Johnston County Friends and Coworkers to Earn Degrees on December 13

Johnston County Friends and Coworkers to Earn Degrees on December 13


SMITHFIELD– On December 13, friends, co-workers and classmates, Theresa Massengill and Jennifer Meilinger, will receive their hard earned diplomas from the University of Mount Olive (UMO).  The pair will receive their bachelor’s degrees in business management, having attended the UMO at Johnston Community College (JCC) location.


Together Massengill and Meilinger have nearly four decades of combined work experience at Caterpillar Inc. in Clayton.  Meilinger began her career at the organization in 1992 and Massengill in 1997, two years after graduating from high school.


Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. The company offers a tuition assistance program, which helped the friends make the decision to apply to UMO and continue their education.


Massengill, a Johnston County resident, was the first of the two friends to return to college. Prior to UMO, Massengill received an associate’s degree in business administration and operations management from Johnston Community College. At Caterpillar she has been promoted within the company and has worked numerous positions, including paint shop technician, small wheel loader assembly line, work in progress coordinator, operations team lead, order analyst and currently section manager.


“I decided it was time to enhance my career opportunities with a bachelor’s degree,” said Massengill. “So I enrolled at UMO in the summer of 2012. The diversity of the required courses has provided me with knowledge of what it takes for a business to operate efficiently.  The courses are helpful as I am a front line manufacturing supervisor in a team environment, and the courses teach about such team operations.”


Returning to college has been a daunting task for Massengill as she as juggled a full time job, college courses, and family life.  Her motivation behind it all is her ten-year-old daughter, Sydney. Massengill hopes to prove to her daughter that a college education, along with hard work, will earn you the career of your choice.


Meilinger, a Clayton resident, also maintains a busy schedule with work, school, and caring for a large family with eight children, ranging in age from 28 to 19. She attended JCC and NC Wesleyan prior to enrolling at the University of Mount Olive in February of 2013.


“At Caterpillar, I started as a technician on the production line,” Meilinger said. “Then I took the promotions of working in quality, product support, and I am now a supplier quality engineer.  The courses at UMO have given me insight that is applicable in my daily work at Caterpillar. Understanding how all these aspects of the business come together has been very enlightening.”


The two friends are excited to receive their degrees and to hopefully continue to move up in leadership positions at work. Meilinger and Massengill agree that the UMO module style learning experience made it possible to complete a degree with their busy work schedules and lifestyles.


“It is a lot of work, but it can be done,” said Meilinger. “For us, it was about finishing what we started.  It has been a rewarding experience.”


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