Aspiring English Teacher Finds Academic Fulfillment at UMO

Aspiring English Teacher Finds Academic Fulfillment at UMO

MOUNT OLIVE-  Growing up, Jessica Kennedy of Youngsville always knew she wanted to become a teacher. She had a knack for helping other students and spreading her love for literature and composition, which led her to enroll in the Education Department at the University of Mount Olive. In May, Kennedy will achieve a degree in English education and turn her dreams into reality.

Kennedy graduated from Franklinton High School in 2012 and then continued her educational journey at a university a few hours away from her family. During her first semester, she felt homesick. She decided to head home to Youngsville and look for another school to continue her college education. Kennedy then toured the University of Mount Olive.

“I went on a tour and fell in love with the UMO campus,” said Kennedy. “Mount Olive is also close to my hometown, so that meant it would allow me to be closer to my family.”

In August 2013, Kennedy began her first semester at UMO and was inspired by the English education curriculum.

“The professors at UMO have been instrumental in my academic journey,” smiled Kennedy. “In particular, Dr. Byars-Nichols has had one of the greatest influences on me as an English student. Anytime that I have a question, need advice, or just need someone to flush ideas out with, she is there to help. Dr. Stone-Hernandez also helps me a lot because she always pushes me to be a strong and encouraging educator.”

On campus Kennedy represents the Student Government Association as secretary and Sigma Tau Delta as co-president. She works in the Writing Center, the Academic Resource Center, and has previously worked as a Resident Assistant.

“At UMO I have been given many opportunities to work and gain experience while going to school. By working in the Writing Center and the Academic Resource Center, I now understand some of the time commitments, work requirements, and standards that I am going to be held to once I graduate,” she explained.

Kennedy has even been accepted to present at numerous academic conferences, including the SWCA Southern Conference, the Pop Culture Southern Association Conference, and the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention.

Now in her final semester at UMO, Kennedy is completing her student teaching internship at Southern Wayne High School. “Student teaching is exciting, but it is a lot of work. I come home tired every single day, but I really love getting to teach! Being able to try out all of the ideas and lessons has been really exciting,” revealed Kennedy.

As she prepares for graduation in May, Kennedy hopes that she can land a job in Wayne or Wake County with the skills that she has acquired at UMO.

“The atmosphere and professional opportunities of UMO have made me more confident in myself and have prepared me to do what I’ve always wanted to do. UMO has taught me a lot and I am thankful for my experiences here with the students, faculty, and staff!”

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