Senior Dominique Giroux will graduate in May with a degree in psychology and English, but will be taking away so much more than just a The University of Olivet education. Her time as a Comet has been packed with events, experiences, challenges, leadership opportunities and a whole lot of successes. The soccer stand out is not quite ready to leave behind her OC family, but when she does, Dominique is certain she’ll have made the most of her college journey.
Dominique hails from Windsor, Ontario. When it came time to make her college selection, Dominique thought she’d attend a larger university close to her hometown, but was surprised to learn about the college opportunities in the states. Reflecting on the decision now, she knows attending OC was the right choice for her thanks to the personal relationships she’s built with professors, soccer coaches and friends.
“I’ve grown up playing soccer and love the game. I’ve always looked up to other athletes who do a great job at balancing school with their team,” Dominique explained. “Just when I thought I had made my final decision to attend the same university that my mom did, I heard of OC because of soccer. The financial aid worked out for me to attend Olivet and it just felt like it was meant to be.”
Rather than sticking to a single position on the soccer field, Dominique serves the Comets as a utility player and team captain. Over the summer, she had knee surgery and was nervous about getting back to the game this fall, but credits head coach Sarah (Yancer) Maracani as being an amazing motivator that helped Dominique push through her worries.
“Coach Maracani has been absolutely phenomenal,” Dominique exclaimed. “She’s the best thing that could have happened to my senior year. We have a unique relationship as I’ve gotten to see her grow from assistant coach to head coach, and we’ve been able to develop together and build off each other. The team has been on a roll this season! Coach Maracani has pushed us from the beginning, and even though we’ve faced some setbacks, there are a great group of leaders that work together to make every aspect of the team strong.”
In addition to her status as student-athlete, Dominique joined the residence life staff and serves as the Gillette Student Village apartment manager. In this role, she has developed a mentor-mentee relationship with Jake Schuler, assistant dean for student. With a booming voice, broad shoulders and serious demeanor, Jake has a reputation on campus for running a tight ship, while also showing his soft side now and again like a protective father. For Dominique, Jake has exemplified what it means to be a strong leader, which sometimes means being tough.
“I get poked fun at a lot for saying sorry too much, especially by Jake. It’s a Canadian thing to apologize all the time,” Dominique explained. “Jake has called me out on it numerous times, and always reminds me that I should never say sorry when I’m actually not sorry for something. He’s constantly emphasizing and showing me that being strong and assertive makes a great leader, not to mention the many other life lessons, time management, organizational and customer service skills I’ve learned from Jake.”
Dominique’s campus involvement doesn’t end there. She’s also a member of the admissions team and serves as a student representative. She loves meeting people from around the country and giving tours to prospective students. In addition, she serves as president of Psi Chi, the psychology honor society that focuses on mental health awareness on campus. The group holds monthly events for students to speak out about their experiences or struggles with mental health, striving to create a culture of acceptance and support.
Dominique finds time to serve the community as well. What began as an internship tutoring and mentoring elementary and middle school girls at nearby Springfield’s Burma Center, Dominique has now volunteered her time there for three years. The Burma Center serves a local population of nearly 1,100 Burmese immigrants, providing community engagement opportunities, English Second Language classes, and advocating for the group.
“I’m so thankful Professor John Moore, Ph.D., helped me discover the Burma Center,” Dominique said. “I’ve mentored the same girl for three years now; witnessing her growth has been incredible. She once was so shy she would barely look at or speak to me, but now we laugh together and she’s always excited to give me a hug when I arrive. I want to work with adolescents in my career, and this experience was pivotal in solidifying that.”
Dominique’s hard work and dedication was noticed first in her sophomore year and she was invited to take part in the 2015-16 President’s Leadership Institute (PLI), a leadership development program on campus. The following summer, presidential spouse and now The University of Olivet Women’s Leadership Institute Director Traci Corey took notice of Dominique’s outstanding talent yet again, and asked her to be a member of the Cultivating Women Leader’s (CWL) Planning Committee. The inaugural CWL event brought together area high school students and OC students, staff and faculty for an interactive training conference focusing on addressing the leadership gap between women and men in today’s workforce.
Dominique took on the challenge full force, and even presented Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” at the event. This year, she’s a member of the inaugural OC ATHENA International Women’s Leadership Program. Dominique is now in the position to further advance her leadership skills in two ways: as a PLI graduate she is helping to mentor the other young women in the ATHENA program while taking advantage herself of the invaluable women’s leadership training program.
“I get goosebumps just thinking about how the first CWL event has turned into an endowed institute,” Dominique exclaimed. “I think it’s awesome that Traci has helped facilitate so much girl power and togetherness on campus, and I am proud to have been a part of it – and even more proud to have her in my corner and part of my OC experience. My goal is to help other students find their voice the way I have been able to find mine at Olivet.”
While Dominique prepares for graduation, she’s also thinking about the next step. Currently, she’s studying for the Graduate Record Examinations, the first step to earning her doctorate degree. Ultimately, Dominique hopes to become a clinical psychologist with her own practice, but her professors have also inspired her to consider teaching at a small college like Olivet.
“My years at OC have been more than I could have ever imagined,” Dominique reflected. “From speaking at Opening Convocation to being part of CWL, I never thought I would get so much from my undergrad experience. And the people, I don’t even know where to begin. I appreciate what everyone has given me. The best advice I can give is to take control of your future, put in the work to get what you want and the output will almost always be twice as much as you put in.”
See for yourself the many opportunities to get involved, learn and grow at The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.