Story by Erik Potter
Some people come to Mizzou for a specific major, and they have a specific career goal in mind. Olivia Hunt came for the opposite reason.
“Mizzou is a big school, and I knew I would have a lot of opportunities to figure out what I wanted to do,” says the native of University City, Missouri.
Hunt began as a psychology major because she thought she wanted to study people, but she kept an open mind. After her first semester, she felt the tug of sociology, which is the science of group behavior. It felt accessible and intriguing to her. “You can study it anywhere — going to the store or taking a Greyhound bus can be interesting.”
Now a junior, Hunt wants to pursue a career in human resources, where she can use her knowledge of group behavior to help organizations adapt to change and solve problems.
She took the same watch-and-wait approach to her campus involvement. She made no commitments her first semester. “I’m going to sit here and see what’s around me,” she says of her attitude at the time.
By her second semester, however, she was ready to act.
Hunt, who had been a peer educator in high school, discovered Mizzou’s Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) Center. She took a training class and became a certified peer educator on campus. In her role, she gives presentations about domestic violence, sexual violence and other topics at the invitation of campus and student groups.
The ties between the RSVP topics and her sociology coursework are many, and they reinforce each other. In class, she studies how people define and categorize groups and then act on those categorizations. “That all comes up in sociology and manifests in interpersonal violence,” Hunt says.
Hunt also got involved with MizzouRec. An exercise lover, she spent a lot of time freshman year taking classes through TigerX, MizzouRec’s group-fitness program. She never planned to become an instructor herself until one day after class an instructor suggested she apply. She has now taught various classes for the past three semesters.
But there was one thing Hunt knew she wanted to do at Mizzou from the beginning: study abroad.
She had missed out on that experience in high school. Lack of money meant she had to stay home while many of her friends from French class spent two weeks in France.
Another thing that attracted her to Mizzou was that it was affordable enough for her that she was pretty certain she would be able to pay for a semester-long study abroad. Any doubt she had on that point was erased in fall 2018 when she won a $5,000 Bond International Scholars Award.
2018 was the first year for the scholarship, which was funded by a donation from former U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, and is awarded to five semester-long study-abroad students.
Hunt, a double-major in sociology and French, left Jan. 6 for a semester at University Jean Moulin Lyon 3 in Lyon, France.
This time, she won’t be holding anything back. Lyon is known as the food capital of the world, and Hunt, who has considered becoming vegan or vegetarian in the past, will be fully indulgent.
“No restrictions,” she says. “Maybe when I get back I’ll be ready for restrictions.”
A dinner out while studying abroad in Ireland sparks the idea for a specialty sauces shop, now open in the MU Student Center.