Science major makes room for music


Biology major Mikaelle Olivier '15 of Gardner, Mass., started out at a large university on Long Island, N.Y., but soon realized a big campus was not for her. When she looked for a school closer to home with a more intimate setting, she found MCLA.

In addition to the benefits that come with a smaller campus, MCLA makes it easy for Olivier to get an education in science while allowing her to enjoy and explore her love of music through a variety of clubs and activities. This includes her participation in the College's award-winning a capella group, the Allegrettos, and Harlequin, a theater club.

"Harlequin and Allegrettos are student-run organizations that take students regardless of their major," Olivier said. "I thought I would have to push music to the side if I went to college and decided not to major in it, but I get the opportunity to spend so much of my free time learning and performing music that people sometimes think that I am a fine and performing arts major."

In addition to serving as the program coordinator of the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Afterschool program for local students, and a teaching assistant for the zoology lab, Olivier is co-president of the Allegrettos and the treasurer for Harlequin.

She also belongs to the campus biology club and the Susan B. Anthony Women's Center, and is helping to start a club that centers on Haitian culture.

"Being involved in the arts allows me an opportunity to do my favorite things in an organized setting. Some people see student involvement as work, but for me it's a way to keep myself occupied doing things that I love," Olivier explained.

In addition to her biology major, she minors in chemistry. One day, Olivier aims to work at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston as a physician assistant who specializes in cardiology. MCLA's small class sizes and the professors who teach them are helping to prepare her for graduate school.

"After coming from a university where some of my classes contained over 300 people, I've really enjoyed being at MCLA," she said. "I haven't had a class with more than 30 people in it. This allows me to have a deeper relationship with my professors. I see my professors more as mentors than teachers. They're very interested in what I want to do with the rest of my life and do everything in their power to help me gain the connections I need to be successful."

MCLA's learning environment, Olivier continued, allows students to really get to know each other and use one another as a resource when their studies get tough. "It really is a wonderful environment for learning and I find myself much happier and much less anxious knowing I have such a firm support system around me."

What's the best part of being an MCLA student?

"I love the fact that on every walk to class I say 'hi' to at least five people I know. I love the fact that total strangers will shine you their brightest smile and say hello, just because. I love that MCLA is a place where people can be themselves. They won't be judged, and they'll find great friends like I did who love you for who you are," Olivier said.

"There are endless possibilities here."