Olivet The Magazine | ‘Olivet Belongs To Us’

“The students are valued because of who God made them to be. Each student has potential at Olivet, and Olivet invests well in all of them. Olivet belongs to us.”
Laura Warfel headshot

LW Warfel

February 5, 2024 Academics, Admissions, Business, Olivet The Magazine

Mata-Bolandi family

“I knew my sons would go to a university someday,” says the Rev. Laura Mata-Bolandi, a native of Costa Rica, a single mother and now the pastor of Moline Community Church of the Nazarene in Moline, Illinois. “Olivet Nazarene University is exactly what they need. I’m thankful they chose Olivet for their higher education.”

Laura remembers well what her life was like as a single mom raising two young boys, Anthony and Jonathan. She admits that she was working for money and working really hard. Early every morning, she took her boys to day care. Every night she picked
them up, took them home, fed them and then got ready for the next day.

Everything changed in their lives when Laura’s friend, Brenda Miller, invited the family to join her at Rockford Samuelson Road Church of the Nazarene in Rockford, Illinois.

“I knew the statistics about children of single mother minorities and of divorce,” Laura says. “We found us and loved us. And we also learned about Olivet.”

Planted Seeds Begin To Sprout
As her sons grew, Laura continued to instill in them the importance of quality education and a strong spiritual life. She knew they would find both — and so much more — at Olivet. When Anthony was in fifth grade, his teacher asked the class to write a letter to their future selves. He wrote in his letter, “Go to Olivet if you are going to a university.”

As teens, Anthony and Jonathan got involved in Celebrate Life and Quiz Bowl, and they traveled to Olivet for these activities. During that time, they first met Tony Fightmaster ’80, who was serving as ONU’s director of church relations. Ministry teams from Olivet visited their church. Mata-Bolani students with Tony FightmasterThe boys attended church camp many times and encountered Olivet students serving there. Olivet alumni in the church shared their own college experiences with the boys, too.

Stepping Into Olivet’s Timeline
When Anthony was ready for college, he wasn’t sure about Olivet.

“Dr. Scott Sherwood, our district superintendent, asked Anthony to give Olivet just one chance and go for a visit,” Laura recalls. “Then he would trust Anthony to choose.”

When Anthony and Laura went for their campus visit, Dr. Scott Sherwood ’92 met them there. He introduced them to then-University President John Bowling ’71/’72 M.A., Dr. Brian Allen ’82 and Tony. After their visit, Anthony was convinced that Olivet was the place for him.

Today, Anthony is a junior business major in ONU’s McGraw School of Business, president of The Entrepreneurship Club, and active in Multiethnic Student Services and a multicultural student group.

Jonathan, also a business major, has just completed his first semester. He is the communications coordinator for The Entrepreneurship Club.

New Direction for a Friend
When their friend Deyvin Amador hit difficult times in his life and wasn’t sure where to turn, the Mata- Bolandi family pointed him to Olivet.

“I told Deyvin that he could get money anywhere, but what he would get from education would prepare him for success in the rest of his life,” Laura says. “We continued to pray for him. I also reached out to Olivet and asked how they could help Deyvin. They worked with him and got him everything he needed so that he could enroll.”

Deyvin is now a freshman engineering major in ONU’s Walker School of STEM. Each week Tony meets with Anthony, Jonathan, Deyvin and three other students in his home for a time of mentorship, fellowship and conversation.

“The Holy Spirit orchestrates all of this,” Tony says. “I’m just making myself available to be used by the Holy Spirit in the lives of these students.”

Laura explains, “Anyone can belong here. Olivet cares about your talents and commitment to God, not about the color of your skin or your culture. The students are valued because of who God made them to be. Each student has potential at Olivet, and Olivet invests well in all of them. Olivet belongs to us.”

From Olivet The Magazine, On Purpose – Winter 2024. Read the full issue HERE.

Laura Warfel headshot

LW Warfel

Laura Wasson Warfel is a story gatherer, writer, editor, and follower of Jesus Christ. A good listener, she distills details into meaningful communications. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, she launched More Than A Widow, a ministry to help widows live beyond the label and find their more.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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