Blake Johnson – The Path Less Traveled

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The city of Olivet is at the heart of small-town America, and the college campus has all the qualities you could ever expect from a quaint, peaceful town. For some students from larger cities, the adjustment to campus living is quite the adventure, and for standout senior Blake Johnson, it was a similar story.
Blake grew up and went to high school in Lincoln Park, where he spent most of his life “a stone’s throw away” from the Motor City, as he’d say. In a graduating class of roughly 500 students, an opportunity to continue post-secondary education can sometimes be overlooked because of attending a school of that size. And, because of the large class sizes, Blake wasn’t sure about attending college. That was until he heard about Olivet.
“The first time I heard about Olivet I got called to the athletic director’s office [at Lincoln Park] and my offensive line coach, who was the recruiter for my area, was there and he told me about The University of Olivet,” Blake said. “They wanted me to play football here, and I looked more into it, did the online application, came on my football visit and that was the end of that.”
Blake immediately fell in love with the small-town environment the city of Olivet had to offer. After visiting The University of Olivet for the first time, Blake knew that this was the place he wanted to call home for the next four years. Although sports were a large factor in his attendance, the education is what drew him further. He believed that the small class sizes and unique academic environment granted him the chance to be the college student he wanted to be, knowing he may not have gotten that same good fortune at another institution.
“I remember that epiphanous moment of ‘Wow these classes are small. I’m about it,’” Blake said. Before his recruiter had even begun to speak to Blake about the possibility of playing football at Olivet, he knew he was going to come here. When they told him the average class size, his response was “Phenomenal; let’s go here.”
Blake’s path to academic success was unorthodox, but with the help of his academic advisers and his trust in his professors, he was able to piece together his own approach to where he wanted to be. Blake undertook three major changes in four years. Starting as a physical education major he tried different subjects, taking classes in history, math and biology, before switching to exercise science. Later realizing he could not see himself with a position in that field, he wanted to change again.
Unsure of what to do next, Blake stated that he “practically picked a major out of a hat” and stuck with it. He chose English and fell in love with it. Maybe his choice was not as random as it might have seemed at the time, but Blake understands why he feels so connected with the subject. He loves his choice because studying English has helped him grow to become a better person and student.
“I believe that you can become a better person, and a more empathetic person, through reading books,” Blake said. The influence of the English language continues through a saying Blake has always repeated and believed in: “If you can understand a character from a book in five pages, you can understand a person if you talk to them for five minutes.”
From books like “As I Lay Dying” and “The Color Purple,” the greater learning and understanding taught from English have impacted his personal life and become something of a hobby as well. Blake even asked his mother for books for Christmas one year, much to her surprise.
Blake’s career goals are to establish the kind of support and assistance he received at Olivet as a football coach and high school teacher. To him though, it truly does not matter if he coaches or not. He just wishes to be in a position where he can teach and educate others the way he was taught here at Olivet.
Being a successful teacher would be the same if he was coaching football, and a player of his were to make a great play, Blake said. “I’m going to get just as excited when I’m teaching a student how to use the correct ‘your/you’re’ and they finally get it. I know I’ll get excited about it because I taught someone something and they’re smarter and better for it.”
Blake will finish his degree this fall and plans to complete his online certification through the state of Michigan to teach secondary education.
Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu.


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