From Olivet the Magazine, Spring 2022

Olivet is situated in northeast Illinois and the heart of the Midwest, where the view of the landscape changes drastically depending on the weather and season. The seemingly flat land is raised and lowered as the fields sprout up before inevitably being harvested down to the dried stalks.

In the spring, farmers meticulously follow weather patterns to determine how and when to plant seeds to cultivate growth that will yield a harvest of matured produce, grain or flowers. As farmers track milestone moments of growth in their fields, so too the University experiences and celebrates life in seasonal transitions.

Those who choose to further their education after high school continue to invest in their personal and professional growth capacity. Young minds are full of curiosity and passion to enact change, and Olivet provides students with a global perspective that prepares them to make local impact. But the growth doesn’t stop at graduation.

As reflected in the following stories from the Olivet community, a college education is only one season of many in which one will pursue purpose and add to his or her faith.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." ECCLESIASTES 3:1


“Growth can only begin with the seeds we have to offer.”

Daneli Hentschel

’17/’19 MBA Outreach Specialist for Minority Students, Office of Admissions

So many of us yearn to skip ahead to the harvest so we can see the fruits of our labor. It’s fulfilling, certainly, but there’s also so much joy in new beginnings — in the process of planting seeds — that we should not take for granted. At Olivet, we get to experience the hope of planting seeds in young people every time a student walks onto campus for the first time as part of a visit, throughout their years with us, and as they prepare for their future when we send them out to serve in the world.

The planting of seeds at Olivet takes many forms and happens in every season. Sometimes it begins in the admissions process, when a student’s dreams are heard by an admissions counselor. It can happen in a professor’s office, where a student’s goals are validated and encouraged by a professional who does not look down on the student simply because of the student’s youth. It may happen over lunch with a peer, when ideas and emotions are affirmed as they journey together.

We plant seeds in our systems as we establish priorities, adapt as necessary and create new things. For instance, the Office of Admissions is looking toward the future with hopeful expectation as we see our Aspira initiative connect, inform and empower prospective Hispanic students and their families with the capability of higher education. In our first year of Aspira, our team has visited new schools and churches, translated materials into Spanish, broken down financial barriers, and shifted our thinking so we can proactively serve a particular population. It has been a season of meticulously planting seeds so that, one day, we can see more of our underrepresented students on this campus — learning, growing, serving, worshiping and thriving.

All across campus, at every grade level and in every department and space, we need to plant seeds. This generation has hearts full of fertile soil. They are a people yearning to be part of something greater, but growth can only begin with the seeds we have to offer: seeds of knowledge we share, the seeds of better systems to foster growth and not hinder it, and seeds produced when we collectively live lives of faith and integrity our students witness and emulate. The planting process is less about the end result and more about ensuring bright beginnings to a purposeful journey.

Restoring Life in Abundanc

At Olivet, Matthew Smith ’06, M.D., M.P.H. developed strong friendships with classmates and got to know his anatomy and physiology professor, Dr. Bob Wright, on a personal level. Dr. Wright’s mentorship and compassion taught him the value of building relationships rather than merely focusing on the technical components of scientific understanding.

During the year between his undergraduate and graduate studies, Matt connected with an Olivet alumnus, Michael Carlisle ’03, M.D., who was in his fourth year of medical school. He encouraged Matt to consider specializing in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat surgery) — a suggestion which shaped the course of Matt’s future career.

His medical training at Wayne State University and residency in the Henry Ford Health System built a foundation in the otolaryngology specialty that was solidified during his fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. He learned under the mentorship of one of the surgical pioneers of pediatric airway reconstruction, Robin Cotton, M.D. Today, Matt is one of the pediatric airway surgeons at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the world leader in pediatric airway reconstructive surgery and aerodigestive disorders. Children from around the world rely on Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for surgeries that often elongate their life expectancy.

For Matt, science is only one element of wellness, and he is passionate about expanding equative access to medical care. Two years ago, Matt and a colleague at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital started HELP, a high school program for inner-city schools that arranges for health care professionals to speak into the lives of students and encourage them to consider health care careers that will utilize their unique talents and interests. Above all, Matt wants to inspire excellence in the lives and careers of others through his position of influence.

