Freshmen Light the Candle of Learning at University of Mount Olive Convocation

MOUNT OLIVE – University of Mount Olive held its opening Convocation Ceremony to welcome the Class of 2016 on Saturday evening August 11.  Mount Olive Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. warmly greeted the freshman class, assuring the newest students of University of Mount Olive that they were an exceptional part of the town. “Today is a rare, special occasion for each one of you—one that you will remember forever. It is an honor for me to be surrounded by so many special people, especially young people, and to be blessed in the fellowship of this special occasion.”

Dr. David Dommer, assistant professor of biology, welcomed the new student body on behalf of the faculty. “The faculty and administration of this College have a singular mission, and our singular mission is all of you. Our measure of success is your success. Our measure of accomplishment is your accomplishment. What we are here to do is to help you.” Mariana Gattegno, a senior biology major with a minor in chemistry, brought greetings from the entire student body. “I just really want to encourage you to get involved and to make new friends. Step out of the small group you’re in. Everyone here is so friendly, including all of your peer mentors and your resident assistants.”

Free Spirit, a contemporary Christian group made up of University of Mount Olive students, gave a small performance, before Dr. Philip P. Kerstetter, president, gave the Convocation address.  “This is the beginning of yet another academic year in the history of University of Mount Olive. For new faculty, staff and students, this will be your beginning at Mount Olive. It will be your chance to commit yourself to achieving the most from this incredible opportunity. For returning staff and students and faculty, this too will be another opportunity to both rededicate and recommit yourselves to achieving the ideals of your profession and for fulfilling the mission of University of Mount Olive. Therefore, it is an exciting time for each and every one of us.”

The Convocation was followed by a candle lighting ceremony at the Alumni Crosswalk. “To the newest members of our College family, the lighting of the candles represents the light of learning, the sharing of our Christian values, and the need for us to be living by our College Covenant,” Kerstetter said. “It also represents your connection with your fellow students, both past and present, and our connection to you.”

Following the lighting of the candles, those in attendance sang the University of Mount Olive Alma Mater.

Kerstetter told students he wanted them to remember the evening because it marks the beginning of their time at University of Mount Olive.  “Four years from now, you will march in your academic robes to your graduation through the Alumni Crosswalk.  In this fashion, your education journey at University of Mount Olive begins here, and will end here.”

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