The Aspiring Class of 2021: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

A few members of the class of 2021 reflect on their Olivet journey.

It was during the first chapel service of the fall 2017 semester at Olivet Nazarene University that the "Aspiring Class of 2021" gathered for the first time. University President Dr. John C. Bowling challenged the students to square their shoulders and set their gaze ahead in order to take advantage of the opportunities that Olivet had for them in the coming four years – never taking a day for granted.

Now, as they prepare to step across the stage during the commencement ceremony, seniors at Olivet are reflecting on the journey that brought them this far. In the following article, four members of the class of 2021 reflect on their time at Olivet and all the opportunities that lie before them.

Janelle McDowell | Normal, IL
Major: Nursing

"Looking back, I knew Olivet was the right choice for me as soon as I stepped foot on campus. Everyone was so welcoming, and I wanted to be a part of a place that was known for that. More specifically, I knew that by choosing the nursing program, I would find a lot of opportunity within my clinical and observation experiences. When I got to Olivet, I didn’t hesitate to get involved. I have been involved with the cheer team, served on worship team in chapel, worked as an intramural supervisor and even tutored. 

In my four years, I have found so much value in my community here, especially with my professors in the nursing program. Professor Yvette Rose, especially, has constantly supported me, prayed with me, and encouraged me. The best advice she has given, is that “even when things don’t go as planned, God will still use you”. With this advice in mind, some of the most defining moments in my time at ONU have been when I was talking, praying and encouraging the patients I have worked with. While they were at some of their worst moments, I saw how the Lord was able to use me in their lives. 

The last four years have held countless hours of studying and trying to balance my schedule between classwork and extracurriculars, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Now, looking ahead, I have accepted a job in Nashville, Tennessee, at TriStar Centennial Medical center as an registered nurse (RN) on the cardiac progressive care unit. I fell in love with caring for cardiac patients during my capstone rotation at Olivet and I am excited that I get to continue that as a RN."

Brennan Carter | Lebanon, IN 
Major: Business Administration, Minors: History and Legal Studies

"I came to Olivet because of the incredible community of faculty, staff and students – everyone was super friendly and genuine. That is not something you can always find at other schools. Through my involvement with Associated Student Council and Honors Student Council, the Law and Politics Society, Phi Beta Lambda, Enactus, residential life, and other involvements like playing with the Upper Room worship band and participating in intramurals, I have been able to see first-hand what an impact this community can have on a person’s life. 

My mentor and former Resident Director, Tommy Lambrecht, gave me a lot of advice on meeting people where they're at and learning to be a great listener. These skills are invaluable as we go throughout our lives, regardless of what career path you choose. For me, one the most defining moments in my time at Olivet was simply remembering something as little as one of my resident's name. That moment, seemingly insignificant, was very meaningful to him and really put things into perspective for me. I truly realized the importance of being intentional with others. 

In the last four years, I faced challenges, like dropping my Honors research project, quitting my pursuit of law school, and changing my primary major. Yet, I was reminded, especially through my community, to see these challenges as opportunities for God to continually teach me a lot about of trust, hope, and flexibility. These are lessons I know I will take with me post-grad as I spend a few years working in Indianapolis and then hopefully going back to school to get an MBA. I'm excited to dive into my career, learn as much as I can, and hopefully do some traveling in my free time."

Daniel Kasaggoma | Kampala, Uganda
Major: Cyber Security and Defense

"Olivet has been a big blessing in my life. Initially I looked into the school as a recruitment option for soccer, but ultimately decided to come because of the Christian foundation. As a member of the men’s soccer team and within my major, I have met many incredible people that have not only stood with me throughout my entire academic career, but also have been people that I could easily lean on in both good and bad times. I have been able to interact even more deeply with players on my team from diverse backgrounds through Bible study sessions, which has really defined my Olivet experience. 

It has been hard being so far away from home and I struggled a lot with loneliness and anxiety as I haven’t seen my family for five years. That being said, this time at Olivet has helped me grow stronger both mentally and spiritually, while leaning into the word of God and His promises and learning to approach each day by faith. 

I am especially grateful for my mentors including my pastor from back home in Uganda, Prof Jeff Rice, madam Darlene Swanson and Mr. Tony Fightmaster, all of whom have been sources of support and guidance as they encouraged me to seek God’s will.. This is a lesson I will be taking with me as I continue my Olivet journey to get my master’s degree in Christian ministry."

Hannah Iverson | Milan, MI
Major: Public Relations and Strategic Communication


"I have always been a people person, so it was really no surprise that I chose to come to Olivet because of the campus community. My journey over the last four years has truly been shaped by the people that I have met. Through my experiences serving as an account executive with the Inspired Strategies Agency; my work with the City of Kankakee; my work with Olivet’s Office of Marketing and Engagement; and even through my internship and experience with the Office of Development and Communication, my love for this campus and the community has grown exponentially as all the experiences were intricately woven together by God’s perfect timing. 

While the past year has presented challenges in the ways that we have been able to connect as a community, I have found that sharing stories has been one of the best ways to navigate this season. I am so thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a catalyst for connecting and sharing stories for external and internal audiences during my time at Olivet. My love for people and this community has only grown over the last four years. While it would take me too long to specifically name each mentor and friend that has made an impact, I will say that the professors in the Department of Communication have always supported me and encouraged my personal and professional growth. Susan Wolff specifically, has always encouraged me to pursue strong relationships and leadership positions in a way that is genuine and Christ-honoring. 

Following graduation, in addition to getting married this summer, I am looking forward to pursuing my MBA through Olivet. The Lord has been faithful each step of my Olivet journey. I am excited to see where he leads me in this next season."

For more information about life at Olivet, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.

Photos submitted & used with permission.
Published 5/3/2021
HRI