Olivia Brown ’23, ’24 MBA, Makes a Name For Herself On and Off The Court

Thinking of transferring to Valpo? Olivia Brown ’23, ’24 MBA, made the switch halfway through her undergraduate experience but maxed out her time as a Beacon down to the buzzer. In addition to earning two degrees in just five years, Olivia achieved so much: earning a starting position on the women’s basketball team, producing a podcast with her best friend, and locking down a dream internship at the National Collegiate Athletics Associate (NCAA). 

Olivia Brown ’23, ’24 MBA and parents

Olivia started playing basketball at a very young age – a love shared by her entire family. Her mom coached her teams growing up, and both of her younger sisters also play collegiate-level basketball: Jillian at the University of Virginia and Macy at the University of Michigan. It was only natural that Olivia would take the lead, starting as a guard for St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York. Ultimately, it was this passion for the sport that inspired her to brave the unknown and transfer to Valpo at the start of her junior year.

“It was definitely basketball. Of course, I liked Valpo, Valpo’s proximity to Chicago, and that it’s only two hours from my home in Grand Rapids. But it was the all-female coaching staff and the team that set the program apart,” Olivia says. “It just checked all the boxes.”

When Olivia first transferred to Valpo, the basketball team was a much-needed place of community and friendship. “It’s a lot easier to come into college as a freshman because you come collectively as the freshman class, living in the freshman dorms, and having that community that comes along with being a freshman. As a transfer student, it can feel like you’re on your own,” Olivia shares. It’s not an uncommon feeling, but it isn’t written in stone. The number one piece of advice transfer students give to others considering making the switch is to get out there and get involved. For Olivia, that calling was realized on the basketball team.

“My teammates are all-around just my favorite part of being at Valpo. I’m so fortunate to have such a great group of girls that I play with and we have become life-long friends,” Olivia says, reminiscing on travel, meals together on the road, and team bonding off the court. “I’m so happy when I’m with them. That’s on the court, too. But spending time with the team off the court is my favorite part.”

Olivia Brown ’23, ’24 MBA

By that same token, student-athletes aren’t defined by just their sports. Sports are just a meaningful extension of the person within. Outside of basketball, Olivia and her teammate, Olivia Sims ’25, created their podcast, “Liv Off-Court,” through 95.1 The Source, the University radio station accessible across the Region. “We’re best friends and both transfer students. So we just had the idea of podcasting and talking about that experience to anyone who needs to hear it,” Olivia explains. (Be sure to keep an eye out for new episodes once the basketball season wraps up!)

Academics were another thing that kept Olivia grounded during the basketball grind. Even before she came to Valpo, she carried a passion for journalism that flourished in Valpo’s communication program and has expanded while pursuing her master’s degree in business administration. “It’s not like you just show up to class, you take your notes, and you leave. That’s not how it is in the communication program. It’s so engaging. The two years I was in that program opened a lot of doors for what I could do for my career,” she says, listing courses in public relations, journalism, storytelling, social media, and more. “For my MBA, I wanted to expand those same skills into finance, marketing, accounting, and everything else that goes into business. That baseline understanding will make me more prepared for the real world.”

Both her hobbies and studies were instrumental in helping Olivia highlight her identity beyond the student-athlete label – something she encourages all her fellow student-athletes to reflect on. “Finding out who you are off the court or the field is so important. I think a lot of athletes grow up thinking, ‘Oh, I’m a baseball player’ or ‘Oh, I’m a soccer player.’ So, I think that, especially in college, you have to figure out a way to define yourself outside of just your sport. One way to do that is through different hobbies, your major, or whatever avenue works best for you. Otherwise, it’s really easy to get wrapped up in ‘all I bring to the table is that I’m an athlete,’ and you start to define yourself by wins and losses,” she says. To give you a starting point, Olivia shared her outlets: hanging out with friends, reading, and external hobbies that have made all the difference for her mental health.

Following her own advice has led Olivia through a highly successful collegiate career. She’s in Valpo’s starting lineup, surpassing an impressive 1,000-point milestone, and nearing the end of her final collegiate season with Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-American awards under her belt. It’s easy to say that this parting semester is feeling extra bittersweet.

Olivia Brown

“I’m excited for the next stage of my life, but I also am really trying to live in the moment and be grateful for playing while I still can,” she shares. “I think it’s going to hit me really hard once I’m out of it. We have a ton of fun, and I’m going to miss my teammates and traveling on the road and every one of those things. This season has gone by so fast already…I can’t even wrap my head around it.”

Just because Olivia is closing her chapter on college basketball doesn’t mean she’s leaving the world of sports. Shortly after graduation, Olivia will be making the move to Indianapolis for a full-time editorial development internship with the NCAA. The agenda: writing stories about flourishing student-athletes in their communication department. “As somebody who could never pinpoint exactly what I want to do, I’m so excited for this opportunity with the NCAA. One of the big things is making connections. I’m not only going to work in the editorial department, but I can also work in marketing, their championships and alliances, and their DEI department,” Olivia says. “I’m going to get a very well-rounded experience and honestly, I just plan to go in there and ask a ton of questions and be really curious.”

From there, Olivia dreams of earning a leadership position in management or at a sports organization – and we know she is well up to the task. Extending a thank you to her boyfriend, family, friends, and professors, Olivia is looking ahead with the highest of hopes.

If Olivia’s path is one you’d like to take, explore Valpo’s communication department and master of business administration. And be sure to catch a women’s basketball game next time you’re in town!

Olivia Brown ’23, ’24 MBA