Olivia Capodilupo, now an art teacher in training at Fair Plain East Elementary in Benton Harbor, MI, started her college education - and made some meaningful connections - at Bay College.
"I started at Bay in the fall of 2018," she said.
Previously, Olivia had graduated from Gladstone Area High School in the spring of 2018. When the time came for her to select a college, Bay was an easy choice.
"The most obvious reason to choose Bay for me personally is that my tuition was going to be free, since my mom works at the college," she said, noting that her mother is nursing instructor Dr. Caitlin Capodilupo.
However, this was not the only reason she decided to take classes at Bay College.
"I wanted to be close to home, and also I wasn't quite sure what I intended to major in, so I thought Bay was a good place to start - explore a little bit," Olivia said.
While she was studying at Bay, Olivia said going into teaching was "an idea in the back of [her] mind" but not something she had seriously considered. Instead, she got an associate of arts degree from Bay, graduating at the end of the winter 2020 semester. Then, she began looking for work.
"I applied online for random teaching jobs, and I got one, and it's going well so far," she said.
Olivia started working at Fair Plain East this September.
"It's a bit of a learning curve since I don't have any teaching experience, but everybody is so helpful," she said.
Though she was not involved in Bay College's education program, Olivia said her experiences as a Bay student did help her prepare for her current role in some important ways.
"I think my time at Bay was really beneficial for me, mostly for the connections I was able to make with my instructors and advisors," she said, noting the teachers she met have helped her connect with other people in the educational field.
Studying at Bay also gave Olivia experience in using her time wisely.
"I was able to make the most of my time at Bay and kind of get the university experience," she said.
Going forward, Olivia plans to make some big decisions in the coming months.
"When I took this teaching job, I still wasn't sure if teaching was going to be my lifelong career, so I am trying to use this year to see if this will be my career," she said.
If she does decide to go forward with teaching as a long-term career path, Olivia will enter what she described as Fair Plain East's "intensive mentorship program."
"I will have to enroll in a bachelor's program if I do decide that, but I do want a bachelor's degree either way - just not this year," she said.
Whatever the future may hold for her, Olivia said she is glad she chose to study at Bay College.
"Bay really is the way, especially if you're not sure what you want to do yet," she said.