Tempe photo by Adeline Burger

Olivia Rempe poses for a portrait outside of the Nebraska Union on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

With almost two years sober, Olivia Rempe is sharing her recovery story to lessen the stigma around mental health and addiction.

Growing up in a suburb outside of Chicago, Rempe, now a senior marketing major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said she was introduced to alcohol during her freshman year of high school. Rempe said when she started her freshman year of college away from home, she realized that she would be able to binge drink without judgment.

Rempe said she realized she had a problem with alcohol when her sorority, Kappa Delta, brought her in to discuss her behavior, mostly about an incident where she was charged with minor in possession.

Rempe said they brought to light other instances where drinking was a problem as well, including drinking at inappropriate times, such as philanthropy events that were held on campus.

“That was probably the most divine defining experience,” Rempe said. “When other people outside of my immediate community brought that up, that is what opened my mind or my eyes to it.”

Rempe said she realized she would have to make a drastic change in her life in order to still be a part of the sorority she loved. 

“In order for me to actually get them to take me seriously and take my commitment to this seriously, I have to make a drastic life choice and that choice was to stop drinking,” Rempe said.

Rempe said she has been sober since April 13, 2019, in her sophomore year. During the first couple of weeks of her sobriety, Rempe said it was not hard to remain sober since she was busy preparing for finals.

When she returned home to Illinois after the semester ended, Rempe said she had a therapist she began meeting with, and she also joined an Alcoholics Anonymous group.

Tim Hodges, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute and assistant professor of practice at the College of Business, said he first met Rempe during her sophomore year because she was a part of the Clifton Builders Program he leads. Hodges said he appreciates Rempe’s energy level and charisma.

“People really are drawn to her and she has this great, fun personality to be around,” Hodges said. “There’s also a depth about her.”

Hodges said he did not notice Rempe was struggling during her time in his class, but when she took another one of his classes during the summer, he noticed her transformation toward becoming better.

“She had to reintroduce herself because she really was a totally different person,” Hodges said. “She took things more seriously and she was just starting to share her story then.”

Hodges said there is something that really stands out about Rempe, like her courage and her willingness to share her own story.

When she returned to school, Rempe said she decided to join the professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, so she could meet a different community of people who would want to know her in a professional environment instead of a party one.

“I started investing all my time and effort into this organization and putting all of that pent-up energy into this organization,” Rempe said. “It got me more involved within my major and I started seeing more opportunities opening up for me in terms of jobs. The more that I cared about my school and I cared about my professional development, the more people noticed.”

Rempe said she now works in the College of Business as a peer career coach, a teaching assistant and a social media and marketing intern for the Communications, Marketing and External Relations office. 

Although Rempe said she does not know what she wants to do after she graduates with her bachelor’s degree, she is thinking about continuing her schooling at UNL because she does not have a desire to go anywhere else.

“I love all the relationships that I’ve forged with my professors and the other students and the faculty here,” Rempe said. “This school and the resources that I had access to through the College of Business was something that really helped me out during a dark time. It helped me see the light, which is why I want to continue to go to school here.”