This year’s cohort of fellows working alongside President Lindsay and the senior leadership team has expanded to a team of 12 students.
Jada Bonnett is a senior computer science — systems major with an honors minor. She is honored to serve as this year’s presidential fellow to Stephen Olson, Taylor’s vice president for business and finance/CFO.
With the rhythms of observing Olson in his daily work comes the opportunity for the development of a great mentorship and even friendship.
“I think also a great attribute of the fellows program is the mentorship aspect and relationship,” Bonnett said. “So having Stephen being not only my boss but also someone who is helping me throughout these next couple of months and stress of this year, providing some of his wisdom and also just guidance in life.”
Olson and Bonnett have been collaborating along with the entirety of the finance and business team to work on dining solutions in this transitional time for Taylor’s campus.
Together, they’ve been exploring plans for the construction of Zondy’s, the renovation of the dining commons and reflecting and implementing student feedback relating to the dining options in Euler.
Bonnett’s contribution to this project has been important as she represents a student perspective in the matter.
“I’ve been helping figure out what solutions we can be working with in the present and how we can be making the space that we do have most efficient and most effective for everyone,” Bonnett said.
As chief financial officer, Olson holds a big role on campus. Bonnett has especially enjoyed the chance to have a front-seat view of his leadership style and habits.
According to Bonnett, Olson has excelled in the balance of equipping his team to meet their various obligations while also understanding their needs as humans.
“I think since he’s been here for so long, he understands all the inner workings really well, and so he gets what people need from him, but he also understands where people can be pushed to do more,” Bonnett said. “So I admire the ways in which he handles getting things done correctly and on time but with grace and with love.”
Bonnett believes it is this tendency toward grace that sets apart Taylor’s senior leadership team.
As full-time students with demanding responsibilities, social lives and personal ambitions on top of their commitment to their work, the fellows are continually learning how to best manage it all.
Many fellows log over 15 hours a week in the office, coupled with a full class load and other commitments, such as to sports teams or outside internships.
A week of work for Bonnett looks like going into the office four days out of the week. She has dedicated the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day for schoolwork and work-related commitments in order to protect sacred evening hours for socializing and rest.
“I think a really challenging experience currently that I’m trying to work through has been figuring out being in class, and then the next minute you’re in the office working,” Bonnett said. “It’s a very different frame of mind.”
Bonnett and her cohort have come to depend on their professors and supervisors being gracious to honor their often-conflicting responsibilities and interpersonal needs.
It is in these personal connections with faculty that Bonnett has encountered the heart behind many of the university’s leaders.
“I think it’s really cool to be able to enter into an office of these people that are really leading the university, but you’re getting to have conversations with them and getting to hear about the thoughtfulness behind every action on campus and how everything is so intentional and so well-thought-out,” Bonnett said.
Bonnett also reflected on the gift that it has been to do life day in and day out with the entire cohort, who are experiencing the same types of stresses and routines.
Though many of them came from different circles, the team has enjoyed coming together and learning from each other while developing close friendships.
“It’s just kind of fun then to see a group of people that wouldn’t be together that are all wanting to lead and wanting to serve the campus,” Bonnett said. “Being in the same room together, even, is just exciting, and seeing how people use their gifts in different ways and how they…are able to glorify Christ through their different majors and their different abilities.”
Having the unique opportunity to be mentored by Olson and the senior leadership team has been very impactful for Bonnett, even just in the first two months of the school year.
Mentorship is available for any — and all — students who desire it.
“I would definitely recommend just meeting with people one-on-one,” Bonnet said. “Even as simple as someone you meet in passing or someone you interact with that works for the university. Just investing in one relationship…can be an astronomical change of your experience and your deeper relationships.”
Ultimately, serving as a fellow has allowed Bonnett the opportunity to invest in Taylor on a deeper level.
Through this perspective, she has come to see how the Lord has worked through the lives of those leading the university.
“I think I’m just so much more apparent to the ways in which the Lord has been using Taylor, in the past and in the future,” she said.
Throughout time, it is God’s faithfulness to Taylor that has remained the same.
As Bonnett has exemplified, it is in humble response to his promptings that we, as members of the Taylor family, may be able to trace glimpses of his faithful hand year after year.