08/24/14 — University of Mount Olive tassels turned

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University of Mount Olive tassels turned

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on August 24, 2014 1:50 AM

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Cynthia Gaskins, left, and Shari Daniels celebrate with their classmates after turning their tassels during commencement at the University of Mount Olive on Saturday.

MOUNT OLIVE -- Shouts of joy pierced the air Saturday afternoon as students' families and friends cheered on University of Mount Olive's most recent batch of alumni.

This round of graduates were part of Mount Olive's 61st commencement -- the second of three ceremonies planned for 2014. The next one will be in mid-December.

Overseeing the ceremony was the president of the university, Dr. Philip Kerstetter.

Sarah Merritt, executive director of the Arts Council of Wayne County, delivered the commencement address to the class of 167 students. She listed 11 things graduates must remember as they make their way into the world after college, saving the best for last.

"Finally, No. 11, which is the most important one," she said. "Don't forget to step back, disconnect from the world and recharge your batteries."

She said in doing so, a person is able to remain revitalized and fresh for any challenge the world will throw at him or her.

The graduates were adorned in cords and stolls, each representing various honors related to grades, majors or organizations.

It took the buildings and grounds crew only one day to set up Kornegay Arena for the Class of 2014's special day. The commencement decorations all will be gone today, much like the graduates themselves.

Career trajectories can be volatile, Mrs. Merritt reminded the students. She said she has held many different occupations in her life before finding the job that allowed her to do what she loves for a living. Her message to the new grads: Don't let the world discourage you.

But the mood of those who turned their tassels Saturday was anything but discouraged.

Shari Daniels was already talking about going for her next degree after receiving a bachelor's degree in nursing only moments before.

"I wanted to advance my nursing career," said Mrs. Daniels, 48. "This represents a stepping stone, a milestone. I'm thinking I'll go ahead and push for another (degree)."

She said she has worked in the nursing industry since 2000, and believes her new degree will give her an edge.

Mrs. Daniels' mother -- just like all the other parents, wives, husbands and families who gathered in the arena that day -- was bursting with pride. It did not matter that this was her first time ever coming to Mount Olive.

"I couldn't ask for anything better," said Bertha Pender, 77. "It's wonderful."