Future Park Ranger Reflects on the UMO Experience

Future Park Ranger Reflects on the UMO Experience

MOUNT OLIVE— University of Mount Olive (UMO) senior Joshua Mills of Fayetteville, NC, is expected to graduate on August 26 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation and leisure studies (RLS) and a minor in criminal justice.  With a solid education and work experience in his field, he is looking forward to a promising career.

Mills graduated from Cape Fear High School in 2012 with plans to continue his education and become a law enforcement officer.  Like many young college students, Mills discovered his first area of interest was not his true passion.

“I changed career paths because I love the outdoors, and I love helping others,” said Mills.

Interested in becoming a park ranger, Mills landed a seasonal position at Jones Lake State Park in May of 2013 as a park attendant.  This experience further solidified his career goals.  Mills then began to seek a college where he could make his dream into a reality.

“My parents and I toured the UMO campus in the fall of 2013.  I fell in love with the atmosphere and size of the school,” said Mills.

As an RLS major, Mills has planned recreational events, conducted interviews, planned programs, developed speeches, and volunteered with 5k runs and Special Olympics.

“These opportunities have allowed me to meet people and gain new friendships, while honing my skills in RLS,” Mills said.

As part of his degree requirement, Mills completed a 12-week, 480-hour professional experience.  He did this by continuing his internship at Jones Lake State Park.  His duties included a variety of activities centered on resource management and creating educational environmental programs.

“At my internship, I have learned to operate heavy equipment and gained experience with wood working, building piers, plumbing, and carpentry.”

“My time at Jones Lake had been excellent.  Everyday is a new learning experience!  My internship has combined my love of outdoors, helping others, and learning into an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” said Mills.

After graduation, Mills wants to work as a North Carolina parks park ranger.  He is also considering joining the Air Force Reserves.

“My life has been transformed with the education I have received from UMO,” explained Mills, “My professors and my internship experiences have prepared me for life after graduation.”

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 old.umo.edu.