Features Spring 2023

A New Home

“I love meeting new people and telling their stories,” Olivianna Calmes said when asked what she loves most about her job at WBRC News in Birmingham, Alabama. A 2020 OBU journalism and mass communication graduate, Calmes is a multi-media journalist there.

Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Calmes spent most of her formative years in Taiwan where her parents serve as missionaries affiliated with the International Mission Board.

Calmes was familiar with OBU because her grandparents are residents of Shawnee and her grandfather was pastor of First Baptist Church for many years. When considering colleges, Calmes narrowed her selection to OBU and the University of Michigan.

“I visited OBU after my junior year of high school and had a fantastic experience because of the warm welcome of my tour guide. I felt right at home and loved the campus feel,” she explained.

At the start of her freshman year, Calmes was immediately connected with the OBU international office because she had attended an international high school. It served as a perfect catalyst to make friends, get involved, and celebrate rich diversity of culture and experiences with students from other backgrounds.

“As soon as I arrived on campus, I jumped in and wanted to experience all things OBU. I loved learning our school chant, “Ka-Rip!,” taking in all the fun of Welcome Week, staying up late in the Geiger Center, and making new friends. I knew OBU was going to be a place for me to build close relationships with both classmates and professors,” she said.

Entering the World of News

Because of her experiences overseas and her engagement with people from other countries, the study of international business was of particular interest to her. She was part of OBU TV News (now News on the Hill) for four years, gaining experience in nearly every role of broadcasting including that of reporter, anchor and producer. It was through these experiences that Calmes changed her path to pursue journalism and mass communications as a major and marketing as her minor.

“I had many opportunities to thrive in my major. I was given the chance to excel, grow and gain such rewarding new experiences through the encouragement of my professors. I felt very supported which gave me the confidence I needed to succeed,” she said.

Calmes participated in media conferences around the state and attended an OBU media trip to New York City where she had the opportunity to visit the NYC Fox studios. It was from that experience that the door to intern at Fox News in Los Angeles opened for the following summer.

“My internship in Los Angeles exposed me to the world of network news. It stretched my worldview even more, working and attending church there with brand new friends in a part of the country where I had never traveled. It really broadened my understanding of journalism,” she said.

During Calmes’ senior year at OBU, she interned at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City and gained practical experience in local news, shadowing the station’s crime reporter.

Engaging in Community

In addition to all the ways Calmes was enriched off campus, she credits her active involvement on campus as a further reason she cherished her time at OBU. She served as a herdie tour guide in admissions and as a student worker in Sarkeys. She was a student government senator and student body vice-president. She had opportunities to emcee and perform in multiple campus events and was nominated for “Best All-Around Female” for Harvest Court.

“OBU definitely impacted and changed me in a positive way. I was surrounded by wonderful students and professors who challenged me in my faith. I was part of a group of six female students who started as a way to provide accountability and evolved into providing deep friendships I will have for years,” she said.