With a quiet voice and kind smile, LSA junior Olivia Rath’s greatest accomplishments are unknown to her, but her dedication to the University community shines through in everything she does.
The Statement is The Michigan Daily’s weekly news magazine, distributed every Wednesday during the academic year.
“I saw something on Pinterest the other day,” Rath said in an interview. “It’s probably stupid but it really resonated with me. It said you don’t climb a mountain for the world to see you, you climb a mountain so you can see the world.”
Raised in Farmington Hills, Mich., Rath is an Organization Studies and Program in the Environment double major with a minor in Spanish.
Among Rath’s involvement includes Dance Marathon, where she is the rising planning director, Graham Sustainability Scholars, and an Organization Studies Club. She works in two research labs and coordinated a Culture Shift event.
Her highest priority on campus is Dance Marathon, which Rath has participated in for three years. She said the aspect that appealed to her the most was the campus unity she felt.
“I fell in love with it after my first year,” Rath said. “It really unites the three parts of campus — the academic campus, the hospital, and the athletics, because we get our venue from them.”
One of Rath’s other major accomplishments from this year is serving as a Culture Shift Coordinator. Culture Shift is an event created to be a platform for student leaders to engage with each other on campus. This year, the issue the event highlighted was sexual assault prevention.
“It provides students with a common academic ground on an issue and a space for students to have a productive space to have a dialogue about those issues,” Rath explained. “We also work to include students who wouldn’t otherwise be given a seat at the table for these kinds of dialogues.”
Rath said, as someone who primarily works behind the scenes for many of her organizations, a Student of the Year award has served as validation that her hard work is paying off.
“It definitely shows that I’ve accomplished something,” Rath said. “I don’t feel like what I’ve done is a lot because I see it as a part of the campus experience.”
LSA senior Marissa Alaniz, who worked as Rath’s director in DMUM, said Rath was an essential part of the DMUM leadership team.
Alaniz said Rath’s professionalism and grace helped her easily find the balance between delegating tasks and serving as a leader. She added that Rath’s kindness and patience made their work relationship a supportive and friendly one as well.
“The behind-the-scenes nature of her work often leads it to go unnoticed, but Olivia has helped DMUM greatly in the short-term and long-term,” Alaniz said. “Her committee succeeded in working with local businesses to acquire item donations for our silent auction at our Gala and food donations for our Dance Marathon, and she has laid the groundwork for her position in the long-term in continuing to elevate our partners’ support for DMUM.”
Alaniz added she is confident that Rath’s passion and drive will benefit her greatly in future endeavors.
Rath added that her experience at the University has shaped the level of involvement with campus organizations she has taken part in.
“I’m the kind of person who goes to all of the free lectures I can,” Rath said. “All of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with — I can’t imagine not using those opportunities, because it comes with the university experience.”
Looking forward, Rath said she hopes to work in sustainability development and is open to any workplace where an organization would intersect with the natural environment.
“I don’t ever want to leave this place,” Rath said. “I hope I’ll be able to find communities that are as productive and helpful as the ones I’ve found here.”