MOUNT OLIVE — Sarah Best of Newton Grove received the distinguished Dr. Thomas R. Morris Award for Academic Excellence at the University of Mount Olive’s Fall Commencement.
The $3,000 cash award is given to the baccalaureate graduate who best exemplifies serious academic pursuit and love and breadth of learning. The award requires a minimum 3.7 cumulative grade point average and exhibited leadership in extracurricular activities. The recipient must have been a full-time student and is selected by a committee of faculty members and Student Government Association representatives.
This year’s recipient, Sarah Best, grew up on her family’s farm in Newton Grove, a small rural town in Sampson County. Best is the daughter of Greg and Paula Best of Newton Grove and has two siblings, a brother Isaac and a sister Leila. Best attends Newton Grove Baptist Church and has been an active member of the University of Mount Olive’s Collegiate FFA and Collegiate Young Farmer and Rancher Committee serving as chair this year. Best has strong faith and the drive to succeed. She has accepted a position with Butterball after graduation as Turkey Logistics Specialist.
Tim Warren, Best’s high school agricultural teacher/FFA Advisor and UMO professor, said “Sarah is an exceptional person, student and leader. In the eight years that I have known Sarah she has been a role model and the epitome of a great student and person for her peers and all who know her.”
Dr. Sandy Maddox, Director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center, said, “Sarah is one of a kind. She exemplifies leadership. She has a tremendous work ethic and regardless of what she undertakes, she strives always to do her best. She has excelled not only academically, but has provided leadership to numerous collegiate organizations here on campus, and through these organizations has served as an excellent representative of the University in competitions and leadership roles at the national level. Sarah has accomplished all of this while working almost full time with agricultural businesses in our region that are engaged in the global market place. The remarkable thing is that she manages all of these things and always does it with a smile. Sarah is a remarkable young lady and is very deserving of this award.”
Benefactor of the Morris Award is retired Goldsboro optometrist, Dr. Thomas R. Morris. A native of Nahunta in Wayne County, Dr. Morris was raised in the Union Grove OFWB Church. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, he now resides in Wilmington.