05/11/08 — Friends, families gather to honor MOC graduates

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Friends, families gather to honor MOC graduates

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 11, 2008 10:56 AM

MOUNT OLIVE — It was a typical graduation scene Saturday at Mount Olive College.

And those who had just received their degrees had typical dreams.

“Sleep,” one said.

“I’m going to the beach for a few weeks,” added another. “I just don’t want to think about work right now.”

But during the ceremony, there were things happening inside Kornegay Arena that made this graduation day special.

The crowd seemed a bit more lively, signaling the very moment the graduates entered the building with hoots and hollers.

One by one, the names of those marching were shouted from the bleachers — and each looked through the crowd to return the cries of family members and friends with a wave or smile.

And then there were Krister Johansson and Lena Johansson Moberg.

They hadn’t just traveled across the county or state — but across the world — to see their son, Mick, graduate.

Mick, who graduated with a degree in environmental science, came to MOC from Sweden.

Those were the stories playing out in a town known for pickles.

Keynote speaker and MOC graduate, the Rev. Michael Barnhill, talked about something else the town is known for these days.

“It is no joke that the MOC Trojan baseball team is ranked first in the nation,” he said. “Now, Coach Lancaster would probably say, ‘We don’t need to dwell on this ... and he would be right. The baseball team still has a way to go ... and so do you.”

Some of the 370 students will be attending graduate school in the fall.

Like Moberg, who will attend Duke University at the end of the summer.

Others will head into the workforce.

Some are already there.

And at least one graduate will return to military life.

Chief Master Sergeant Kathleen M. Parrish was recognized as the recipient of Mount Olive College’s distinguished Lora W. and Maurice H. King Award during graduation.

An 18-year veteran of the Air Force and chief master sergeant for the James Binnicker Airman Leadership School Flight ACC PME Center at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the highly decorated troop receives a standing ovation from some and loud cheers from the others.

Barnhill offered this message to all of them.

“Along with my congratualtions come this invitation,” he said. “Will you be a non-conformist? Will you put behind the pride and selfishness that so plagues our world and allow your talents, your energy, your education, to be transformed into the image of Christ for the benefit of others?”

A fitting end to a typical Mount Olive day.

Close to the norm — but with a bit more flair.