Kennedy Ellis—Her Unique Journey with The University of Olivet

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Kennedy Ellis: Headshot

Here at Olivet College, there is no cookie-cutter path to graduation. Everyone’s journey is a little different and customizable to their interests and goals. Kennedy Ellis discovered this early in her time with The University of Olivet when she decided on an independent major in sustainable agriculture. She has a specific career goal in mind. “After graduating from The University of Olivet,” she said, “I will pursue my master’s and doctorate degrees with a research discipline in turfgrass pathology. My end goal is to become a professor of turfgrass science.” She knows what she wants to do, and The University of Olivet provides the tools to make that happen. 

Perhaps Kennedy’s interest in turfgrass is not altogether surprising, given that she is a golfer. She first heard about The University of Olivet when Coach Bill Maas reached out to her with an invitation to visit the campus. She was impressed and said, “I just knew he’d be the best coach I will ever meet.”  

During her visit, she also spoke with professors Susanne Lewis, Ph.D., and Leah Knapp, D.V.M., and instantly connected with them both. When she found out she could do a custom major, she was ready to commit. She said, “The academics and opportunity to continue my athletic career were not going to happen anywhere else, and that’s why I never went to visit anywhere else. I knew Olivet would be my home.” 

The University of Olivet was able to partner with Michigan State University for Kennedy’s program. Kennedy explained her major as “a combined degree of biology, environmental science, and chemistry with independent studies at both The University of Olivet and Michigan State University.” She worked with her advisors to choose the courses that made the most sense for her career goals, so she had a lot of say in the process.  

Headshot: Golf Team

To help prepare herself for the future, Kennedy said, “I am constantly networking with people in the turfgrass management industry, especially with graduate professors, to build professional relationships with those I wish to work for and with throughout my educational and professional careers.” She has also attended multiple golfing and turf tournaments and conferences. She has even been a panel member in a breakout session at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Conference and Show.  

Her decision to study an independent major at Olivet has been the right choice for her. She said, “The University of Olivet has been more than supportive and willing to help design my interests into an independent major. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunities I have through Olivet and to have such a strong support system throughout the College. 

Kennedy Ellis: Handling Aquatic Life

Her choice of The University of Olivet was one of the easiest decisions she has ever made, and she feels valued and cared for as a student and future leader. For anyone interested in creating a custom major,” she said, “DO IT! Many people end up changing their major or just feeling that their course of study is not for them. I have yet to feel that way even for a second after my individualized major was approved.” Even if a student is happy in one of the offered majors, independent studies are also an option for anyone at The University of Olivet. If a student is interested in something not offered already, they can always work one-on-one with a professor to study that topic.  

The University of Olivet is a unique institution. The faculty and staff want to see students succeed and are always willing to help them reach big goals. Whether you are looking for an independent major, a specific independent class, or simply support and attention in an offered major, The University of Olivet will help you succeed. 

Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admission at 269-749-7635 or admissions@uolivet.edu. 

This feature was written by Savannah Baker, a senior studying English and business. The former editor of Olivet’s literary journal, Garfield Lake Review, Savannah now pursues her interest in writing and editing as a marketing intern with The University of Olivet.  



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