“I’ve had many people invest in me who didn’t have any obligation to do so,” he reflects. “Over the next 10 to 15 years, there will be so many health care industry jobs that we need people in — ranging from physicians and nurses to hospital chaplains. If people don’t see themselves in those careers, they’re never going to pursue those fields. I’m excited to play a small role in changing the face of health care by advocating for and mentoring underrepresented students for generations to come.”

Sustainable Efficiency

In 2021, Olivet began work on the installation of 3,100 solar panels on two campus buildings through a partnership with SunVest Solar. The Perry Student Life and Recreation Center and the Betty and Kenneth Hawkins Centennial Chapel were selected as ideal buildings for solar panel installation due to their large, flat and relatively new roofs. Since being switched on in November, the panels have generated 210,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which has resulted in a cost savings of nearly $6,600, and have prevented around 329,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. This success has happened despite the panels operating in the darkest months of the year and being covered by heavy snowfall a few times. SunVest maintains and monitors the panels, and students have benefitted from the opportunity to observe the systems and gain a greater understanding of the need for more renewable energy sources.

Structure for Growth

Dr. José Manjarrés, an engineering professor in the Walker School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, credits his interest in academia to mentorship from his professors and educational advisers.

“When I struggled the most, they were there to push me and help me succeed, not by easing the tasks but by giving me a larger vision of what I was doing,” he says. “They inspired me to excel in everything through their teaching and research work.”

The path to success often involves growing pains, and two crucial moments in Dr. Manjarrés’ educational journey impacted his teaching methodology. He had to redo his project proposal four times at the beginning of his Ph.D. program and was later advised to pursue a career in teaching instead of research.

“I was working with the ‘rock stars’ of my research field who saw how my passions shifted when I was with younger students compared to when I was reading papers,” he says. “I felt defeated and lost at the moment, but later I could see how much I had learned in so little time.”

But just as critical as strong academic instruction is to the advancement of his students, Dr. Manjarrés believes in the transformative and redeeming power of faith in guiding future generations to become world-changers in their chosen fields of study.

“I believe that Christian educators have a vital challenge to connect our students with the idea that the stewardship of sciences is a means to be truly human,” he says. “The story of the Garden of Eden is an insight into God’s ideal partnership with humanity in ruling this world. Thus, besides accompanying our teaching with morality and spiritual advice, at Olivet, we are growing in our ways to connect our education with God’s calling for humanity to rule and subdue the Earth as well as reflecting Christ’s character to our society.”

Community of Connections

As the assistant athletic director of communication at Eastern Texas Baptist University, Adam Ledyard ’99 is in charge of enhancing the brand of the school by promoting the accomplishments of its athletes and coaching staff. It is a role for which he was well prepared by his own athletic, academic and work experiences at Olivet.

“The moment that really connected the dots for me came my senior year, when I landed a work-study job in Athletics working as the sports information assistant for the sports information director,” Adam says. “I had the chance to write, work with media outlets and help on game days. I knew then that I wanted to work in the athletic industry.”

In his 10 years at the university, Adam has made a consistent effort to recruit Olivet alumni. In 2020, Kennedy Gladding ’20 joined the athletic communication team as a graduate assistant, and, a year later, Adam recruited Hunter Overholt ’21 and Peyton Thibault ’21.

“There’s no way our department would have survived the fall semester without the GAs [graduate assistants],” he says, “and I credit that back to ONU and the leadership skills they instill into their students with the opportunities they give them.

“I am excited about what God can do at universities that put Him first. I believe that receiving a Christian higher education degree gives graduates a step up in their career journey because of the Godly impact students receive from professors and staff. Being a part of a place that cares for you all around and helps improve your way of life is worth a lot.”

Investing in the Future

From 2017 to 2019, two of the University’s donors gave a total of $620,000 to the McGraw School of Business, establishing the Student-Managed Investment Fund and its two separate funds, the Student Scholarship Fund and the Student Engagement Fund. The funds provide students with the chance to actively engage in the financial markets through the Investment Club. The portfolio, which also helps fund student scholarships, has grown to $815,627.

The purpose of the Investment Club is twofold: investment education and capital preservation and appreciation. Students get a grounded understanding of the differences between stocks and bonds, but, more importantly, they learn about why investing is crucial for the legacy of a large organization. During weekly meetings, students pitch different investable assets, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and real estate, to the group by providing an overview of funds and what current economic events or trends might have an impact on the performance. Club members have the opportunity to ask questions throughout the pitch and then vote on whether or not to invest in the asset and, if voted on to invest, what allocation and which fund will hold the investment.

