Breanna (Bath) O’Keefe’s ’08 remembers an overwhelming sense of belonging at The University of Olivet during just her first visit to campus. At the time, she was committed to attend a Division I university in Michigan, but a small part of her thought there may be a better fit at a different college. As Breanna explored campus on an unofficial tour, Dean and Provost Maria Davis, Ph.D., took notice and gave her a personal tour of the science department. It’s this personalized attention and familial relationships that drove Breanna to become a Comet and stay engaged with The University of Olivet over the decade since her graduation.
To Be a Comet
Breanna is guided by the principle of social responsibility in her professional career and personal life. While a student at The University of Olivet, she majored in biology and biochemistry with a pre-medical concentration, graduating in the top five of her class and earning the Donald A. Morris Academic Excellence Award. Today, Breanna is a primary care physician and board certified in family medicine. She is also a member of the American Academy of Family Practice, American Osteopathic Association and the Michigan Osteopathic Association.
Breanna is especially passionate about caring for children who are possible victims of sexual abuse and serves this population in a multitude of ways. She regularly volunteers her time to interview and examine child victims, striving to provide a safe and benevolent environment for them. She also serves on the acquisition committee for Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center, raising funds for children of abuse to receive therapy at no cost.
Further, Breanna has served in the South Church Nursery, attended a medical mission trip to Guatemala, participated on the Special Olympics Medical Team, taken on the role as a peer mentor and currently serves as a youth soccer coach.
Breanna has also stayed engaged with the college, serving as a guest speaker in many science classrooms and on the 2017 Cultivating Women Leader’s Alumnae Panel. She is a professional who conducts herself with honesty and integrity, constantly striving to make the world a better place by contributing to the learning of others and service to her community.
Drive to Serve
For Breanna, her service to the community fulfills her passion for helping others. While her efforts are intentional, they are hardly a planned effort. Rather, Breanna naturally finds ways to give back, including her drive to work in the medical field.
“It’s in my blood to be a physician,” Breanna explained. “I love medicine and being able to help people. I think it’s special to be with someone in their most vulnerable times, and to be able to provide personal and emotional support on a medical level. I’m proud to help people get through that.”
Breana’s understanding of the impact a relationship can have stems from her time as a student. The small class sizes at The University of Olivet allowed Breanna to build personal connections with her professors, who became some of her closest mentors and biggest supporters through her time as a student and beyond. In addition, Breanna had a similar experience with her soccer coach, who helped her find her niche with the team as an assistant coach even after a series of injuries caused by a mobility disorder ended her playing career.
“The dedication to my studies and close relationships with my professors instilled a value of not just passing, but thriving in my studies and throughout all areas of life,” said Breanna. “I’ve continued to hold a sense of pride to do well and push myself.” It’s this life outlook that Breanna attributes to helping her become the person she is today.
A Time to Connect and Celebrate
“It is very humbling to have been nominated for the Young Alumni Award, and I am touched to receive the award,” Breanna exclaimed. “I’m proud to show my kids that the things they do now really pay off and make a difference. This award really means that the work I’m doing is making a difference, but I don’t do it for the recognition. It just means the world to me and is an amazing feeling as a mom that I’m teaching my kids you can do good.”
In addition to being honored as a Young Alumna, Breanna will also celebrate a very special milestone this Homecoming – the Class of 2008 10-year reunion. She has played an integral role in inviting fellow class members back to campus to reconnect, and the class will be featured at the Red and White Reunion Tailgate prior to the football game on Saturday, Sept. 29. Join Breanna and her classmates for a full picnic lunch, music, entertainment for the whole family and more.
“I really encourage my classmates to come to The University of Olivet this Homecoming for our 10-year reunion,” Breanna said. “We’re providing a real place to get together, and we understand family is very important. This event is very family-centric, giving a lot of people the opportunity to come back and share what they are most proud of since graduating.”
Learn more about 2018 Homecoming and OC’s 175th anniversary celebration. Registration is available at the Welcome Center in Mott Academic Center on Sept. 28 and 29. The Alumni Awards Celebration Friday, Sept. 28., will also honor Mike Fales ’75 and Lou Diaz ’59 as Distinguished Alumni, and Laura Fiorino ’02, Chris Gumper ’96, Vern Hazard ’83, David Millward ’97 and Kathy (Hughes) Roche-Wallace ’00 will be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame.