Sophomore Hezekiah Turner has his sights set on opening a music store in his future, and is taking advantage of opportunities on campus to help him reach his goal. Hezekiah knows running a business will take strong foundational skills, paired with a network of connections, excellent communication, expert problem solving abilities and much more, but he’s learned the key to developing his resume in such a wide variety of areas is to be involved in a diverse array of clubs and organizations on campus.
Hailing from Detroit, Hezekiah first learned of The University of Olivet while his mom was assisting him in his college search. He can still remember his first visit to campus, and has since stayed connected with his tour guide, junior Sabrina Butler, and the very first professor he met, Mike Oyster ’77, department chair and assistant professor of business administration. Now a business management major, Hezekiah has continued to grow his relationship with Professor Oyster and even calls him one of his most influential professors.
“Visiting The University of Olivet was a really memorable experience for me,” Hezekiah explained. “The admissions team worked with me to answer all my questions and made me feel confident in my future. Meeting with Professor Oyster really stands out as well. He shared his own story with me, explaining how he is a graduate of Olivet and had a really successful career, and now wants to help students do the same. It was unlike anything else I experienced.”
Taking the First Step
Like performing a difficult song – warming up before hitting the high notes – Hezekiah adjusted to campus life before fully immersing himself in clubs, music ensembles, Greek life, leadership training institutes and more. He first connected with Gospel Choir director La’Rae Trice after overhearing the group rehearse. Hezekiah joined the ensemble right away, and even earned a Talent Scholarship for his involvement with the Gospel Choir the following year. Growing up, Hezekiah’s mother sang in a church choir, and shared her talent and passion with him and his two brothers.
“I’ve grown a lot vocally while at The University of Olivet, even though joining the Gospel Choir wasn’t necessarily part of my college plan,” Hezekiah said. “It’s been a great experience to expand on the skills my mom taught me, and Professor Trice even teaches in the same style that my mom does, so I really enjoy that. Being part of a college music ensemble has given me great mentors, a chance to network and many friendships with others who share the same passion that I do.”
Fostering Diversity and Inclusivity
In addition, Hezekiah joined the College Choir and excitedly jumped at the chance to become a member of the Black Student Union (BSU), a group that has a strong commitment to recognizing and fostering the diversity on campus. He currently serves as secretary for the organization and plays a large role in the group’s organization and planning. An extension of his passion for the arts, Hezekiah even helped host a poetry night event on campus with the help of BSU, aiming to provide a space for students to come together and express themselves.
Noticing the impact he could have on campus and further devoting himself to providing an inclusive campus community, Hezekiah joined the Xicano Club, designed to represent Mexican-American students by sharing their culture with the broader community, but he wasn’t done there. Hezekiah also pledged to the Alpha Phi Kappa fraternity, established in 1997 to promote better understanding between cultures and endorse brotherhood among its membership.
“I just really enjoy bringing people together and being a part of something larger than just myself,” Hezekiah emphasized. “Everyone I meet at The University of Olivet is great to connect with, especially the alumni I’ve met through my Greek house. You have the chance to bond with so many people and meet others with different types of personalities. I don’t think students at larger universities have the same opportunity.”
Expanding his Range
Most recently, Hezekiah was even selected to be part of the invitation-only President’s Leadership Institute, established to develop leadership in Olivet’s top students, as well as enable them to become the principal professional and community leaders of the future. He graduated from the program in March and is taking away a newfound approach to creating high performing teams, which he is certain to put into action in the many clubs and organizations he is part of.
Utilizing time management skills to squeeze every opportunity out of his college journey, Hezekiah decided to get involved with the The University of Olivet Archives to honor and preserve the history that created such a great institution. He is especially interested in helping digitalize the collection and creating an online community. Hezekiah also says he was fortunate to find an outstanding mentor through his experience in Nikki Magie, Ph.D., The University of Olivet archivist and assistant professor of social science.
“I really like the way Dr. Magie teaches,” Hezekiah explained. “She encourages students to expand our worldview, but takes it step by step and never rushes us. I’m appreciative of the way she works with each student to understand our strength and weaknesses and helps us build both. All my professors get to know their students, and that’s one of my favorite things at Olivet.”
Creating a Successful Future
Inspired to continue furthering his worldview, Hezekiah even went on an alternative spring break trip to Houston, Texas this spring. The group renovated flood-damaged homes after Hurricane Harvey devastated the area in 2017. Students worked with SBP, an organization aimed at disaster relief. Hezekiah was so strongly impacted by the experience he’s even exploring additional opportunities to volunteer with SBP.
In the near future, Hezekiah is excited to continue life as a Comet, but isn’t done getting involved on campus. Next year he’s looking forward to joining the Hiram Archer Scholars, a group dedicated to improving engagement and success of black and African American students through mentoring and other support functions, and participating in more service learning opportunities.
“I see making a difference like a learning opportunity for myself as well,” Hezekiah said. “I’m always learning how to work with different people, networking, communicating and bettering myself too. I’m going to keep building on the things I’ve learned and am looking forward to teaching others the same thing. My ultimate goal is to create a more unified campus, but I know my efforts here will also prepare me for my career.”
Learn more about the boundless opportunities for students at The University of Olivet by scheduling a campus visit or applying. Connect with the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.