Jennifer (Elliston) Ackett ’17 — Finding Her True Path

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Jennifer (Elliston) Ackett ’17 came to Olivet with the intention of starting her journey to become a medical doctor, but along the way she found her true path of becoming a physician assistant (PA). Jennifer is from Battle Creek, and great scholarship opportunities played a big role in her decision to attend OC.

While at Olivet, Jennifer double majored in biology and biochemistry, graduating in just three-and-a-half years. Jennifer spent her time at Olivet involved in many different organizations and activities. She was a part of the soccer team, Sigma Beta, MAPS, Gruen Chemistry Society and Earthbound on campus.

“I knew OC was the right place for me because I had a great time while I was there.” Jennifer said. “It was also so nice to be close to home. I was able to go home every Wednesday and weekend to my husband and family. The people I met along the way and my professors really help shape me as a person.”

Today, Jennifer stays connected to OC by keeping in touch with her former professors, Leah Knapp, DVM, professor of biology, and John Wilterding, Ph.D., professor of biology and chemistry. She credits them with helping her build the foundation of her career through strong mentorship and guidance.

After graduating from Olivet, Jennifer began the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program at Trine University. The program is demanding, with seven semesters over 29 months divided into two phases: didactic year and rotations. Upon completing the program, graduates take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam, and after successful completion, can begin a career as a physician assistant.

“I attended graduate school because I always wanted to be in the medical field. I started my undergrad wanting to be a medical doctor. That changed during my junior year after a great talk with Dr. Wilterding. The cool thing about PAs is that they can work in different medical specialties, unlike a medical doctor. If a doctor wants to go from Cardiology to ENT, they would have to go back to residency, but a PA just applies for the different position.

“The more research I did about becoming a PA, the more I realized that was my true path. I had a lot of support from OC to help build my future. Everything happens for a reason. Even with some negative events, it helped build me as the person I am today and has placed me exactly where I am supposed to be in life.”

Double majoring in biology and biochemistry at Olivet was advantageous for Jennifer and helped her feel prepared for graduate school. Jennifer explained, “Double majoring in biology and biochemistry taught me how to think that everything works because of something else. With that mindset when learning about diseases and symptoms in grad school, I can see why a disease would cause those types of symptoms.”

Jennifer is expected to complete her graduate program in December 2022. Her future goals are to work in the emergency department or as an orthopedic PA at Bronson Battle Creek Hospital. Jennifer added, “With that, I also plan on continuing to live with my amazing husband at our current dream country home.”

Jennifer would encourage high school students to attend The University of Olivet because of all the different opportunities available to students. She said, “OC gives you the opportunity to make your career dreams comes true, you just have to work for it if you really want it.”

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

This feature was written by Audrey Helfrich, 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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