As an avid drawer growing up in Lansing, Michigan, The University of Olivet junior Cassie Brown knew she wanted to be an artist. But a starving artist, one without a set career path, was never in her life-plan. Enter The University of Olivet, where Cassie has continued her love of art by majoring in graphic design with a concentration in business.
Coming from a small high school, Cassie felt at home immediately on the The University of Olivet campus. The small class sizes were the perfect fit, with her largest class having 30 people and her smallest, less than 10.
“I knew right away this is where I wanted to be,” said Cassie. “I really value that Individualized attention. Being able to make those relationships with my professors is really nice. I value that out of class time.”
One professor in particular, Dr. Kirk Hendershot-Kraetzer, has made a lasting impact on Cassie. “He was my writing and rhetoric professor. I really enjoyed his classes, even though they were challenging. I’d spend an hour and a half in his office hours and he was always breaking things down and helping me out. He was always pushing me to get better,” said Cassie.
Cassie also added, “The professors want you to do well. I consider some of them even more as a coach than a professor because they see the strengths in their students, see what they want to achieve, and instead of seeing the same path for every student, they help you become your own person.”
The close relationship Cassie was able to build with her visual arts professors paid off – she was chosen by the visual arts faculty to receive a travel scholarship through the visual arts program at The University of Olivet. One student each year is chosen to receive the scholarship, and this year Cassie received that honor.
“The scholarship gives you an experience outside of Olivet that you can come back and share,” said Cassie. “With this scholarship I really want to get some more professional experience, rather than take a class. I want to get that so I have it in my back pocket when I start applying for jobs.”
Cassie has applied to a few exhibit design firms, but has two in particular she hopes to attend. When asked how she felt about this new opportunity she stated, “I’m not really a risk taker, I usually stick with what I know. But this is such a great opportunity, I figured I can go out of my comfort zone – just this once.”
Outside of school, Cassie’s biggest commitment is her role as Senior RA in Shipherd Hall. She credits that role as helping her grow up and feel prepared for the real world.
“I really love that job. Some people find it stressful but I embrace it because there are so many skills you can get from it and so much that I’ve learned. Having a lot of people rely on you I think is something that has prepared me to be a professional because when you’re in a work environment everyone has their own responsibilities and if you’re not reliable then you’re not going to go far.”
Cassie is involved in a number of other activities on campus as well. She is the President of Art Alliance, a member of the Global Citizen Honors Program, a member of the Hosford Society for Scholars, was recently part of the President’s Leadership Institute, and is a blog contributor on the new The University of Olivet student blog, OCSTORIES.
When it comes to the blog, Cassie said, “I’ve really tried to think about how I’ve gotten to where I am, so I can share it with new or current students and give a little advice. I think it’s going to be something that’s really good for other students to read. Even though Olivet is a small campus, people don’t realize all of the stuff that goes on.”
Advice for New Students
When asked if she had any advice for incoming The University of Olivet students, Cassie had a few thoughts to share.
“Don’t be afraid or intimidated because you have to take a wide variety of classes. I’ve never painted with oils before or done sculpture before. It’s really intimidating and you’re really nervous, but it’s something you may never get to do again. I came in liking to draw and now I really love painting, it’s very relaxing for me,” said Cassie.
She also stated, “If you come to Olivet, get involved. There are so many opportunities, some that you might not even think of. Even though it’s a small school, it has all of the opportunities of a larger school. And everyone needs to embrace that, because I wouldn’t be the person that I am if I hadn’t embraced all of the opportunities that I did.”