MOUNT OLIVE — Each year, Victory Media evaluates schools and employers throughout the nation and ranks them based on their “military friendliness,” which is described as an organization’s investment in the improvement of the lives of veterans and active duty military personnel. The Military Friendly list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that are working to embrace veterans as their students. For several years, the University of Mount Olive (UMO) has made the list as one of the nation’s Military Friendly small, private colleges on militaryfriendly.com/schools.
Among the reasons UMO was selected as military friendly are its various programs for students – online programs, one-night-a-week-programs, and five-week programming options. Additionally, UMO is made up of military friendly faculty, many of whom have served in the armed forces themselves.
On average UMO serves around 300 military students and military family members enrolled within the University’s eight eastern North Carolina locations.
One recent graduate, Roy “Linn” Ipock of Seven Springs, attended three UMO locations during his degree pursuit. Ipock spent 24 years in the Air Force before retiring in 2007 as a Master Sergeant. Prior to his retirement, Ipock met with a UMO guidance counselor at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, who introduced him to the idea of pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Several of his friends, both military and civilian, spoke highly of the programs at UMO. Ipock kept that thought in the back of his mind for several years, and when the time was right he enrolled. He took online and seated classes, attending the UMO locations in Mount Olive, Jacksonville, and New Bern.
“The thing I liked the most about each UMO location was the people,” he said. He praised the professors that he considers friends, counselors who changed his life, and students who were “a breath of fresh air.”
Ipock graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology and a minor in Religious Studies and Sociology. “My schooling, along with my military background, have prepared me for another exciting career,” he said.
Not only is UMO a great place for military retirees looking to solidify the next phase in their career journey, it is also a great place for those still enlisted.
UMO sophomore and Air Force Reservist Rosa Salabarria is a perfect example. Salabarria began her military career in 2013 at SJAFB. In 2014, she was deployed to Afghanistan. In August 2016, she became a reservist and began pursuing her education with the University of Mount Olive in Mount Olive.
“I chose UMO for several reasons,” she shared. Chief among those were the quality of programs, the caring faculty, and the location, as her husband is still in the Air Force stationed at Seymour Johnson.
Salabarria is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in graphic design. From her first encounter at the institution, she felt the support of the staff, faculty, and professors.
“I still have a military obligation that spills over into my role as a student,” she said. “The professors are very understanding of my service commitment, and the Veterans Affairs representatives do a great job helping military service personnel transition into the educational environment.”
Linn Ipock and Rosa Salabarria are two examples of individuals who have made the transition from two very different worlds – a military base to a university campus. There is no doubt that this was a challenge. They agree that UMO lives up to its title of military friendly; their experiences demonstrate that UMO is able to offer a plentiful supply of resources and support to make the shift from military to college simple and comfortable.
Information provided by the University of Mount Olive.