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Senior Taylor Wilsey: Finding Her Place at Olivet During a Pandemic

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Starting the final semester of my college career has made me realize that I might miss being here.

As a 2020 high school graduate, my life felt ruined because of COVID-19. My last track and field season was taken away from me, and I couldn’t see my friends to say goodbye before we all left for college. I graduated from high school in a parking lot, where my family had to drive up to the stage that I was the only one on, then I got shooed off, and it was the next person’s turn. Then that was it. High school was done.

My first semester as a freshman was challenging. I was never very social and I went home every chance I got. Coming in when COVID was still at its peak made things even harder; classes were on Zoom, and we had to wear masks everywhere on campus. I didn’t know what most of my professors looked like until late in my sophomore year.

As a Media Production and Communication (MPC) major, trying to figure out how to navigate journalism in the new COVID world while also trying to figure out college was also a challenge. Most of my stories were conducted through email rather than in person, events weren’t happening on campus and social distancing was still in effect.

Despite these hardships and as COVID restrictions lifted, I found my place when I started running cross country and track and field for UOlivet. That gave me the best friends I could’ve ever asked for in a group of strangers. Being at school started to get easier: late-night drives to McDonald’s and sitting at the fireplace in community space in Charlotte, hammocking around campus, playing volleyball on the courts behind Sigma, karaoke in the Square, even racing in the halls of Shipherd. I was starting to finally feel at home.

At the beginning of my college career, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take my MPC degree. With media, having so many career choices can actually be overwhelming. With the guidance of MPC professors Joanne Williams, Daine Pavloski and Mike Reed, I was starting to learn what I was capable of and what I wanted to do, so I did it all.

I became a marketing intern for Binder Park Zoo, Chartwells and The University of Olivet. I did an independent study with professors Daine and Erin Pavloski called Nature Writing and Photography. For my final exam, I held an artist exhibit showcasing my top photos. I took Video Production One and Two, where I worked with my classmates to create a documentary called “Nameless: The Danger of Anonymity,” and had a viewing in the auditorium. I also hosted a podcast called “Shooting False Realities” with Julia Mellinger ’23, where we talked about conspiracy theories and spooky stories among ourselves or with guests. Currently, my classmates and I are creating videos for Olivet Middle School like our March is Reading Month book recommendations and broadcasting recess or dodgeball for their viewing. So many things I never would have thought I could do, I did, most of which in less than four years. These experiences helped build not only my resume but also my confidence.

My time at Olivet has been anything but boring; I’ve lived through a pandemic, I’ve made lifelong friends, and I’ve done things that high school Taylor would have been too scared to do. I’ve learned how to deal with anxiety, being homesick, overcoming fears, and saying, “I can do this.” My college experience has made me more resilient, more confident, and more ready for the future. Olivet has helped prepared me more than I have ever been.

Four years ago, I was 18 years old and unsure about my future. I didn’t know if I was still going to college because of COVID, if I would ever see my high school classmates, or if I could even go to the grocery store. Now, 22 years old, finishing the last of my classes and preparing to graduate, I have never been more ecstatic. Not only will I be experiencing my first graduation, but this time I will sit with my friends and bid a proper farewell.

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

This feature was written by senior Taylor Wilsey, a media production and communications major and intern for the UOlivet marketing department.

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