Lauren Smith Finds Academic, Athletic, and Faith Fulfillment at UMO

Sampson Native Lauren Smith Finds Academic, Athletic, and Faith Fulfillment at UMO

MOUNT OLIVE- Sampson County native Lauren Smith is a senior exercise science major at the University of Mount Olive (UMO). With her sights set on graduating in August, she pauses to reflect on her collegiate success and growing faith.

Smith is the daughter of Jeff and Karen Smith. Jeff is an international salesman at Hogslat Inc., and Karen is the director of quality and performance improvement at Commwell Health. Jeff and Karen always knew their daughter was hardworking, athletic, and focused, so they encouraged her to attend a university that coincided with her needs and values as a student athlete.

Smith enrolled at UMO in the fall of 2011.  A softball player, she was unsure of how she would juggle athletics and academics, but she quickly forgot those worries and immersed herself in the campus community.

“Before college, I obsessed over my grades. As the salutatorian at Midway High School, I had high expectations.  I was nervous to take on the pressures of college-level classes while playing softball. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone,” explained Smith.

Smith soon found those worries unfounded.  She became a part of the UMO Honors program, which fed her need for academic vigor and led to community involvement and international travel experiences.

“The Honors program has helped to shape my college journey,” she said. “The courses have given me a broader range of understanding in multiple content areas. I’ve also been able to volunteer with park clean-ups, participate in a pet food drive, write letters to military officers, and help build a home through Habitat for Humanity – all thanks to the Honors program. I also had the opportunity last May to travel with my Honors class to Greece and Turkey. This experience really helped me understand people and cultures, which has contributed to my sense of open-mindedness.”

On the field, Smith has excelled as a pitcher for the lady Trojans.  Her accolades include having  earned the title of 2nd Team All-Conference Pitcher in 2012, being a three-time Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week, earning the Conference Carolinas Tournament MVP in 2013, and being named as an All-Academic student-athlete for Conference Carolinas in 2014. Smith currently holds the record for most shutouts in one season for the Trojans.

Becoming a UMO athletic standout while still maintaining a 3.84 GPA, it seemed as if Smith had a full plate, yet she felt something was missing.  She found that missing element at the First Baptist Church in Mount Olive (FBCMO).

Smith claims that the Reverend Felicia Fox, the FBCMO associate pastor of students and families, has greatly impacted her faith. With Fox’s encouragement Smith has become an active member of FBCMO attending college Bible studies and services, participating in Oasis outreach, working in the church’s nursery, and helping with community projects. In the near future she plans to get baptized.

“I was baptized when I was a baby, but being baptized now will outwardly show my commitment and decision to follow Christ. I know God has a plan for my life and I plan on following it.”

After graduating from the University of Mount Olive, Smith plans to attend graduate school and one day work at a children’s hospital.

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