It didn’t take freshman Ariel Floyd long to embrace President Steven M. Corey’s, Ph.D., advice to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Living away from home, and in Ariel’s case her twin sister, for the first time and adjusting to new surroundings is enough to make any student uneasy, but she went a step farther. Ariel eagerly declared a major in criminal justice and is tackling challenging courses in only her second semester. In addition, she joined the track and field team and even stepped up to compete in throwing events she had never tried before.
Hailing from Mount Clemens not far from Detroit, Ariel was used to life in the big city and attended a high school that served nearly 2,400 students. When she first visited The University of Olivet, she was smitten with the small town charm and beauty of campus, but that wasn’t the best part. Ariel soon realized that the faculty, staff and students at OC were just as welcoming.
“Everyone at The University of Olivet has been really nice, kind and generous to me,” Ariel explained. “I just wouldn’t make it in a big school. I’ve always been shy, but regardless, I’ve gotten to know so many people at Olivet and it’s really helped me come out of my shell. I also love the atmosphere. Not only is it really convenient to have everything you need so close together, it’s also a major stress reliever.”
Discovering her Inner Superhero
Following a passion from high school, Ariel jumped at the chance to join the track and field team. While she had experience competing as a runner, she had never tried her hand at throwing until her coaches at OC suggested she should. This spring, Ariel has competed in the 100, 200, shot put, discus throw and hammer throw, staking her claim at the top of the conference. Once in March and again and April she was even named the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) Outdoor Field Athlete of the Week.
“I just love track and field,” Ariel exclaimed. “The discus has become my favorite event – I feel like a superhero anytime I’m throwing. I’m on a mission to gain more recognition for field events. They require really strong technique, which is hard to perfect, but I enjoy the challenge.” Ariel added that the discus throw involves a round, flat disc weighing one kilogram with a diameter of 18 centimeters. The shot is a round ball weighing 4 kilograms, and the hammer is a metal ball attached to a steel wire grip weighing 4 kilograms and 119.4 centimeters in length.
Currently, Ariel’s 133 feet and 4 inch throw in the hammer, a season-best for her, ranks second in the 2018 MIAA standings. Head track and field coach Karen Lutzke said, “Ariel’s hard work is paying off, as she has been making huge improvements the past month. We are looking forward to seeing how well she does for the rest of her freshman season.”
Ariel credits Coach Lutzke, track and field throwing coach Cynthia Watt, and the rest of her teammates in helping her overcome her shy demeanor. “My coaches and team have been really fun and welcoming, while also challenging me to be the best version of myself. If I’m ever acting shy or standing in the corner, they go out of their way to pull me in and make me feel included. They might not realize it, but I appreciate that so much. With their support, I’m working to improve my form and really hope I can break some records this season – and make my team proud!”
From One Team to Another
Playing team sports growing up has also inspired Ariel to work in a field where she can be part of a team. She is majoring in criminal justice and aspires to work as a detective or in the police force. Ariel says she has always admired the way law enforcement officials come together to solve crimes and help victims and their families. In just under a year, she has already developed a strong foundation of criminal justice skills, including understanding how an investigation operates, different positions in the field, the importance of following laws and regulations, court procedures and more by studying actual cases and learning from professors’ personal experiences.
“Just like my coaches, my professors have gone out of their way to help me feel comfortable and show me that I can ask them anything,” Ariel explained. “They care about me like a true friend would, and joke around with students like friends do. Phil Reed, associate professor of criminal justice, is my adviser. While some students don’t see past his tough exterior, he’s already shown me just how kind and supportive he is.”
Even though Ariel’s college journey has just begun, The University of Olivet has already exceeded her expectations. It hasn’t always been easy to adjust to life without her family by her side, but Ariel is proud of her new found independence and excited for the future. Her only goals are to keep improving and learning – both in the classroom and on the field – working hard, surprising herself and enjoying being a Comet.
Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone
“I was supposed to go to a college closer to my home, but I have ended up loving The University of Olivet and know many other students will as well,” Ariel explained. “If something is scary but could lead to a great outcome, you just have to go for it. Sometimes that means forcing yourself to talk to someone new or getting out of your dorm room, and sometimes that means not being afraid to attend college far away from home or trying a new sport. Every time I have put myself out there it has led to great things.”
Learn more about The University of Olivet and opportunities for track and field athletes by visiting campus or attending an upcoming admissions event. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.