Three Majors, 3½ Years, One Proud Grad


12/19/2015

You'll forgive Olivia Bratt if her St. Ambrose graduation celebration was somewhat subdued.

After completing degree requirements for three majors in just 3½ years, the 21-year-old from Norwalk, Iowa, could use a little time for quiet reflection.

"I'm excited - it's a great accomplishment," said Bratt, who was among 291 degree candidates at the 2015 Winter Commencement ceremonies at the Davenport RiverCenter on Saturday, Dec, 19. "But, yeah, I think I'm mostly ready for napping and taking care of myself for a while."

Bratt completed major studies in psychology, sociology and women and gender studies, and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. But she definitely did not spend the entirety of her college career in classrooms and the library.

"I've been involved in everything for forever," she said.

Bratt was a member of SAU's inaugural Honors Program cohort, helped create (and named) the campus Bystander Awareness program, wrote for the HerCampus website and was active in GreenLife and the Triota Honor Society.

She also held the titles of dancer, committee member, morale captain and morale director on the executive board for the St. Ambrose Dance Marathon, and, through her membership on the Sexual Assault Awareness Team, truly found her voice and her passion.

Bratt was virtually born to be Ambrosian. Her mother, Laura '97, was a member of the last class at St. Ambrose to receive undergraduate degrees in occupational therapy. Olivia was six months old when her mother started at St. Ambrose. She swam in the pool formerly housed in LeClaire Hall and was among the first children looked after at the Children's Campus.

Her mother's occupational therapy cohort also practiced pediatric skills on young Olivia. So it made sense that she came to St. Ambrose intending to follow her mother into occupational therapy. In fact, Olivia bristled a bit when she heard that a number of students change majors early in their academic careers.

"I was like 'No. I have wanted to do this forever. My mom is an OT. This is what I know, what I like to do," she said.

And?

"Nope," she said with a laugh. "But I think that's OK, because this is where you figure out who you are."

As a student, Bratt's passion for women's rights led to a parttime position with the SafePath Survivor Resources Domestic Violence Center in Davenport. She will take a fulltime position there in the coming weeks.

Graduating means living outside North Hall for the first time since she came to St. Ambrose, but staying in Davenport will allow her to maintain the close friendships she forged from the outset with members of the academic-themed residence hall community. She also plans to participate as an alum in the March 5 Dance Marathon, which she said has taught her "the things we can do as a community."

Like so many St. Ambrose graduates before her, Bratt said it is that sense of community she will treasure most among her St. Ambrose memories. She spent hours at a time, she said, in the offices of faculty members willing to listen, advise and assist her. She built friendships through clubs, organizations and activities.

"I am glad I came here," she said. "This is a small community and it is easy to connect."

Bratt built those friendships and memories while taking an average class-load of between 16 and 17 credit hours per semester and, recently, while working eight hours each day at SafePath. She said working fulltime may help her decide whether to pursue a Masters in Social Work degree in the near future.

"I think this is kind of my time," she said.

She certainly has earned it.

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