MOUNT OLIVE — Attending the University of Mount Olive has been a dream come true for English major Rachel Southerland. Being from the small town of Pink Hill, Southerland always knew she wanted to attend a university close to home.
“Since I was a little girl, I always knew that I wanted to attend UMO. I loved the small classes, the rural campus, and the fact the school was only be 45 minutes from home,” recalled Southerland. “However, I did not know how I would afford my degree. I thank God that UMO offered me a full ride.”
In the fall of 2013, Southerland began her first semester at UMO. She immediately knew she had made the right decision. UMO became a second home for Southerland. She enjoyed getting to know her professors and spending time learning about literature and the different aspects of writing.
In the classroom Southerland’s development as a writer and a critical thinker was strengthened by the dedicated support from the English professors. She became involved in Sigma Tau Delta, the International Honors Society, and was elected as President of the club during her senior year.
“Being a part of Sigma Tau Delta has been a fun experience. I have enjoyed being able to discuss different literature and aspects of English with the other members. One of my favorite memories of the club was putting together a ‘Poe Party’. We read works of Edgar Allan Poe, had snacks, and just enjoyed a spooky evening of fun,” said Southerland.
Despite her full schedule of classes and club meetings, Southerland still found time to work on campus. She has worked as a work study student, as a student tutor, as a supplemental instructor, and as an intern in the Office of Public Relations.
“UMO has been a complete blessing in my life. I have developed relationship and skills that will help me in the real working environment. I cannot thank people like Dr. Linda Holland-Toll, Dr. Keely Byars-Nichols, Dr. Jill Gerard, and Mrs. Rhonda Jessup for believing in me and pushing me to my full potential.”
After graduation in December of 2016, Southerland hopes to enter into the Public Relations field with the ambition of one day becoming the poet laureate of North Carolina. “I am a dreamer, and I know UMO has given me the skills and resources I will need to make my dreams come true.” Southerland concluded.