Nicole Karas Scores Big in UMO Academics and Athletics

Nicole Karas Scores Big in UMO Academics and Athletics

MOUNT OLIVE- University of Mount Olive (UMO) senior Nicole Karas explains her college journey as nothing short of incredible. This student-athlete will be missed around campus, and on the volleyball and tennis courts. Graduating a semester early with honors, Karas’ future looks bright.

Originally from Fort Morgan, CO, Karas grew up in a family who supported her academic and athletic endeavors.  Throughout high school, Karas played volleyball, tennis, basketball, and rode horses, all the while keeping her studies and her grades in check. As high school graduation approached, Karas was introduced to the University of Mount Olive.

Karas recalled, “Coach Sarah Lusk contacted me about playing volleyball as a setter at UMO.  After visiting, I really liked the family oriented atmosphere of UMO, and decided it was the place for me!”

Karas began her journey at UMO in the fall of 2012 as a mathematics education major. Along the way, she tweaked her educational course to major in mathematics and minor in business marketing.

“One particular professor that has greatly influenced my education is Dr. Brenda Cates,” Karas shared. “She has always encouraged me in whatever direction I want to take with my mathematics career.”

In the classroom Karas has been awarded with all-academic honors and has made the dean’s list numerous times. This past summer, she took her education a step further by interning with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Charleston as a business management intern. She learned how to work in a business setting and received hands-on experience with sales and marketing.

“The experience has prepared me to be effective within the real world, and I have learned to network and manage time appropriately,” she said.

Karas has also made great strides outside the classroom. She has been a starter for the women’s Trojan volleyball and tennis teams and received all-tournament awards.  However, during last year’s volleyball season, Karas faced a serious knee injury that jeopardized her future in college athletics.

“I was forced to undergo surgery in October of 2014 with a nine month recovery,” she said.  “I was devastated.  I had to start all over. Not just to get back to volleyball, but first just to get back to walking. With a great support system which included my family back home, my teammates, my boyfriend, the UMO staff, and athletic trainer Kristen Gibson, I became more hopeful for my future.”

Although the injury kept Karas benched during her junior year, she is excited to finally be back in the game. And, she is looking forward to her graduation in December with plans to continue her education by pursuing an MBA degree and hopefully one day coaching at the collegiate level.

“UMO allowed me to take the first step of growing up on my own and gave me an unmatched opportunity to succeed in academics and athletics. The amount of fun, loving, and caring people I’ve met here have made my educational experience an amazing one,” concluded Karas.

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