Praying Through the Seasons

Tammy (Salyer) Chenoweth ’89 enjoys the role of First Lady — from personal time with students over coffee to leading a weekly prayer group for their concerns. Starting last June and continuing once a week since, she has huddled with a core group of faculty, staff, administrators and members of the community in Kelley Prayer Chapel.

The format is not from a set prayer request list but is Spirit-led, as those gathered pray for God’s will on topics prompted within each participant. Intercession is always for the needs of students and employees, but two prominent themes are that Christ followers grow deeper in God’s Word and that those who don’t yet follow Christ would encounter Him before they leave the University.

“Anyone is welcome to join in prayer,” Tammy says. “The number of people gathered doesn’t matter, but I know that if righteous people are present, there is power in that.”

New Life Springs Forth

In January 2019, 40 students gathered to plant more than 85 native species of plants in the 2.5 acres of fields behind the Bell West Campus as part of a prairie restoration project. This outdoor lab space gives students in biology, zoology and environmental science courses the chance to monitor the growth of the plants and track species of animals and insects that have returned to populate the habitat. In addition to preserving the local ecosystem, this ongoing project teaches students to appreciate and care for the beauty of God’s creation.

Fresh Perspectives From Life on the Road

The expansive variety of cultural, economic and social differences in the world is often most appreciated through travel and interaction with people outside of one’s own community. After two years with limited chances to travel, Olivet students are experiencing life abroad again through participation in study and volunteer trips. Opportunities like these allow students to apply knowledge from their Olivet courses as they receive new seeds of influence from exposure to different cultures.

Claire Mountain, a junior Spanish major, heard about studying abroad in Ecuador from other students in her program. As part of the Nazarene International Language Institute (NILI) Undergrad Program, Claire is one of six students in Quito this semester.

“Since the program we are with is a part of the Nazarene Church, I have had many opportunities to bring Olivet with me,” she says. “We attend Carcelén Church of the Nazarene, where our professor is the pastor. We get to be a part of the young adult group at the church and get to know the people there.”

Additional experiences have included in-country trips to the beach, markets, the Amazon rainforest and the Galápagos Islands.

“Leaving the Olivet bubble and living on a different continent was definitely a culture shock — but in a good way,” Claire explains. “I had the chance to view life from a different perspective and have a greater appreciation for many things I took for granted.”

After researching about the Middle East in a class during her freshman year, junior Hania Diggory knew she wanted to study abroad in Jordan through the Middle East Studies Program (MESP). The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities GlobalEd program provides students with an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in daily life in Amman, Jordan, as they build community within the program.

“This semester, the program consists of all women, and I’m ever thankful that the seven of us get to share life together,” Hania says. “We regularly get to hear the devotional thoughts of each other, share how we are all processing class material differently, and mutually establish relationships with the people we meet both here in Amman and in neighboring cities.”

“I believe that Christian educators have a vital challenge to connect our students with the idea that the stewardship of sciences is a means to be truly human.” - Stephen Case


“This environment of Christ-centered higher education provides students with deep roots so that they can effectively weather the storms of life.”

Dr. Walter “Woody” Webb

’86/’88 M.A./’04 D.Litt. Vice President for Student Development

A few years ago, my staff and I read a book authored by Meg Jay entitled The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How To Make the Most of Them Now. It not only informed but also affirmed everything I believe about the impact four years on a university campus has on the future of 18–22-year-olds as they move into their late 20s and early 30s.

Because students enter Olivet at various points in their personal and spiritual maturity, part of my role is to ensure we meet students where they are and help cultivate an atmosphere of growth — the kind of growth that results in transformed lives. A part of that atmosphere requires that we enable a supportive environment for students to wrestle and perhaps fail along the way while we provide perspective and opportunities for growth.

Olivet provides opportunities for students to grow in their understanding of the world from a Biblical worldview. From the classroom to residential life and everything in between, Olivet provides a community of support. Common experiences like weekly chapel services and all-school events create an environment that fosters growth in every area of life.

It’s in the fertile soil of Olivet that foundations are laid through the combined experiences of students, faculty and staff when they live together in community.

