Olyvia Ashbrook-Hall: Embracing challenges

Photo of Olyvia

At Ohio Northern University, Olyvia Ashbrook-Hall is developing an invaluable life skill: how to embrace challenge.

From her civil engineering coursework to competing in cross country and track, she is no longer afraid to be less-than-perfect or to get outside her comfort zone, because she knows that challenge leads to personal growth.

“In high school, I got straight A’s and was the salutatorian of my class. I was not prepared for how hard college would be,” she admitted. “My experience at ONU has changed my outlook. Before, I gravitated toward what was easy for me because I didn’t like the uncomfortable feeling of being embarrassed or not knowing the answer to something. Now, I’ve learned it’s okay to be confused sometimes, and I’ve learned to trust myself and be confident.”

Olyvia grew up on a farm in Alexandria, Ohio, and says she dreamed of being a farmer for much of her childhood. Her dad and role model not only farmed, but he built innovative structures as a civil engineer who worked from home.

Photo of Olyvia jumping over a hurdle

“I remember watching him design towers on his computer and thinking it was cool,” said Olyvia. “As I grew older, I became more interested in engineering through my dad. He was so excited (about my interest) and would try to explain engineering concepts to me that made no sense at all.”

Now, she adds, one of her favorite things to do when she goes home is to share what she’s learned with her dad. “He always tells me how cool it is to see my passion and knowledge grow.”

Olyvia is also enthusiastic about cross country and track. A member of ONU’s team, she excels at the outdoor 400 hurdle. Her closest friends are her Polar Bear teammates.

“I am so proud to have teammates who are uplifting and supportive,” she said. “I know the people I’ve met on this team will be lifelong friends.”

Another extracurricular activity that Olyvia enjoys is serving on the Engineering Dean’s Team. She gives prospective students tours of The James Lehr Kennedy Engineering building, and shares with them reasons why they should choose ONU.

“ONU students have a special passion for this school,” she says. “I love the environment and support that all students have for each other. Seeing school spirit at sporting events and Bears supporting Bears is one of my favorite things about ONU.”