Olivia Theus, '18

Olivia Theus stands in front of the plaza lights.

Senior Olivia Theus hadn’t always planned on attending Rockhurst University. In her early college searches, she was focused on larger schools.  

“My high school was super, super small so I wanted to go somewhere really big and just try something new,” Theus said.  

She began looking at places like Kansas State University, the University of Oregon, and Virginia Military Institute, among others. She ruled out several of them early on. While she wanted to go to a bigger school, several of these were too big.  

“I was looking for somewhere where I felt like I had a lot of options that wasn’t way too big,” Theus said. “I wanted somewhere where I could talk about my faith and be around people of similar values. I also wanted to go somewhere pretty, where I could do a lot of fun stuff.” 

Those values helped her choose her home for the next four years. Narrowing down her search to Kansas State and Rockhurst, she ultimately ended up choosing Rockhurst because K-State did not have a nursing program.

“I think I picked Rockhurst because it was the right distance from home and it was a Jesuit university. The scholarship was really nice, and I felt like I could be involved with whatever I wanted to be involved with,” Theus said. 

Wanting to make an impact, Theus chose biology with a pre-medicine track and Spanish as her majors coming into college.  

“I wanted to be a doctor because when I was younger my mom had cancer and I decided then that I wanted to do something in health care, specifically in the medical field, because you always hear doctors make a huge impact,” Theus said. “If I had gone pre-med there would be so many research options and I’m really interested in that kind of stuff.” 

Although ready and eager to follow her dream of becoming a doctor, she struggled with the newfound freedom college provided.  

“I think that being away from home and trying to get the best grades possible while trying to balance out between this newfound freedom and this type of stuff that I hadn’t been doing before was a big shift in my life,” Theus said.  

She decided to change from the pre-med track to the nursing track during sophomore year. While she had to do some extra work to catch up with her peers, Theus said nursing advisors and professors were willing to provide any help possible to get her where she needed to be.  

“I had to do a lot of catch-up and find other university classes that I could afford and that would dual credit for Rockhurst and Research. I was a full-time student at Johnson County Community College in the summer between freshman and sophomore and sophomore to junior years,” Theus said.  

“You know how in swimming you wear a drag suit and it makes it way harder, but when you actually race and you only wear one swimming suit it’s much easier to get through? I think it’s like that. It’s a very difficult program, but I think the instructors are very willing to work with you and they give you a lot of opportunities to talk to them,” Theus said. “I think at a bigger school you’re just a number, but here you can tell that they care because they’ll say, ‘Well, if you can’t come in this day, you can come in this day, and I’ll talk to you for six hours if you need it and we’ll help you pass this class.’ I appreciate that aspect.”