Penderlea Student Finds Fulfillment at UMO at Wilmington

Penderlea Student Finds Fulfillment at UMO at Wilmington

WILMINGTON- For Penderlea resident Richard Holland, the journey towards a college degree has been an extraordinary one. Although he attended many colleges and pursued various career paths, Holland ultimately found the perfect fit for his academic and personal life with the University of Mount Olive at Wilmington.

Prior to returning to school, Holland worked as a truck driver and later became self-employed as a contract grower for a major swine production company. His work influenced him to return to school and receive a degree that would strengthen his company and his skills as an employer.

“My journey towards my college degree began in 2004 when I enrolled at James Sprunt Community College,” Holland recalled. “My initial intention was to obtain a two-year associates degree in business.  Two of my professors greatly contributed to my decision to pursue a four year degree and continue my education.”

Holland was drawn to the modular programming style of classes at UMO and enrolled. He completed two courses.  He then decided to pursue obtaining his private pilot’s license.

After he spent some time living out his dreams, Holland once again returned to the classroom. He enrolled at UMO at Wilmington in the fall of 2013 with his sights set on a degree in business management.

Holland soon found out that UMO would transform him not only in the classroom, but in his personal life as well.

“I was adopted when I was 2 years old, and I have the greatest parents and family anyone could ever hope for in life.  However, when I enrolled at UMO, Dr. David Bourgeois assigned us to write our autobiography,” explained Holland. “This assignment inspired me to locate my birth family. I knew that my birth father passed away when I was only a year old, but I was able to locate my grandmother as well as three of my aunts in 2014. It has been wonderful to get to know them. I don’t know if I ever would have eventually met my birth family or not, but God used the situation at UMO for me to find them.”

In the classroom, Holland was able to easily juggle his self-employment with his course work. He has learned countless lessons that he is excited to extend into his work and future.

“My experiences at UMO have taught me many things that I will carry with me,” smiled Holland. “Two things in particular stick out.  Dr. Deborah Houston taught me the importance of regular personal assessments and goal setting.  Also, Dr. Doug Ward taught me to never be afraid to stretch yourself in a career.”

At age 50, Holland is excited to walk across the stage in August and receive the degree that signifies so much in his personal and academic journey.

Holland is a member of Redemption Fellowship Church in Wallace and he resides in Penderlea with his wife, Diana, and son, Matthew.

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