By John Joyce
Published in News on May 4, 2014 1:50 AM
Talita Rocha hugs Angel Dache during the school's 60th spring commencement -- the first since it gained university status -- inside Kornegay Arena. More than 300 students earned their degrees and were awarded them during the ceremony.
Congressman G.K. Butterfield speaks during the University of Mount Olive graduation Saturday afternoon. Butterfield told the graduates that they could be anything they dream to be -- with the right work ethic and support.
Bryan Darden, right, from Goldsboro and Wayne Taylor stand as part of the university's salute to service members. Darden is in the Army, and Taylor is a Marine.
The University of Mount Olive, formerly Mount Olive College, graduated its first class under its new name during the institute of higher learning's 60th Spring Commencement in the George and Annie Dail Kornegay Arena Saturday.
More than 300 degrees were bestowed upon graduates from all seven of the universities campuses, but not before U.S. Congressman G.K. Butterfield charged the men and women with taking their own futures in their hands.
"Being responsible means being in charge of the choices you make in your life," he said. "Be responsible."
Butterfield closed his remarks by saying that while a basketball in his hands might only be worth $30, that same ball in Kobe Bryant's hand is worth $30 million.
He went up the scale in value with different athletes and their respective instruments until arriving, after Moses, to God and said, "two fish and five loaves of bread in my hands makes a fish sandwich, but two fish and five loaves of bread in God's hands will feed thousands."
University President Dr. Philip P. Kerstetter then conferred the degrees and the graduates graced the stage -- taking their diplomas, and their futures, in their hands.
Mikayla Glynn Braswell, of Faison, claimed the honor of the University of Mount Olive 2014 Martin Award, named after the late Lorelle F. Martin.
Ms. Braswell, a psychology major, took home the top academic award after completing four years of full-term course work and achieving the highest average.
Kevin Jones, meanwhile, graduated with a bachelor's in science in management and organizational development, Summa Cum Laude.
Jones, of Goldsboro, works in the field of radiation therapy at Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern.
He said the degree recently became a licensing requirement for his job, but added that it will also allow him more mobility in his career.
His family, including his 12-year-old son, Patrick Jones, and his father-in-law, Jim Lovette, were mobilizing for dinner.
"We're headed to Goldsboro, William Street. A little place called Illiano's," Jones said.
Also heading to dinner following the commencement were the Campbells.
Gale Campbell, a corporal with the Durham Police Department's Internal Affairs Division, received her degree in criminal justice Saturday.
Her husband, Kurt Campbell, along with their son, Aaron, and his family, danced in and out of photos with one another, sharing in Mrs. Campbell's joy.
"The celebration began a long time ago. It began after the last day of classes," she said.
The 20-year law enforcement veteran said she plans to go on to obtain her master's in psychology and to work as a counselor after retiring from the force.
"I want to go into counseling with a concentration in working with law enforcement officers. Officers are involved in shootings and other stressful situations. They need someone who understands their perspectives and viewpoints," she said.