I didn’t grow up in the Church, but a pastor and his wife took an interest in me when I was in high school because of my grandmother’s connection to the local Nazarene congregation. When it came time, they introduced me to Olivet. Although I didn’t know it when I arrived on campus at the age of 18, the University was exactly the kind of place I needed.

Pastor Lee and Davette planted the seeds of my faith, but it was my time at Olivet as a student where those seeds took root and my spiritual foundation was formed. My years as a student at Olivet were marked with tremendous spiritual growth and personal development.

I’m so grateful for the people in my life who invested in me through my high school years, and then for the Olivet professors and staff who truly cared about my personal and spiritual development. Those mentors and leaders cultivated growth in ways that have impacted the trajectory of my entire adult life.

I know firsthand that Olivet is the kind of place where students come to understand what is possible when they submit their lives to God and they take advantage of all that Olivet has to offer. This environment of Christ-centered higher education provides students with deep roots so that they can effectively weather the storms of life. It’s an amazing place for young adults to spend a season of life as they soak up knowledge, dig into their faith and ultimately graduate, ready to impact the world around them.

Illuminating Modern Science Through Academia

Early in his academic journey, Dr. Stephen Case ’05 was encouraged by his professors to pursue research and conference presentation opportunities. Those experiences helped him get comfortable dialoguing with other experts in the field and inspired a career in academia.

Dr. Case, who is now a professor and the director of the University Honors Program, and his colleague from the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study received an offer last fall from Cambridge University Press for their proposed manuscript, Cambridge Companion to John Herschel. The Cambridge Companion series offers accessible surveys of important historical figures suitable for undergraduate courses as well as general audiences. The timeline for the project coincides with Dr. Case’s second book on Herschel’s contributions to scientific advancements. Serving as a catalyst for the Herschel projects was a discussion panel Dr. Case and another colleague organized in 2019 in the Netherlands — a trip partially supported by a Hippenhammer Grant for Olivet faculty.

“Herschel was a person of deep Christian faith who believed strongly that the practice of science led to a deeper appreciation of God as Creator,” Dr. Case explains. “He was at the center of the scientific community during the height of the Industrial Revolution, and he was involved in so many things. If you want to know about measuring stars for the first time or the invention of photography or the rise of popular science writings, Herschel had a hand in all of it. I hope my research continues to show how significant Herschel’s influence and personal testimony were on the development of modern science.”

Academic work can be a slow process, and while research and publishing may not appeal to every college student, Dr. Case is adamant that lessons learned in the classroom can cultivate growth that will lead to successful harvests for years to come.

“In our teaching, we plant seeds that might not bear fruit for years,” he says. “Our research builds on what our predecessors have done to slowly, patiently build new knowledge. Even for students who aren’t planning to go into academia, we want to cultivate a portion of that mindset. The work of building a family, a home, a community, a church or a career — things that take time, diligence, patience and a mindset that doesn’t ignore the immediate but that keeps it in the context of what has gone before and building for the future — is an important contribution of the life of scholarship for everyone.”

Reading Truth To Encourage Spiritual Maturity

She Reads Truth co-founder Raechel (Pennington) Myers ’05 became a CEO at age 32 when there were only two other people in the company. Today, the She Reads Truth organization has 30 team members, including Raechel’s husband, Ryan Myers ’05, who serves as the chief operating officer.

“I thought I was cut out for the job, but I had no way of knowing,” she reflects. “As the team grew, I felt that the maximum number of team members who I could lead well was 12. I felt less qualified every day, but during that beautiful season of growth, God said, ‘You don’t need to be equipped for tomorrow; it’s about today.’

“I love being a CEO and have become really good at leading in that position, but that growth only happened because there were seeds God planted in me that He cultivated into fruition.”

Ten years ago, the She Reads Truth movement was started by a woman for women — not to be exclusive but to provide devotional materials that offered depth and Scriptural clarity to a specific audience. Eventually, the company was asked to publish a unique version of the Bible. To date, more than 500,000 copies have been sold.

“The opportunity to publish was something we said no to many times before we said yes,” she says. “The thought of having my name in a Bible or a part of someone’s quiet time with God was very holy ground. We created a Bible that is rather unique. Man’s words don’t share the page with God’s, and it’s printed in a different typeface. We approached that project very reverently, and the Lord blessed our efforts.”

