Faces of Olivet | Charles DeLoach III

Charles DeLoach III '17/'20 M.A. reflects on his academic journey as both an undergraduate and graduate student at Olivet.

In the Faces of Olivet series, we share snapshots of the personal experiences and careers of some of our extraordinary students, faculty, staff and alumni. Charles DeLoach III ‘17/‘20, offers a unique perspective of the Olivet experience as an undergraduate student athlete, graduate student and an assistant football coach. In this article he reflects on the things he learned through his Olivet journey and the way the University impacted his ability to lead, love and inspire others every day.

As a self-described “kid from Chicago Heights that wants to see change, but most importantly, be the change,” Charles sought to make a difference in the lives of those he interacted with during his time as an Olivet student. In turn, many of the experiences and relationships he built shaped him into the man he is today.

Charles decided to enroll at Olivet when he was offered a scholarship to play on the football team. During his undergraduate experience, he studied criminal justice and was actively involved in many areas across campus. During his four foundational years, his involvement with the Proclamation Gospel Choir, Multiethnic Student Services (MSS) and the Social Justice Club provided him with a platform to use his voice on campus. Charles appreciated how each of these groups developed minority students into leaders at the University and enhanced the community bond of the entire student body. He also grew as a leader through mentorship he received from Dr. Cynthia Taylor, Dr. Craig Bishop, Dr. Woody Webb, Dr. Teresa Garner, Professor Jeff Stark and his favorite Sodexo employee, Ms. Aleeta.

As a student athlete in his undergraduate years, he found that playing college football mentally prepared him to face life and its many challenges. Following his undergraduate commencement, Charles decided to pursue his master’s degree in urban ministry through Olivet’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies. As a grad assistant with the football team, Charles found that there was a whole new side to the game and he gained respect for coaching. “I was able to see the grind and work coaches put in,” he says. “It changed my perspective. I truly have a high respect for any collegiate-level coach because they work so diligently year round.” 

Charles was also able to continue to seek out ways to make a difference through serving others. In his graduate experience, Charles was a leader for Shalom Project mission trips to the Chicago City Life Center in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. He had his first experience at the center as an undergrad student and continued to invest in the people there throughout his entire Olivet journey. 

“Each year I’ve been on the trip, whether I led it or participated as a student. It truly shaped my walk, and my perspective of ministry,” he says. “As you know there is so much going on in Chicago, and I feel obligated to do something.”

Charles followed that calling and is now the associate pastor at Chicago City Life Center. He is also a part of a Christian activist group called Urban Reformers in the city. In light of the events of the last several months, when Charles reflects over his time at Olivet, he is able to see how each experience shaped him into the man he is today and how God gave him a unique platform to speak in ways he couldn't have imagined before coming to the University.

“Anyone who has been at Olivet during my tenure knows that I have been speaking on these issues since I stepped foot on campus,” he says. “God used my experience to be a voice then, and He is continuing to use me as a voice now.” 

Charles is hopeful for the change that is coming in the Olivet community and across the country and the steps that are being taken to see these necessary changes in society.

For more information on Olivet’s Department of Social Work and Criminal Justice, and other areas of study, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463. 

Published 7/29/20
HRI