MOUNT OLIVE — When adventure enthusiast Christopher Mouanoutoua graduated high school, he was itching to experience something new.
Mouanoutoua, a Long Beach, Calif., resident, settled at Fresno City College for two years. Although the institution met his educational needs, he was seeking a new adventure. He thought that moving across the country to eastern North Carolina was the perfect opportunity. He transferred to the University of Mount Olive in the Spring of 2014.
“I had an amazing scholarship offer from UMO through their founding organization, the Original Free Will Baptist church,” explained Mouanoutoua, a senior recreation and leisure studies (RLS) major. “The Original Free Will Baptist Church helped create the inception of my church in California. I also have a grand wanderlust for the outdoors and thought that this opportunity would be wonderful for me to see new places and meet new people.”
Mouanoutoua soon realized that UMO was the perfect fit for his academic and personal ambitions. He has made friends from across the globe, is a member of the La Belle Epoque Drama Club, and works with the health services department alongside Nurse Joanne Morgan.
In the spring of his junior year, Mouanoutoua was inspired by professor Dr. Joey Long to travel to London with the BUS 485 business travel course. This opportunity sparked Mouanoutoua’s interest and gave him the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
“Dr. Long came into one of our RLS classes and briefly described what the trip could possibly entail. To study sports-related business in London was a chance of a lifetime.Plus it was a reason to travel Europe,” smiled Mouanoutoua.
Mouanoutoua took the BUS 485 course this past spring and travelled to London in May.
“To sum it all up, every aspect of the trip was a wonderful learning experience. I loved meeting with the different businesses and understanding how they operate in the short term and seeing their long term aspirations. I’m also a huge fútbol fan, and London was the place to see some of the world’s premier teams, such as Chelsea and Arsenal,” said Mouanoutoua.
However, Mouanoutoua’s hunger for travel was not settled with his trip to London. After the course trip, he decided to stay in Europe and visit Poland.
“I took the opportunity to visit some summer camp friends in Poland. Some of the cities I visited were Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, and the Auschwitz internment camp. These experiences abroad gave me insight on the people’s lives in other countries and made me realize what I have and what I take for granted. Every day is a journey and it is about discovering who we are and identifying our real purpose. These experiences with my classmates in London and my friends in Poland fueled my passion for adventure,” said Mouanoutoua.
Mouanoutoua also works for Mountain Meadow Ranch Summer Camp in Susanville, Calif., where he met his Polish friends. He is one of the lead camp counselors and guides the backpacking and fishing excursions.
Needless to say, Mouanoutoua is making the most out of his college years. He attributes his ambitions and success to UMO and his liberal arts education.
“UMO is a liberal arts school, and I believe it helped me through my experiences abroad,” explained Mouanoutoua. “UMO has exposed me to different cultures and customs. My life has been enriched by the opportunity to study global ideas and travel.”
Mouanoutoua is set to graduate in the spring of 2016. In the future, he hopes to pursue a career with a non-profit organization. He is interested in working for Trout Unlimited or California Trout, which are non-profit organizations that protect and restore North America’s cold water fisheries and watersheds.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.