MOUNT OLIVE — The University of Mount Olive (UMO) celebrated 66 years of providing Christian higher education at the University’s annual Founders Day Worship Service on Wednesday. The guest speaker was Dianne Brown Riley-Gray. Gray, a native of Johnston County, worked at the University of Mount Olive for 38 years before accepting a position as Director of Church Ministry at the Free Will Baptist Children’s Home in 2011. The title of her message was “A Legacy of Giants.”
Each year during the Founders Day celebration, the University awards one student with the Founders Leadership Award, a scholarship awarded in memory of the late Dr. W. Burkette Raper, President of Mount Olive College 1954-1995. Payable on future educational expenses at UMO, the scholarship is presented to a senior in the traditional program who has distinguished themselves as an individual of character and initiative and who has demonstrated strong leadership qualities toward making UMO the institution of Christian higher education envisioned by its founders. The recipient is selected by a committee of faculty, student and staff representatives.
This year’s Founders Leadership Award was presented to Janeice Leonard of Lexington, N.C. Leonard is a senior agriculture education and agriculture production systems major. She is the daughter of Michael and Shelly Leonard.
In her time at the University of Mount Olive, Leonard has served in several leadership roles in the Collegiate FFA chapter and currently serves as chapter president. She has spearheaded various community service events including the annual Coats for Kids project. According to one of her professors, Leonard always looks for opportunities to serve others and lead. She is a member of Sisterhood of Crown and Martlet and a part of the annual “Sing for Another Day” event to support Southeastern Cancer Care in Goldsboro. Leonard was also named to the 2017 UMO Homecoming Court.
Leonard’s award nominator said, “Anytime that Janeice is presented with an opportunity to participate in anything on campus she eagerly jumps on board. She possesses strong leadership and outstanding character that will take her far in her life and career. She is always willing to support and represent UMO.”
For the final portion of the Founder’s Day service, President Philip P. Kerstetter recognized faculty and staff members for their continued years of service.