After years of receiving feedback from men who were using their spouse’s or sibling’s materials, the company added He Reads Truth in 2015. The next year, Kids Read Truth developed with a purpose of teaching kids how to love God’s Word and increase in Biblical literacy.

“The beautiful thing about the last 10 years has not been what we’ve done or where we’ve taken the community,” she says. “It hasn’t even been about us at all. If we had known what we were building, we would have been overwhelmed. She Reads Truth started because God planted a seed in a person to desire Him. That’s the growth that matters to me.”

Breaking the Cycle of Generational Poverty

Shepherd Community Center is a nonprofit organization situated near the heart of Indianapolis. With a background in ministry, journalism and philanthropy, executive director Jay Height provides strategic leadership over the programs, which range from child care and preschool to an academy for kindergarten through fifth grade to post-high school mentorship to food pantry and counseling services for adults in the community. The impact of such work has been the mentorship of 500 students, serving 35,000 meals per year and more than 1,000 families receiving supportive care.

“Shepherd serves a challenged neighborhood by helping our neighbors break the cycle of poverty,” Jay says. “This happens when we replicate the same community as seen in the New Testament. When we live with our neighbors, we can serve beside them and help them grow their capacity to reduce dependency. We do what we do because of the faith in us. I truly believe it is in authentic relations that people see the hope we have and are drawn to that.”

“Content can come from many sources, but true community is built through love and sacrifice.” - Jay Height

Jay didn’t study at Olivet for his undergraduate years, but as a parent, adjunct professor, graduate student and employer, he is confident that the University provides excellence at all levels of study.

“Two Olivet graduates have served almost a decade at Shepherd and have grown to our senior leadership team,” he says. “I have seen my own children grow to be tremendous leaders, spouses, parents and followers of Jesus — encouraged and enhanced by their Olivet experience. Content can come from many sources, but true community is built through love and sacrifice.”

Inspirational Influence

Scott Lingle ’90 chose to attend Olivet because of a tennis scholarship and church friendships. However, his time at the University nurtured a faith-based understanding of and desire for lifelong learning.

After college, Scott worked for an insurance company, where he spent nearly 20 years learning from industry leaders. In his mid-40s, he felt a tug to build on his experience, stretch his leadership capacities and follow in the footsteps of his entrepreneurial parents. Seven years ago, Scott launched Remodel Health, a health insurance software company that has an overarching mission to benefit faith-based organizations. The thriving business has employed numerous ONU grads and earned accolades as one of the fastestgrowing companies as well as a Best Christian Workplace.

In 2019, Scott and his middle son, Ryan, a software engineer, launched the next generation of family business ventures: www. What began as a six-page document of Scott’s favorite learning resources was transformed into an app that provides a curated list of books, podcasts, YouTube videos and articles for a community of individuals who want to expand their sources of knowledge and influence.

“I have a real heart and passion for future entrepreneurs, and I feel like God has given me certain gifts,” Scott says. “So many entrepreneurs get burned out being single-minded in their focus. They often build their business at the expense of their marriage or family. I want to encourage people to pursue a thriving, faith-filled life in addition to building a career by sharing resources that may provide support and inspiration.”

Legacy of Leadership

Ken Moore ’14, an Olivet resident director (RD) and Army Reserve officer, learned a lot in his own ROTC and classroom experiences at Olivet. But he also acknowledges the impact that the campus culture, his peers and his mentors had on his leadership style.

“Every role I’ve had in my career has been centered on developing and fostering relationships, and Olivet is the place where I truly learned not just how but why it’s important,” he shares.

From his five years of experience as an RD in campus apartments to his work with training drill sergeants, Ken has seen similar personal growth moments through trials and triumphs in the men he now mentors.

“While I might hold the title of leader, the soldiers … I’ve been entrusted with make it one of the most rewarding jobs anyone can have,” Ken says. “In learning to manage a family, a full-time career and the needs of the Army, I’ve learned how to let controlled failure be the catalyst for growth in training and developing new skills. I think it’s important for Olivet students to find a similar point of discomfort so that they might find comfort in the process of continuous development. The most important growth they can experience is in their faith in Jesus Christ, but as our company often quotes President John F. Kennedy: ‘We do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’”

“The most important growth they can experience is in their faith in Jesus Christ.” - Ken Moore

Building the Kingdom in Kankakee County

In fall 2021, the Kingdom Builders campus ministry club (formerly associated with Habitat for Humanity) was introduced to a local woman who had lost her husband and needed help outfitting a tiny house. Throughout the school year, student volunteers have made multiple trips to her residence to install insulation and drywall while also forming a friendship with the owner.

