Become a Student Mentor

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Helping Students Choose the Right Path

Being a college student is filled with difficult, albeit exciting, choices. It starts at the end of high school, when seniors are poring over college websites and applications, considering financial aid packages and trying to determine which school is the right fit. Then comes the important task of choosing a major, pursuing the degree and the most agonizing decision of all – what do I want to be when I finish college?

Even for students like 2014 graduate Maria “Ximena” Loza-Lopez, a motivated self-starter who excelled through her education at Olivet, those tough decisions often left her second-guessing. But with a little help from one particular alumnus, Loza-Lopez is now certain she’s made the right choice for her career.

“I knew that I chose the right major at The University of Olivet – chemistry with a biology minor,” she said. “But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to dental school or become a doctor. I was so undecided. It wasn’t until I met Dr. Hodge that the answer became clear.”

During her freshman year, Loza-Lopez explained her difficult decision to Ronda Miller, former associate dean of academic affairs and director of the Gruen and Speare Student Resource Center. Miller recognized that an alumni/student mentorship might help her toward a solution. “Ronda suggested that I job shadow a friend of hers who is a physician at Sparrow Hospital,” Loza-Lopez said. Miller then helped her connect with Tim Hodge, D.O., a 1983 alumnus who also serves the The University of Olivet Board of Trustees.

“That entire summer, Dr. Hodge let me follow him around the hospital and had me observe other residents and doctors as well,” Loza-Lopez said. “He told me to go wherever there was action. From day one, I learned what working in a hospital environment is truly like. The very first patient I observed was going into cardiac arrest and a resident had to do a central line – there were nurses and techs running around everywhere. At first it was awful because I thought I might pass out! But it was also amazing. After that first day, I don’t get that feeling anymore.”

Currently working as a scribe at Sparrow, Loza-Lopez documents patients’ medical histories and physical exams, tracks the progress of diagnostic studies and reviews charts for complete and accurate documentation. Now that she has completed her bachelor’s degree at Olivet, she plans to enroll in medical school. With Hodge’s guidance and the experience she is getting at Sparrow, that decision was an easy one.

“Knowing that Dr. Hodge is an Olivet alumnus and had gone through a similar college experience, I took all of his advice to heart,” Loza-Lopez added. “After doing the job shadow, I was certain that I wanted to become a doctor.”

The University of Olivet alumni/student mentorships provide a unique benefit – beyond internships and classroom learning, the student can relate to someone who lived on the same campus, took similar classes and also worked closely with professors in a small campus setting.

Alumni who are interested in mentoring a student should contact Diane Kirkham at the Gruen and Speare Student Resource Center: 269.749.7437.


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