Golden LEAF Luncheon Highlights Scholarship Recipients

Golden LEAF Luncheon Highlights Scholarship Recipients

November 2, 2023
Contact:  Rhonda Jessup, Director of Public Relations

MOUNT OLIVE – At its core, the Golden LEAF Scholarship program is an investment in students and the communities in which they live and intend to work.  Since its inception in 1999, the Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded more than $60 million in scholarship funding to more than 29,000 students. This year alone, 215 students were selected from a candidate pool of more than 1,700 applicants.  Of those 215 scholars, 14 are students at the University of Mount Olive.

A recent luncheon was held to recognize the UMO Golden LEAF Scholars and give them an opportunity to express their appreciation to the organization that is making their educational dreams a reality. Future pilots, veterinarians, teachers, nurses, farmers, environmental researchers, and others filled the room.

Katelyn Gregory, a Christian studies major from Mount Olive, addressed the group.   “Thank you Golden LEAF for your generosity, for this scholarship, the internship, and for pouring into my life.  I could never fully express my gratitude for allowing me to pursue the path that God has set me on!”

Not only is Gregory a Golden LEAF Scholarship recipient, she applied and was accepted into their summer internship program.  Through that experience, she was able to narrow down her future career path.  “I would love to continue my education, and eventually return to UMO as a religion professor,” she said. “I want to be in the position to pour into students the way my professors have poured into me.”

Macy Parkhurst, a junior accounting major from Pikeville, said, “Without the support of my community and the Golden LEAF Scholarship funds, I would have never had the opportunity to chase my dreams and aspirations.”  Parkhurst plans to use her accounting degree to pursue her CPA and to eventually receive her MBA and juris doctorate. “My ultimate goal is to practice law,” she said. “I look forward to giving back to the community that helped to mold me into the person that I am today.”

“My father is a carpenter, and my mom is a teacher,” said Danielle Tew, an ag business major from Godwin, NC.  “Without the Golden LEAF Scholarship, I would not have had the opportunity to attend UMO to pursue my passion for agriculture and make my parents proud.”

UMO President H. Edward Croom thanked Golden LEAF President and Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton for the continued financial support provided to UMO students and programs. “We are so grateful to Golden LEAF for their long-standing partnership with the University of Mount Olive,” said Croom.  “Their support helps rural communities and people grow and prosper.  We look forward to many more years of collaboration and commitment to serve eastern North Carolina.”

It was noted that since 2011, 58 UMO students have been awarded life-changing scholarship opportunities through the Golden LEAF Foundation.  It was also noted that in the past six years, the Foundation has supported $900,000 in funds to the University for projects such as infrastructure development and support at Shady Grove Educational Livestock Facility, the Nursing Simulation Laboratory, and the construction of a classroom at Kornegay Student Farm.

 “We are pleased to support the programs and students at UMO,” said Hamilton.  “Golden LEAF’s mission is to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities. The Foundation funds the scholarship program to provide the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills to be successful in the workplace and as leaders. Our hope is once our scholars complete their education, they will return home to live, work, and lead in their rural communities.

For more information on the Golden LEAF Scholarship program, visit

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University was founded by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit

Fourth from left, Jayvian O’Neal of Selma talks with UMO President H. Edward Croom, fifth from left, about his academic studies.

Katelyn Gregory, a Christian studies major from Mount Olive, shakes hands with President and Chief Executive Officer of Golden LEAF Scott T. Hamilton.

Ashleigh Smith, an animal science major from Pink Hill, shakes hands with President and Chief Executive Officer of Golden LEAF Scott T. Hamilton.

Pictured (L-R) Back Row: Macy Parkhurst, an accounting major from Pikeville, NC; Hannah Hoyle, a vet bio-science major from Grover, NC; Riley Howard, a pre-nursing major from Goldsboro, NC; Ashleigh Smith, an animal science major from Pink Hill, NC; Caroline Jones, a vet bio-science major from Mount Olive, NC; President and Chief Executive Officer of Golden LEAF Scott T. Hamilton; Mark Anderson, a business administration-aviation major from Ashville, NC; Wyatt Raynor, a natural resources major from Clinton, NC; Golden LEAF Director of Programs Marilyn Chism; and Jayvian O’Neal, an exercise science major from Selma, NC. Front Row: Katelyn Gregory, a Christian studies major from Mount Olive, NC; Kaitlyn Ward, an environmental science major from Belvidere, NC; Kaleb Buckingham, a plant science major from Elizabeth City, NC; Evelyn Trejo, a psychology major from Goldsboro, NC; and Danielle Tew, an ag-business major from Godwin, NC.