“This has been the most impactful opportunity because we met this woman in the midst of her deepest grief and were able to support her,” says club co-leader Desirae Welk. “Seeing her perseverance and the way she continues to fight to love others and surround herself with community is inspirational.

“It is important for Olivet students to get involved in the surrounding towns because there are so many situations, connections and people that you will never interact with or witness on a college campus.

“Helping people is eye-opening and humbling in so many ways. One of the many things I have learned from getting off campus and engaging with people in the community is that no matter how rough another person's situation may seem, there is still so much strength and beauty in the way they build their lives to withstand the trials they face every day.”


“The influence that Olivet alumni have on the world is impossible to quantify.”

Erika Moeschke

’12/’19 MBA Director of Annual Campaign Strategies and Community Development

The college experience can include some of the most pivotal and transformative years for students. The opportunity to explore and realize the passions God has placed on the hearts of students is truly remarkable. Seeing students come in to bloom, if you will, and being a part of that journey is a privilege. As students realize their potential and invest in the community around them, it is a beautiful thing to behold.

Working in the field of fundraising at a higher education institution is a unique and rewarding experience. For me, it truly is a calling. Two of my greatest passions in life are education and helping others, and my role provides me the opportunity to blend those passions together. I have the privilege of working to raise financial support to help turn education into a reality for college students.

These critical years of development provide space for young adults to grow into their own personhood and determine who it is God has called them to be. Students hone their skills, build lifelong friendships, determine their career paths, and grow personally, professionally and spiritually.

One of the special ways in which I have the privilege of helping make these opportunities possible is through Olivet’s annual Day of Giving. This initiative began in 2016 but has grown to involve our entire campus community, giving everyone a path of support to make unique experiences available to students. Last year’s projects submitted for funding ranged from research opportunities to scholarship support for first-generation college students to new equipment and resources for athletic teams. The day resulted in record support from nearly 500 campus partners who believed in the value of Christian higher education. Their generosity funded new opportunities that would not have been possible otherwise.

For generations, Olivet has provided a nurturing environment for people of every walk of life to come into bloom. Students not only receive an excellent education at Olivet, but they also thrive in campus experiences through extracurricular activities, ministry opportunities, athletics and so much more. But what makes this experience so valuable is the foundation the University provides for graduates to flourish far beyond the graduation stage. The influence that Olivet alumni have on the world is impossible to quantify, but the stories I hear from donors and people in the community constantly remind me that our mission of providing an “Education With a Christian Purpose” is one that bears essential fruit not only in the short term but for years to come.

Caleb Benoit ’06 Founder, Connect Roasters

Olivet is a place where I spent some of the most formative years of my life, and I’m thankful to live and work in the same community. We care about the community we operate in, we place a high priority on being good stewards, and we view the world through a global lens.

As a journalism major, I spent a lot of time in the communications department, and most of the upper-level classes were with Gregg Chenoweth. He's someone who has been a huge encouragement to me, not just in my time as a student but in the years since. He saw potential in me and invested time and energy in me, and I think everyone who goes on to be successful — or just grows into being a healthy, mature adult — has at least a couple people like that in their lives.

I was fortunate to be able to work in journalism while at Olivet and for several years after graduating, and as far as work goes, that will probably always be my first love. But since then, I've been able to travel a ton, and I lived in France and Canada for a while. Currently, I’m operating a coffee business called Connect Roasters, which has been the most difficult thing I've done so far — but also the most rewarding.

The original vision was to build a company that would use coffee as a vehicle to improve people's lives, and I'm proud to say that we are doing that today. Several years ago, I went on a volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic. It set me down a path of thinking that I wanted to contribute to help a problem that I saw in a more long-term method than a mission trip. We take a resource that is grown in developing countries, bring it to the U.S., roast it and sell it, and use a portion of the sales to invest back in the communities.

We have expanded to build domestic partnerships with local nonprofits such as the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The organization operates as the city of Chicago's food bank and supplies more than 700 Cook County food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. We started working together toward the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and, to date, sales of Connect coffee have provided about 25,000 meals through the Food Depository network to those in need. We're excited to continue growing our support of organizations like that and making an even bigger impact.

