Gracie Oven: Found Her People
ALMA — Many students at Alma College “find their people” in the classroom, in student organizations and on sports teams. Gracie Oven found her people at the library.
Oven, a senior integrative physiology and health science (IPHS) major, has been a student worker at the Alma College Library since coming to campus in 2019. While she first applied to work in the library simply as a way to make some spare cash, she said, the job has evolved into something far greater than that.
“My supervisor is more than just my supervisor — we talk all the time about school and life. I made friends with someone who worked there and she became my ‘Alma Mom’ — we get lunch every week. To me, it’s a good representation of our ‘small community feel’ at Alma. The people here really care about you,” Oven said.
Originally from Engadine, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Oven chose to come to Alma to replicate her tight-knit hometown. The performance scholarship she received for being a skilled piano player also helped with her decision.
Since coming to Alma, Oven said, she has worked hard to get the most out of that “small community feel” by joining campus organizations, including the international sorority Gamma Phi Beta, the IPHS Honorary and the Pre-Physician Assistant Club. But she’s also found community in her IPHS classrooms, which she regards as some of “the best” on campus.
“Our professors get to know your name, where you’re from and what you’re about. Their office doors are always open and they want to help you get to where you’re going. I feel like it’s been an incredible help as I prepare myself to enter the workforce and eventually become a physician’s assistant,” Oven said.
Oven added that as a member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, she admires the work of the Alma College Diversity and Inclusion Office, particularly its efforts to recognize Native American heritage, and spotlight other minority cultures and identities.
Oven admits that as an underclassman, taking on a challenging course load in the sciences, she struggled with some of her classwork. However, thanks to Alma’s small class sizes and the community it affords, as well as the myriad options for receiving help in the Academic Support and Disability Services Office, she said she was able to get back on her feet in no time.
Oven also had a memorable experience on a study abroad trip to Ecuador, for which she received financial assistance through the Venture grant program. Living in the capital city, Quito, for a month allowed her to fully immerse herself in the Spanish language, which improved her speech and diction.
Those skills, she hopes, will translate to her professional career, as she works with non-English speakers at home.
“Everyone needs medical attention at some point, and I think that if you can speak the language of those who cannot speak English, you’ll be in a much better position to take care of them than if you had to go through a translator,” Oven said.