard of is Trenton Monroe’s spinoff: “Humans of OC.” The senior actuarial science major from Plainwell took a photography class assignment from Daine Pavloski ’13, assistant professor of media studies, and ran with it. Trenton decided to interview advisers, professors and other staff members instead of taking the easy route and interviewing friends.
“It was good to see a different side of advisers and others,” Trenton said. “I was able to sit down with them and learn about their lives, which is something you don’t get to do every day.”
He interviewed Maria Davis, Ph.D., dean and provost, Mike Fales, director of service learning and campus ministries and assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies and religion, Judy Fales, director of Burrage Library, Ryan Shockey, athletic director, and KayDee Perry, assistant professor of health and human performance. Trenton expressed gratitude for the variety of stories he learned from each person.
“Mr. Fales has been involved in Adelphic, which I am a member of,” Trenton said. “Mrs. Fales is so nice and is someone I’ve always went to when I needed something. She’s always been there for me. I’ve never had KayDee Perry as a professor, but a lot of people click with her, and it was cool to see how she connects with students. Mr. Shockey is the face of Cutler, but it was fun to get away from sports and talk about his family. Dr. Davis is always so nice and friendly and bubbly in passing, but it was great to sit and talk with her for a few minutes and share stories with each other.
“It just goes to show you that there’s always something more to somebody. People are more than just their job titles. You never know them unless you reach out and talk to them.”
Lions, Tigers and … Markers, Oh My?
Besides his involvement in the “Humans of OC” project, Trenton is also a four-year member of the football team, a member of Adelphic and Gamma Iota Sigma, and he is also in the Global Citizen Honor Society. Perhaps the most memorable experiences he’s had during his time at Olivet have been the service trips. Trenton traveled to Costa Rica and South Africa and is looking forward to a service trip in Puerto Rico next month. There, they will participate in hurricane relief efforts, including removing mold and repairing roofs.
Trenton also received fulfillment from the trips to Costa Rica and South Africa. Though not expressly billed as service trips, both had service elements. In Costa Rica, the students spent time playing with kids at an elementary school and helping organize materials at the school.
“It was crazy that none of the kids spoke English and none of us spoke Spanish, but we just clicked with them,” Trenton said. “We’d just kick the soccer ball around with them or eat lunch with them. It was probably the highlight of the trip for me. We got to go whitewater rafting and zip lining, but what sticks with me the most is that afternoon we spent at the elementary school and that time we spent playing with the kids.
“In South Africa, we visited a township. The kids had the day off, but they were still at the school. We delivered copy paper, markers, pencils and other school essentials. We presented the headmaster with the supplies and she was emotional. Something little to us made her super overwhelmed with emotion.
The kids sang us a song and we sang them a song. We saw lions and elephants, but you still remember the township and elementary school, and for me, that was even more powerful than the other sightseeing opportunities.”
Trenton is currently in the interview process for jobs in data analysis and predictive monitoring; he aims to work on the analytical side of business. He looks forward to what lies ahead.
“I’m excited,” Trenton said. “It’s something new. My job could be anything; it could be anywhere. My passion has always been numbers, and math clicks with me. I love working with people and eventually I want to be a coach someday because I’m passionate about sports. If I could mix numbers and sports, that would be my dream.”
Trenton interns at the Farm Bureau Insurance office of Kyle Frizzell ’18. He works there twice a week, helping with general office work and other tasks as needed.
“Kyle was looking for extra hands and he took me under his wing,” Trenton said. “It’s been a good experience to learn and see the insurance side of the industry. The best part is getting exposure through the agency that I haven’t had the chance to have yet.
“Actuarial science and insurance go hand in hand. Thanks to Olivet, I’ve been able to double dip in math and insurance and risk management.”
Whatever comes next, Trenton feels prepared due to the professional experience he’s acquired both in and out of the classroom.
“Being as small as it is, the College offers you the opportunity to work with people, and that is something that develops me more,” he said. “You’re in groups developing collaborative thinking, and it benefits you professionally when it comes to resumes and the insurance program. Professors do a good job making you ready for the next step.”
Relationships to Last a Lifetime
Janine Peters, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, and Ross Bohms, associate professor of mathematics, have helped Trenton along the way. The Fales family has also played a key part in Trenton’s Olivet experience.
“Between Professor Peters and Professor Bohms, I credit a lot of my educational success,” Trenton said. “And when I think about who has impacted me, the Fales family comes to mind. They are always there for me and I’d do anything for them.”
Trenton also points to the football coaching staff as a key influence on his time at Olivet, including coaches Dan “Moose” Musielewicz, Brad Rumsey, Tom Wyman and Dan Simrell.
“My coaches offer guidance and mentorship on campus,” Trenton said. “Coach Moose has always been there for me. I’m grateful for the relationships I’ve built with all my coaches, and I look forward to coming back to campus as an alum and swinging by the coaches’ offices.”
A Second Home
Trenton has high hopes for the future, but he stresses that Olivet will always hold a place in his heart. The benefits it brings will follow him the rest of his life.
“Olivet is its own special place,” Trenton said. “You know a lot of people and there’s always a friendly face around the corner or someone to sit with at lunch. The classrooms are small enough to get what you want out of education. You build strong relationships with professors and advisers. You make lifelong friends. When you’ve been here for four years, it’s a special place and it’s definitely a second home for me.
“I love Olivet because of the relationships I’ve built and the opportunities I’ve been presented with. It’s a friendly place to continue my education and somewhere that will always be home to me.”