05/09/05 — Not too late, early for MOC graduates

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Not too late, early for MOC graduates

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 9, 2005 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE-This year's Mount Olive College graduating class represented a lot of territory - from a student who finished his studies in three years to graduate at 21, to a 58-year-old retired military man with three children of his own in college.

On Saturday afternoon during ceremonies in College Hall, the youngest to cross the stage this year was Jacob Paugh of Goldsboro, earning a bachelor's degree. Majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry, he will be remembered as an outstanding scholar who received numerous awards during his college career.

What he will treasure most from his college experience, he said, are the knowledge he received, the people he met and the trips he took.

"I enjoyed college. I had some great professors," he said, naming Willis Brown, Dr. Richard Bounds and Dr. Angela Foster among them.

"They took us on some great field trips to the mountains and beach. For a biologist, there's nothing greater than that."

Paugh moved to Goldsboro in 1992 when his Air Force father was stationed at Seymour Johnson. He graduated from Wayne Christian in 2002, where he met fiancee Hope Radford, now a sophomore at Barton College. A December wedding is planned.

"We've got good families behind us," he said. "Without that, I don't know how people do it."

Commuting to school and taking a full course load to finish in three years, Paugh also earned enough scholarship money to finance his education and graduate debt-free.

As if that wasn't enough good news, Paugh was notified last week that he had been hired as a chemist with Hospira in Rocky Mount. He starts today.

The eldest member of the class of 2005, Roosevelt Curry, Jr., also lives in Goldsboro. The first in his family to receive a four-year degree said he expected 18 relatives to converge over the weekend in support.

"They're all proud of me," he said. A cookout and family reunion were planned for the occasion.

"It's emotional. It will tie this family even tighter."

Curry said he took college courses "off and on" during his 28 years in the Air Force, but became a full-time student at the Seymour Johnson site in December 2002.

While it was challenging to return to college, he said there was a friendly atmosphere that made it easier.

"It was good. I really enjoyed it," he said.

Graduating on Saturday made him proud of the effort.

"I'm from the old school of thinking," he said. "As an African American, I feel like I'm raising the bar for my grandkids."

It also inspired one of his daughters.

"She said, 'If you can go back to school, I can do it,'" he said. "That was good incentive for me staying in."

Curry has one daughter at the University of Nebraska and two at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Graduating with a degree in applied science, Curry says he might pursue a job in housing management.

"I've still got a couple good years of work life left in me," he said.