Move-In Day Speaker Jalen Ewing Shares His OC Journey

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Move-In Day Welcome

Move-In Day is more than just carrying boxes and arranging furniture; it’s about the right of passage freshmen take as they begin their educational journey at The University of Olivet. While the day is thoroughly planned with events to have fun and adjust to life on campus, it’s also important to take time to recognize the beginning of a new chapter in life. Under the theme A Change Worth the Challenge, returning students will address the freshman class with the goal to prepare them for the year ahead, which will surely be full of successes and a few unexpected challenges.

Last year at this same time, then-sophomore Jalen Ewing shared his story with the Class of 2020, defining the ability to adapt as crucial to a positive college experience. In Jalen’s first year, his challenge lied in adapting from life in a big city to attending a small, rural college. For the second time, he will share with the incoming class on Move-In Day, Friday, Aug. 18. This year, Jalen’s message will be about taking help when offered from professors and others, the way he had to in order to improve his GPA and leave academic probation. Jalen wants new students to know they can succeed at The University of Olivet, but the path to success is not always simple. You need to be prepared to face adversity and accept the support of others to overcome challenges.

Background of Excellence

Jalen grew up in Detroit and thrived playing quarterback on his high school football team. He had lots of friends, got good grades and always planned on going to college. Nearly 10 schools expressed interest in Jalen joining their football team, but he felt something special at The University of Olivet. Jalen chose to major in exercise science with a minor in business administration. While OC was smaller and more secluded than the college Jalen pictured himself attending, he was confident there was great potential for him to grow as a Comet.

“When I was speaking to the coaches at OC, I was sold on the way they talked about individualized attention and the opportunities on the team,” Jalen said. “I also felt like the atmosphere and size of Olivet would help me become a better person. As a freshman, I was really excited to see what was in store for me.”

The First Challenge

When Jalen moved onto campus, he began doubting his decision. Naturally shy, Jalen struggled to connect with his classmates and professors. His grades fell and he was even placed on academic probation. In addition, OC coaches encouraged Jalen to explore other positions on the football team rather than his beloved quarterback position. On top of it all, Jalen, used to the bustling city of Detroit, felt alone and isolated on Olivet’s small campus. However, he was determined to succeed.

“I knew I had to engage with my professors to be successful in the classroom,” Jalen explained. “I started sitting in the first row no matter what class it was. I also make a point to speak to my professors after every single class, whether that be about homework assignments or a recent sports game. Every professor I have met is willing to go the extra mile as long as you are too.”

Overcoming Adversity

Heeding his own advice, Jalen made the tough decision to take a break from football to go the extra mile in the classroom. While he may not be part of the team, he has found one of his biggest supporters in Assistant Coach Larry Smith who also serves as an academic adviser. “Coach Smith has just been there for me through it all,” Jalen said. “He’s helped me with everything from scheduling classes to learning time management and just life, as well.”

With Coach Smith’s guidance, Jalen doubled his GPA and is now entering his junior year in good academic standing. Further, Jalen discovered his fit in several clubs and organizations on campus. Enjoying learning about and sharing his culture, he joined the Black Student Union and has also been elected to serve as secretary of the Xicano Club, recognizing Hispanic Heritage, to help others advocate for their culture as well. Further, Jalen serves as president of High Impact, a student-led group aiming to engage young students in campus events.

“My college experience has been so different than I thought it would be,” Jalen admitted. “But it’s great! I’ve faced adversity and am a better person because I have overcome the challenges I faced. I know I’ve changed for the better and want to help others do the same.”

Moving Forward and Setting Goals

Jalen’s goal is to earn a spot on the Dean’s List before he graduates from The University of Olivet in 2019 and is looking into exercise science graduate programs. Ultimately, Jalen hopes to open a gym and become a personal trainer. He wants to spend his career helping men and women of all ages develop self-confidence through fitness.

Look for Jalen on Move-In Day, Friday, Aug. 18 – he’d love to welcome you to The University of Olivet! Check out the full schedule of events or contact admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu for questions.


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