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A Founders’ Day Reflection by Brionne White

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During The University of Olivet’s celebration of its 180th Founders’ Day on Feb. 21, 2024, Brionne White was one of four students to share their reflections on their time at The University of Olivet.

From the beginning, the goal and mission of Founding Father John J. Shipherd has been to provide an education that enriches lives intellectually, morally, and spiritually, regardless of race, gender or financial means. As an African American woman, this is a message that touches me deeply in several ways. At a time when someone like me would have been turned away for the color of my skin, or because I am a woman, Father Shipherd made it possible for all people to get an education.  

Since I have started here at Olivet, there has not been any opportunity that has been inaccessible to me because of who I am. If anything, Olivet has made sure that all of their students can and do feel accepted and safe here on campus. “We wish simply to do good by our students… and to teach them the divine art and science of doing good to others” is a guiding principle established by Father Shipherd that Olivet undoubtedly follows to this day.  

With small, intimate class sizes, and a 13 to 1 student to staff ratio, Olivet makes sure the focus is on the student and their learning and performance, rather than just giving out grades and finishing courses. This ensures that even the most struggling students will have access to the best education from faculty. 

My time here at Olivet has been nothing short of what Father Shipherd strived to do over 180 years ago. Not only have I had access to many opportunities, but I have also been in several clubs, old and new, the president of two organizations, built relationships with students and faculty that I will cherish, and gotten an education that I can most certainly be proud of.  

Father Shipherd gave me a place where I could be me with no obstacles preventing that. It has allowed to me to grow at my own pace, with no ridicule or backlash from others. It has been an encouragement to me over the years that I will forever be grateful for. Father Shipherd has done for me what he has done for others in the past and what he will do for others in the future; given us a space where no matter the circumstance, you can come and be the best individual you can be, even if the world is against it.

Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admission at admissions@UOlivet.edu or 269-749-7635.

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