By: Olivia Grenier
Olivia Grenier (she/her/hers) is a junior secondary English education major with a concentration in language arts. She is a member of the on-campus Honors club, the Honors Association for Community Engagement (HACE), and a member of the on-campus education society Kappa Delta Pi. Olivia is one of the two Honors College peer mentor fellows and has been an Honors peer mentor since her sophomore year. She is from the northwest suburbs of Chicago Illinois.
Fun facts: Olivia is obsessed with fish and cows. She has two pet fish with her at college –Dorris, and Cornflake. She is also a triplet with two brothers. One goes to college at Mount Union University and the other goes to college at Bradley University.
How and why did you get involved in an Honors undergraduate fellowship?
Being an education major, I am always itching for field experience and the feeling of being the teacher. Due to my aspirations, I saw a direct link between my major and my interest in being a peer mentor. I became an Honors College fellow because I wanted to do more, but I also wanted to be a point of reference. I love the Honors College. Plain and simple. The Honors program has given me a new way to look at life through the material and conversations we have in class. It has given me discussion-based classes which I love because I am a chatty gal. And most importantly, it has given me a place to be myself. I am a very studious person. School is a huge part of my life, with me being a student and all, but it has also become a part of my identity and a space I see myself in for the rest of my life–hence my major.
What does a peer mentor do?
I am currently one of the two Honors College peer mentor fellows. This is a year-long fellowship position that I am sadly about to be wrapping up at the end of this semester. As the Honors College fellow, I work alongside Dr. Amy Livingstone who is the associate dean of the Honors College, or if you are a peer mentor, you’ll know that Dr. Livingstone is like the “mom” of the program. As a peer mentor, I teach a class called Honors 100 to about 10 new honors college freshmen about all things college life. These are not content-based classes we are teaching in terms of math, science, English, etc; they are classes about how to acclimate yourself to college. I also teach a course called Honors 300 to about 10 peer mentors about how to be the best mentors they can be for their freshman.
That may sound a little confusing, but the main takeaway from this position is that I am immersing myself more within the Honors community. I not only have interactions with the new freshman, but I also have interactions with their peer mentors. Aside from the extra teaching experience, which I love, the fellowship position has been so rewarding because I get to converse and educate fellow college students on how they can become better leaders in their sections of Honors 100. The Honors College is a community, and the peer mentor program is a perfect example of that. We are all working together to be the best leaders we can be and to make all these new freshmen feel welcome.
What’s a favorite story about the Honors College?
The Honors program is what was so alluring to me about Ball State. I said to myself, “If I don’t get accepted, I will not be attending Ball State.” Well, later on, I got a letter in the mail and it was not the news I was expecting; I did not get into the program. I had a campus tour scheduled for the following week, but I still decided to go on that tour. I was passing by the Honors house with my parents and I said to myself, “You know what, maybe the dean is in there and I can ask him about why I got denied.” And that is exactly what I did. I had a conversation with Dean Emert on the couch in the living room of the Honors house, and before I knew it, the conversation was over and instead of shaking my hand as a goodbye, he was shaking my hand and welcoming me into the program. This is why the Honors program is so close-knit to me as a college student. I showed curiosity, I showed resilience, and I showed passion. These are ideals that the Honors College exhibits and these are ideals I align with myself.
How has your fellowship helped you grow?
Become a peer mentor and become a fellow! I am going to talk to my future teachers out there because I am biased; I’ll admit it. This is what we are looking for. The pandemic has taken away the majority of our classroom experience and chances to interact with real middle school and high school students, but this program has gifted me a glimmer of that. No, I am not teaching middle or high schoolers, but I am teaching college freshmen. At the end of the day, a student is a student and we have something to teach them. When all else was taken away from my college experience in the midst of COVID-19, the Honors College remained.