A Place Where Students are Challenged

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Nataliya Malaydakh ’19

A building can be more than just a structure that stands permanently in once place – the case for Mott Academic Center, the 50-year-old heart of The University of Olivet learning and development. Nearly every student’s educational journey includes Mott at the core, but more importantly, the relationships and memories that were created within. The building is named for Charles Stewart Mott, an engineer and entrepreneur, but also a philanthropist and public servant. Like the founders of The University of Olivet, Charles Mott was forward thinking and dedicated to helping others be more and do good.

In the spring issue of Shipherd’s Record, a special collection of stories shared more about Mott Academic Center’s past and future in “If These Walls Could Talk.” Mott has not stood still. It is alive, and it’s moving toward the next 50 years. This piece was written by Nataliya Malaydakh ’19, sharing a look into her college journey as an international student from Ukraine, and how Mott Academic Center has shaped her educational experience. Read the full magazine online now.

The morning rush, sincere greetings passed from one to another, the smell of coffee, students nervously looking through their notes while others eagerly listened to lectures – this was the atmosphere that I encountered when I first walked into Mott Academic Center. I was surrounded by all this pleasant chaos, and in that moment I knew something special was about to happen.

I quickly learned that The University of Olivet is the place where students are challenged to think outside the box on a daily basis and are provided with a world of endless possibilities. Mott Academic Center is a place of knowledge, a place where staff and professors give everything they know to their students to ensure the success of every individual.

I am an international student from Ukraine, and when I first arrived at Olivet I knew that I wanted to make a difference. A lot of my accomplishments and achievements started in Mott’s classrooms and offices. I knew I had to take advantage of what Olivet had to offer and dove right into the opportunities on campus. Diversity, acceptance of one’s ethnicity and inclusion of any culture created a great environment for my personal growth and development. I have received multiple invitations to be a guest speaker and share my personal story, which also allowed me to share a taste of Ukrainian cuisine and culture. Further, it gave me a chance to connect with fellow students and educate them about current events and the Ukrainian Revolution – things I experienced firsthand.

I was even elected to serve as president of the Student Government Association, a position that has shaped me into a strong female leader on campus. It allowed me to use my leadership skills to make The University of Olivet a better place. My goal was to become a link between the needs and desires of the student body and college officials. As a result, I created a strong and powerful team that can rely on one another, and together work with dignity and passion toward the creation of a positive change.

We spend countless late night hours at the student government office in Mott Academic Center, preparing for meetings, writing agendas, generating ideas to improve communication and ensuring that students’ voices are being heard. Mott Auditorium is a place where leaders from every club and organization come together monthly and share their concerns and goals. It is always fascinating to hear of all the clubs’ achievements and how student government can help every individual develop into a strong leader.

My unique story, my drive for success and vision for a better future of The University of Olivet started in Mott Academic Center. It is a place where professors and staff members see me as an individual who is eager to learn and to be challenged. I am majoring in history with minors in political science and mass communication. I hope one day to earn an international law degree and make a positive change in the international communities around the world.

Mott Academic Center is the place where my passions have been allowed to flourish. These walls have known me since the beginning of my journey; they have seen my struggles, they have seen my progress and they know that my best is yet to come.


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