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175 Voices of Olivet

This fall, Olivet College launched its 175th anniversary celebration, continuing through Commencement 2019. During these 175 years, OC has continuously striven to teach students the divine art and science of doing good to others, guided by the mission of our founding fathers. The institution recognizes it is the people – from Father John Shipherd, to the faculty and staff who serve students today, generations of alumni, the Class of 2018 and even new students who have only just joined the campus community – that make Olivet College a special place. In honor of our 175th anniversary, our hope is to share at least 175 voices of Olivet College.
  • My experience at Olivet was amazing! I was a transfer student from a community college. I was looking to continue my academics and basketball career at a four-year college. As soon as I visited Olivet, I knew that’s where I was going to transfer to. I loved how “homey” it felt like, the small class sizes and how all my professors knew me. I wasn’t a number to them. I was a member of the women’s basketball team from 2014-2016, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that experience. My coaches were great and my teammates became my best friends. The atmosphere during games was awesome, we always had so much support from not only other athletes, students and parents, but the community of Olivet. I was able to travel to California for a week for basketball, and I was able to see places I never thought I would go to, like the Hollywood sign, Santa Monica Pier and Hollywood Walk of Fame. Olivet College gave me endless amounts of opportunities and helped shape me into the woman I am now.

    Jacquelyn Harwood ’16

  • Olivet means so much to me and it is hard to put it all on paper. Olivet taught me how to be a student of life and become a better human being. Olivet is somewhere I went and never wanted to leave. My hometown was only an hour and a half away, but I chose to spend my summers in Olivet. From being able to represent the university on the football field to going on service trips with Mike Fales across the United States, these memories I will hold onto forever. Olivet gave me the opportunity to meet so many people, and many of those who I will consider friends for life. If it were not for Olivet, I would never have had the opportunity to be a part of the brotherhood known by most as ELITE. Olivet has been the ultimate giver to the quality of my life and it is somewhere I will always hold in high regard! I thank everyone that has contributed to making Olivet what it is, a truly special place.

    Michael Glenn ’10

  • My experience at Olivet College was a roller coaster. Coming out of Cody High School in Detroit, Michigan, it was a culture shock. My first month I really didn’t speak to anyone other than my football teammates.

    Eventually, I opened up and met some guys that related me to back home, and at the time, I was thinking about going back home and not coming back. Those young men were from the Greek society Alpha Phi Kappa, and those men reminded me of my friends and family back home and made me feel connected.

    Later that year, I pledged and crossed over. Alumni brothers in the fraternity told me that, “pledging is the easy part.” I did not believe them at first, and then life experiences started to happen to me and I realized that those guys was right. The best part of pledging is being grounded to Olivet for years to come.

    I decided to stop playing football to focus on my studies and got more involved on campus. It helped me figure out who I was and where I wanted to go in life. I join NAACP and BSU and held the position of president. During that journey I also became president of Alpha Phi Kappa, and my senior year I also was president of the Intersociety Council. These different accomplishments helped form me into the man I am today. Never being less than the best and always striving of excellence are the skills that I learned at OC. Those skills are everlasting.

    Vernon O. Davis ’11

  • Without Olivet, I do not know where I would be in life. Despite being in a rural area, this school seems to be enchanted and has given me everything I’ve dreamed of and more. Olivet has taken me across the globe experiencing different cultures and helping people, and has given me an incurable sense of wanderlust. Not every moment here has been good. At one point, I was at the lowest I’ve ever felt and wanted to give up, but the people here wouldn’t let me do that. That’s what Olivet means to me — it is a place that believes in you no matter what. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along this journey. I am forever grateful for your kindness.

    Brian Freiberger ’19

  • Olivet was a very special place for me. I have made lasting friendships that thrive 20 years later. During my time at Olivet, many changes were occurring and the college was coming to terms with needing more diversity. This presented a very unique experience for students of color at that time. One of my proudest accomplishments while on campus was chartering Alpha Phi Kappa fraternity which would serve as a place for individuals of like mind and a strong desire for excellence to work together for scholastic success. As a student leader and activist, many of the skills I developed and honed have helped me in my community and launched my work as a strong change agent in American public schools.

    The most important part of my experience was the people … not just students, but the people that worked at the College that supported students. It was a place where everyone knew everyone and had an investment in students being successful. Many times during my Olivet life, there was struggle and without help and support from key people, I would never have graduated and have had the experiences in life that I am most proud of. I hope that Olivet continues to employ the highest caliber of faculty and staff because it truly makes a difference in the lives of students. I learned a valuable life lesson and live by it to this day – to whom much is given much is required!

    George Hill ’99

  • Olivet College was the place where I could freely tap into my creative side. Despite numerous obstacles, I was able to create an organization on campus, revitalize two others, graduate, and launch as a successful member of society. And along the way, I met a lot of great friends, some with whom I remain in touch. Olivet College is more than just an educational institution, it is a “life-shaping” melting pot of educators, administrators and students from all walks of life! Congratulations, Olivet, on 175 years of Education for Individual and Social Responsibility.

    Bill Bridges ’00

  • Olivet is everything to me – I am a proud Olivetian. I got the opportunity to play college football, making a dream come true, and I met my wife, Judea Cook ’17, in the computer lab in the Kirk Center. I got the chance to be part of a great organization, Alpha Phi Kappa, and make lifelong friendships. I was mentored by so many teachers and faculty that took interest in me: Dr. Jon Clifton, Richard Craig and Saleef Kaffajoufe. Olivet became my second home outside of the bright lights of my hometown Detroit, and I found myself loving the peace and quiet of Olivet. I also was a radio host and a columnist for the Olivet Echo. I had a great college experience full of great memories and laughs. I am a Comet for life!

    Christopher Cook ’05

  • Sometimes the days were dark with deepest sorrow, and sometimes they were edged with light and hope. if ever the foundations of a college were laid in tears and labor, sacrifice and glimmering hope, it was at Olivet.

    Reuben Hatch

    First President of Olivet College from 1845 to 1846
  • It does seem sixty-one years since I walked down to receive my degree at the Olivet Congregational Church on June 2. I remember playing basketball for the college, working in the ‘galley’ at nearly every meal and then off to class. I fell in love with the campus when I first arrived, having never been to the campus before coming to the college. Dr. Speare had come to preach at my Congregational church in Mattawan, Michigan and told me the story of the college. I came to honor and value the faculty that set me on the road to a lifelong love of reading, thinking about my world and what part I might play in those years ahead of me. All of us of the era of the 1950s will remember the names of our outstanding and caring faculty and the leadership of the college, names like Boucher, Scott, Blakney, Copps, Gruen, Newcomer, the Hanson’s, Thomas, Schons, Kindell, Mitchell and McCollough among others. Each of them adding to my growth and the growth of all of us in intellect and spirit. At this point in time, I have served for 61 years as a clergyman in the United Church of Christ – a career for which Olivet helped me prepare. Someday, my ashes shall return to the sacred ground behind Dole Hall and I’ll be home again and where two of the women I have loved are also interred.

    Donald N. Nichols '57

  • OC was the place and time in my life where I was given the chance to find my career. I was somewhat a difficult fit, but my instructors saw something in me that I had never seen. I was spurred on to work hard and to see what is possible in life. I really loved my time there in the 70s and appreciate it even more in my retired years. Who knew that even today OC would be in my heart and life?

    Dave Macqueen '75

    Alumnus and Instrumental Department Volunteer

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