“We care about the community we operate in, we place a high priority on being good stewards, and we view the world through a global lens.” - Caleb Benoit

Alexi Zastrow ’21 Ph.D. Candidate, The Mayo Clinic

After my junior year at Olivet, I was disheartened when I did not receive a solid offer for any of the summer research internships I applied to. However, Dr. Dan Sharda recognized my passion for research while I was a student in one of his classes, and he approached me with an opportunity to conduct summer research at the University. Through the generous support of the University’s Pence- Boyce Research Committee and ONU Catalyst, I completed a 10-week internship in which I explored how a combination of phytonutrients could provide synergistic inhibition of M1- macrophage activation.

My summer experience resulted in submitting an abstract to the Experimental Biology Conference and solidifying a relationship with a local company, FutureCeuticals, to continue the research. The following summer, I was accepted to several summer research fellowships, and I secured a position as a summer research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. These experiences fostered my passion for research and solidified my career aspirations.

My motivation for applying specifically to the immunology track at Mayo Clinic’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science was a combination of familiarity with immunology from my Pence-Boyce experience and a profound understanding of the promise of immunotherapies. For example, my grandfather was diagnosed with melanoma during my junior year of college. The recently approved immunotherapies, some of which were discovered by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, were foundational to the development of the immunotherapy treatment that prolonged my grandfather’s life and gave him extra time to share more memories with our family.

I was drawn to the program at Mayo because of the collaboration between clinicians and researchers. The proximity of the hospital allows for unparalleled access to patient samples. I found camaraderie in the fierce and collective desire to provide novel therapies for patients in the future. In whatever job I find myself in, I know that I feel intensely invested in mentoring the next generation of scientists from my time as a teaching assistant in the biology department and tutor in the Academic Coaching Center at Olivet.

I realize that the more I understand complex biological pathways, the more questions need to be answered. Graduate school is a time of intense intellectual exploration. Experiments fail more often than succeed, which fosters an atmosphere of continual growth both as a scientist and person. I constantly find myself humbled by the complexity of creation. I approach each experiment with an attitude of awe because I realize that when there are novel results, this finding is only known between God and me. I find great joy in telling others more about His creation.

Senior Natalie Cook Student Body President

Truthfully, I struggled with the idea of coming to Olivet while I was in high school. As someone who was known for being shy and quiet, I tried to get involved right away to help break out of my shell. I ran for freshman class council and didn’t get voted on, which I took pretty hard. I think I bloomed where I was planted by taking that as an opportunity to get plugged in through other activities and not be discouraged to run again the next year.

My sophomore year, I served as a resident assistant (RA) and on class council, worked at the Ludwig information desk, interned at a local church and took photos for the Office of Marketing. I was so overwhelmed in all that I did that I wasn’t taking time to look in the mirror and figure out who I was. One of my ministry professors, Dr. Teresa Garner, was crucial in helping me to slow down and be rather than do.

Entering my junior year, I felt like a completely different person. I was still involved, serving as an RA again and as junior class president, but I served to give back to the community that shaped me rather than to prove my significance and make myself indispensable.

As a freshman, speaking in front of any class or group made me extremely anxious. Now in my senior year, I have made speeches at freshman orientation and the Presidential Inauguration and can lead weekly student council meetings of 50 people without thinking twice.

Education is a large and significant part of college, but Olivet is also a place of great community. It is truly a unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do life with people your age with similar beliefs and passions. Whether it’s being a part of a club or joining a ministry, the extracurricular opportunities at Olivet are great for both personal and professional development.

The shy, quiet freshman who walked into Olivet never would have thought she could speak at orientations or an inauguration, and she couldn’t have — not without the roles that have shaped her throughout these four years. Getting involved is a great opportunity to meet new people and encounter situations that will stretch you in beneficial ways.

I’ve learned that growth isn’t linear and that hardships are inevitable. Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 has been a source of wisdom for me to look at during difficult times through college. It serves as a reminder that God is there through not only the good but also the heartbreaking and harrowing. I learned that, through God, it is possible to grow through hardships. His constant presence and love have helped me as I’ve gone through life-changing experiences such as loss, but also as I’ve grown into the person I am today.

“God is there through not only the good but also the heartbreaking and harrowing.” - Natalie Cook