12/09/12 — Mount Olive fall graduation held

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Mount Olive fall graduation held

By John Joyce
Published in News on December 9, 2012 1:50 AM


Keynote speaker and revered National Public Radio newsman Carl Ray Kasell was awarded an honorary doctoral degree before he addressed the Mount Olive College graduating class.

The George and Annie Dail Kornegay Arena at Mount Olive College was at capacity Saturday, as more than 1,500 friends and family members filled the stands to cheer on their 2012 fall graduates.

Keynote speaker and revered National Public Radio newsman Carl Ray Kasell was awarded an honorary doctoral degree before he addressed the graduating class.

The 50-year veteran broadcast journalist and host of NPR's "Morning Edition," who also helped create and continues to host and judge the widely popular radio quiz show "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" was celebrated for his distinguished career and service to the field of journalism.

Kasell completed four years of college but did not graduate due to being drafted into military service.

After he was bestowed the title of Doctor of Humane Letters, Kasell spoke openly about the many obstacles he overcame early in his career in the hopes of inspiring the more than 280 graduates who are about to embark on their own paths toward success.

"When you get out in the world or take on a project that is low or seems bad, you can work at it and grow and see it get better and better," Kasell said.

Most of the Mount Olive College grads are working adults whose path to an education included more than simply going to class.

Brandon Robert Johnson, a husband and father of two, graduated with a degree in information systems and now hopes to find work in the information technology field in the Raleigh area.

Working and going to school while raising a 3-year-old boy and a not-yet-2-year-old girl is not without difficulty.

"Let's just say I had a lot of help," Johnson said, looking at his wife, Jamie.

The same had to be said for Jason Holiday, a 10-year veteran of the Mount Olive Police Department who graduated Saturday with an associate degree in general studies.

Holiday will be returning to Mount Olive College in January to pursue an advanced degree in criminal justice, but said he wouldn't be able to achieve his goals of a higher education without the help of his wife.

The couple have a 6-month-old at home and between raising a family and managing the stress of a career in law enforcement, Holiday said that it has "been a tough going with all that and school." He did, however, manage to get all A's he said, almost.

"All except for the class I was taking when we first brought the baby home," Holiday said.

Graduates and their families filed out of the arena and into the quad where two newly graduated young men rang the bell under the Nido and Mariana Qubien gazebo.

They huddled together in small pockets for hugs and kisses, high fives and handshakes.

Many were off to celebrate with big dinners or parties.

For others it was enough just to be finished with everything.

"We're going to go home and put up the Christmas tree," Holiday said.