Brian Freiberger ’19 — Back to His Roots

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When Brian Freiberger graduated from The University of Olivet in 2019, he found career opportunities in big cities working in marketing and sales. But, he decided he wanted to go back to his roots as a writer and photographer and needed to return to a quiet lifestyle after living in the city. Brian said, “At the end of the day, I looked myself in the mirror and decided I wanted to go back to writing and photography specifically.”

Brian is originally from Onsted, Michigan. In high school, Brian’s passion and talent for sports were apparent. Olivet’s football coach visited Onsted High School and talked to Brian about playing football for The University of Olivet.

“I was considering going into the Marines after high school because academics were not my passion,” Brian said. “I had a change of heart and focused on my studies, and I got into OC. The College gave me opportunities to better myself at a time when I really didn’t know what the future held, and it was a great opportunity for me. I’m super lucky and very thankful to have found OC because it’s a great place.”

At The University of Olivet, Brian majored in journalism and mass communication, which has since been renamed the media production and communication major. Along with being a member of the football team, Brian worked as the editor of the student-led newspaper, The Echo. He also interned with the The University of Olivet Marketing Department and spent numerous hours volunteering and traveling on service trips.

Brian formed an interest in journalism and photography in high school, and his time at OC allowed him to hone his passion and skills. Currently, Brian works for the Leelanau Enterprise as a writer and photographer. He focuses on events in the southwest portion of his county in the Empire, Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes area. He covers high school sports and local government, but his main role is writing feature stories. Brian said, “As a small town writer and photographer, you really have an unlimited range of topics you can cover and discuss. I never know from day-to-day what I’m going to get to experience or who I’m going to encounter. I really just talk to and photograph cool, interesting people from around the area, and I feel honored to tell their stories.”

In the future, Brian hopes to work for or contribute to a national publication. “One of my big aspirations is to do a lot of freelancing and become an independent entity. I want to be able to travel to places that I would never have imagined and talk to people I would never encounter otherwise. My goal is to tell their stories and build relationships around the world,” Brian explained. “I am just trying to get better every day, and wherever that leads me is going to be good for me and as long as I’ve given 100% of myself. That is definitely one thing I’m very grateful for learning at OC — that you have to work hard and chase your dreams. Not only am I focused on becoming a better professional, but also a better human being and a person.”

In addition to career preparation, Brian formed many relationships with professors and mentors at Olivet. He is especially grateful to Professor Joanne Williams for encouraging him to follow his dreams. Brian said, “The biggest thing that OC taught me about journalism is how to talk to people, even strangers, and build relationships. Joanne was always supportive in whatever I wanted to do and always offered me guidance. That really gave me the confidence to work for The Echo and pursue some other avenues as well in the mass communication field.”

Not only did Professor Williams support Brian in his academic and professional endeavors, she also supported him through personal challenges. During his sophomore year, Brian got the unfortunate news that his best friend from home had passed away. He couldn’t reach his friends or family in Onsted and didn’t know what to do. Brain said, “I was kind of freaking out. I didn’t really know what was going on, and then I go to Joanne’s office and she just stopped everything. She was there for me in that moment. I think right then I knew that this is the place. She was there at the time when I was most vulnerable, and she made me feel like family.”

Brian credits many others with providing an excellent support system for him at The University of Olivet, including Mike and Judy Fales, Daine Pavloski, Coach Moose, Coach Maloney, Michele McCauley, Brenda Hopkins, President Corey, Richard Lehman, Pat Fields and many more. “Everyone there along the way gave me a piece of advice or a lesson,” Brian said.

Today, Brian still stays connected with his Comet family and recently visited campus during Homecoming. He said, “The connections you build on campus are a great thing because building connections at OC trains you to build connections anywhere you go. The only way I have been able to go anywhere worthwhile is because of help from really nice people.”

Brian would encourage high school students to attend Olivet because students are known by name. Brian said, “A lot of high school students go to big schools, and that’s great because some people do well in that environment. But, if you really thrive in a direct learning environment where you can get extra help when you need it and you have many people who really understand you, a small college like Olivet is the right choice.”

Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu.

Audrey Helfrich is a senior majoring in media production and communication. She serves as an intern in the marketing and communications department and is especially interested in photography. After graduation, Audrey plans to continue her work as a freelance photographer, specializing in wedding, senior and family portraits. She also hopes to work in a marketing department for a small business or nonprofit organization.


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