Psychology Major Finds Many Opportunities to Get Involved at UMO

Psychology Major Finds Many Opportunities to Get Involved at UMO

MOUNT OLIVE- Gayla Olvera of Lucama, NC knew from the moment she first arrived on the University of Mount Olive (UMO) campus that she had chosen the right place to spend the next four years.


“I chose UMO because it just felt like home,” Olvera said. “All of the faculty and staff were so welcoming and friendly. I loved the small class sizes and that it’s not too far away from home.”


Olvera, a first generation college student and Golden LEAF Scholar, enrolled at UMO in the fall of 2015. Since then, she has made the most of her college experience through her involvement in many different areas.


Olvera is in the UMO Honors Program, Psychology Club, Psi Chi, Sisterhood of Crown and Martlet, and the UMO Concert Choir. She is also involved in campus Bible study and serves as a Resident Assistant, Psychology Research Assistant, Campus Tour Guide, Receptionist, and a Student Ambassador. “I like to stay busy,” Olvera commented.


“All of my experiences have been really amazing,” she shared. “I just really love UMO. I have seen it grow so much, and I know it will continue to prosper.”


Olvera is a psychology major and healthcare management minor. She plans to graduate in May of 2019 and then further her education by attending graduate school for clinical psychology and eventually getting her doctorate.


“I want to go back to my hometown and work in the mental health field. I would like to have my own private practice one day,” she said.


Olvera decided to study psychology after developing an interest for the subject in high school. “I knew I wanted to help people with mental health issues. People always think of their physical health, but mental health is just as important. I want to bring more awareness to the topic and make a real difference.”


Olvera attends Little Rock Original Free Will Baptist Church where she helps with Vacation Bible School and other youth activities. “My faith means a lot to me,” Olvera shared. “I believe God has a plan for each of our lives, and I’m thankful that He has always been faithful, merciful, and loving to me. I am also thankful for my church family for supporting my journey and my dreams.”


Olvera believes that being a Free Will Baptist has greatly impacted her educational journey at UMO. “Without the Free Will Baptist denomination, I would not have been able to have so many opportunities for growth at UMO,” she shared.


Being active in the University has given Olvera many experiences that have taught her valuable lessons. “The most important thing I’ve learned at UMO is to serve others,” she said. “In every club or activity I’m involved with, we always serve others in the community. Not only are we helping people, but we’re also being the hands and feet of Jesus.” Olvera has volunteered with the Make a Difference Food Pantry, helped raise funds for Southeastern Cancer Care, and has helped at STEM fairs.


Olvera is motivated by her family, friends, and future plans. She is grateful for her professors at UMO for all of their help, especially the psychology professors.


“I am thankful for every single opportunity. I can’t express how thankful I am for all of the faculty and staff at UMO. I love my UMO family,” Olvera said.


Olvera has left her mark on UMO, and she has seen UMO transform her life as well. “UMO has taught me to step out of my comfort zone and to not be afraid to take chances, for that I will always be grateful.”


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, in Smithfield at Johnston Community College, and online. For more information, visit