Arizona Native Finds Home Away from Home at UMO

Arizona Native Finds Home Away from Home at UMO

MOUNT OLIVE- When Arizona native Emily Shaw approached high school graduation, she knew that she wanted to pursue a degree in English and compete in college athletics. She searched for an institution that would merge her educational and athletic pursuits. By chance, the head coach of the University of Mount Olive, a school thousands of miles away from Shaw’s hometown, recruited her and opened her eyes to the perfect opportunity.

“During my senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to attend an institution with strong academics and an English program that offered an individualized approach. I also wanted to compete for a cross-country and track team,” Shaw recalls. “When Coach Matt and Coach Kirby recruited me, I visited the campus and fell in love with the personable atmosphere, the academic opportunities, and the team.”

In the fall of 2012, Shaw began her first semester at UMO and immediately knew she had made the right decision. The beautiful campus felt like home, and she began to excel academically and athletically at UMO.

In the classroom Shaw’s development as a writer was strengthened by the dedicated support from the English professors. She became involved in Sigma Tau Delta, the International Honors Society, and was elected as co-president for the club during her senior year.  Shaw is also an active Honors student and leads the Honors Leadership Council as vice president.

“The Honors program has presented me with so many amazing opportunities,” said Shaw. “The courses introduced me to topics, leadership roles, and volunteer opportunities that have enriched my education. I have also traveled with my Honors class to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France this past spring.. It was a trip of a lifetime!”

On the track, Shaw faced the demands of juggling college academics and athletics, but she persevered. She has contributed to numerous track and field team conference championship wins. Shaw has even gained Conference Carolinas all-conference and all-academic honors despite a long line of season-ending injuries.

“Running and competing at the college level has been demanding, but so rewarding. Although I have faced numerous injuries, I have been supported by a great group of teammates and coaches who have become family to me,” smiled Shaw. “It’s been exciting to see the cross-country and track teams grow throughout my time here, and I am excited to see what the team can accomplish in the future.”

Despite her full schedule of classes, clubs, and practice, Shaw still finds time to work on campus. She has worked as a Supplemental Instructor, a Writing Coach, and as a student intern in the Public Relations Office.

“UMO has opened the doors to so many wonderful opportunities for me. I can’t thank people like Dr. Regina Stone, Dr. Alexis Davis, and Rhonda Jessup enough for offering me the opportunity to develop in a real work setting and giving me valuable experience for the future.”

After graduation in May of 2016, Shaw hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a master’s degree in communication. She’s hopeful that her time at UMO has equipped her with the skills to be successful at the graduate and professional level.

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit