Baccalaureate testimony: Emma Reutter, Class of 2013
Posted: May 07, 2013
I can proudly say I am a senior, graduating with a double major in business administration and marketing with a concentration in not-for-profit management.
What I have studied is just a small fraction of how the Olivet experience has blessed me over my four years here. My time has been devoted to:
• playing soccer on the women’s varsity team
• leading Best Buddies, an outreach ministry, with one of my best friends and co-leader, Meghan Pipal [’13]
• serving as president of Enactus (formerly known as SIFE) with Kyle Henning [’13] and Dr. Lynda Allen [’82/’88 MBA], our faculty sponsor
• participating in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes)
• serving as a council member for SPC (Student Philanthropy Council)
• building relationships centered on Christ in a women’s Bible study, led by Abby (Pleasant) Sprague’11, at the Oaks Apartments
The time I’ve spent with people on Olivet’s campus and across the world in Kenya, Africa, has had a great impact on my life and truly shaped who I am today.
I am from Mason, Michigan, but I have been blessed to spend my last four years learning, playing, serving and growing spiritually at Olivet. When I arrived on campus, my verse was Jeremiah 29:11 because I had no idea what my future would hold. But I knew that He had a plan. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.”
God’s hand was present in every relationship I built, every class I took, every game I played and every opportunity I had for servant leadership. To show you that, I will share a few stories about my time at Olivet, highlighting the people who made these stories come to life. For as we all know, it is the people who have made our Olivet experience.
Author Isak Dinesen once said: “To be a person is to have a story to tell.”
Here is my Olivet story. Personally, I did not have Olivet on my radar [when I was in high school]. But many of my loved ones did. If it wasn’t for the constant encouragement of my mother, father and Uncle Larry, Olivet and I would not have crossed paths.
My home church is Mason First Church of the Nazarene. Once I had mentioned a slight interest in Olivet, the encouragement began to stream in from my church family. After going on many college visits and tours, I had visited only one university outside of Michigan: Olivet. My experience on that campus visit is what sealed the deal — and inspired me to eventually serve as a student ambassador for Olivet’s Office of Admissions. There was something different about the people I encountered here. Their smiles were sincere, and they were transparent in their conversations.
My campus visit concluded with a women’s soccer team practice. Although I was nervous as I took my first step onto the field, I now know that field as a sanctuary. I left that day with a calm and a confirmation that I wanted to be an ONU Tiger.
The idea that Coach [Bill] Bahr spoke of, playing for this audience of one, was intriguing to me. I had never played soccer for Him before, and this was a new and refreshing concept. Most of my stories from my four years at Olivet involve the team — whether it’s a story about the coaching staff or my teammates — because we spent a lot of time together. Stories include our time together in Kenya, where I witnessed my freshman roommate rededicate her life to the Lord through a baptism in the Indian Ocean. Kenya was also a place where my faith was tested because of the hardship I witnessed God’s people enduring. Yet, it was a time of reaffirmation to see the spirit of God’s people as they live every day to the fullest, not worrying about what the next day would bring because of their faith that He will provide.
Over the years with my team, I learned the concept of endurance — not only the kind needed to be runner-up in the NAIA Nationals women’s soccer tournament, but also the kind needed for a greater race. Hebrews 11:1 was our team’s verse throughout the year: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. “
During my time as a business major at Olivet, I have been blessed with professors who not only have prepared me for the secular work force that I will be stepping into shortly after graduation, but who have also invested in me on a personal level. I have been blessed to have Dr. Allen as a mentor. She has positively influenced me in more ways then she knows. My time as president of Enactus provided me with experience in how to administer projects. I’ve also had the opportunity to work alongside talented fellow classmates on projects that require an entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to commit time and energy for a greater purpose. I can thankfully say I feel equipped to face the business world by drawing from my Enactus experiences.
God also allowed me to use my passion for bettering the lives of people with special needs in an outreach ministry called Best Buddies. This is a global, nonprofit organization that seeks to build one-to-one friendships between people with and without disabilities. I never thought my desire to work in the business world would intersect with my passion for serving those with special needs. At Olivet, my eyes were opened to a way I could intertwine the two. I have had the privilege of serving as the College Buddy Director for three years. But even more important is my new friendship with Kevin Kirkeby that I will have forever.
My plans following graduation stem from this experience. I will be working with the Best Buddies organization to help reach their 2020 initiative of opening an office in all 50 states and expanding into 20 more countries. I’ll be part of a team to open an office in Michigan. I have had the privilege of working at the Best Buddies’ Illinois office as an intern this spring and have been offered a position to work full time in that office this fall. Accepting the position and staying at the Chicago office for a couple of years will give me experience to take to the Michigan office. The workplace environment is ideal for me with people who have stories upon stories to tell about what Best Buddies has meant to them. The way the Lord has continually opened some doors and closed others for me, guiding my steps on the path He has created for my life, is amazing.
As I leave Olivet, the people and their stories will be with me forever. I have made significant relationships here, and I plan on keeping them for life. I give God all the glory for guiding each of us to this small stop on the map, where we’ve spent four impactful years of our lives.
We can plan and plan for our lives, but as Proverbs 16:9 says: “In his heart a man [person] plans his course, but the Lord determines his [or her] steps.”
Thank you, Olivet Nazarene University family, for equipping and empowering me with resources and endurance for the road God has set before me. You have helped prepare me for the steps He has determined for me to take.