Prof. Yvonne Chalfant ’97 MBA, reflects on her Olivet journey.
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. This piece focuses on professor Yvonne Chalfant ’97 MBA and her unique Olivet journey.
Yvonne’s connection with Olivet started when she set foot on campus as a high school student for a Red Carpet Days experience with her pastor and youth group. She instantly fell in love and anticipated enrolling at Olivet within the following years. However, due to unexpected life experiences, Yvonne’s plan to attend Olivet was temporarily delayed. After weighing her options, she decided to attend a local community college and work a full-time job. Despite the setbacks, Olivet was never far from her heart.
In the following years, her marriage to the Rev. D. Morris Chalfant ‘43, a Nazarene pastor, sent her life in another direction — one of service as a wife, mother, and community volunteer. During this time, she learned the value of building strong community relationships. After 20 years of ministry together, the Chalfants moved to Bourbonnais and Yvonne joined the staff at Olivet. “It seemed the Lord reminded me that He hadn’t forgotten my long-ago dream of coming to Olivet,” she says. “He just had other plans for me before I arrived here.”
Along with her staff experience, Yvonne also earned her MBA. She was, officially, on Olivetian. “At each turn, God has opened doors,” she says. Although my original dream of attending Olivet as a traditional freshman was side tracked, I have become entrenched in the ONU community as a staff member, an alumna and adjunct faculty.”
Yvonne has served in many different capacities in the Olivet and greater Kankakee community. In her first few years at the University, she worked as an executive assistant and as manager of donor relations. She then transitioned into a community position as the President of the Amita St. Mary’s foundation for 13 years.
Following her years working in a health care fundraising role, she was able to take her experience with community outreach, event planning and relationship building back home to the Olivet campus. She now serves as the Director of Strategic Events and Initiatives for Institutional Advancement. God continued to further her footprint on the Olivet campus teaching students the skills of event planning and public speaking. While she had never anticipated becoming a professor, Yvonne found her fulfillment at Olivet through service opportunities, and most recently in her interactions with her students.
In her time teaching, she has been able to use her connections and relationships with organizations such as the Kankakee Chamber of Commerce to connect students to the greater community around them. “I so believe in the quality of our ONU students and I’m aware of so many needs and opportunities within our community,” she says. “I find it a true honor to connect student potential with community opportunities.” She continues to anticipate a lot of growth in the coming year as the 2020 event planning industry continues to adapt to the societal changes. While the basic theories of event planning still apply, she looks forward to guiding her students as they navigate the challenges of pandemic gathering.
As an alumna, faculty and staff member, Yvonne has a unique perspective of the University. While many aspects of Olivet and her life have changed over the years, she continually appreciates that ONU is an institution built around men and women who believe in Education with a Christian Purpose. As a young girl from Evansville, Indiana, who attended a Red Carpet Days event so long ago, Yvonne could not have anticipated the path her life would take to fulfill her Olivet dream.
“I give praise to God the Father for directing me at every step and every turn and bringing me to Olivet Nazarene University,” she says. “Here I have found a life of service that enriches every moment of my days.”