UMO at SJAFB Makes College Possible for Service Members

UMO at SJAFB Makes College Possible for Service Members

GOLDSBORO-A host of educational benefits are available to those who have served in the United States armed forces, but figuring out which program a service member is eligible for can sometimes be a challenge. When Nicholas Patek of Metamora, Ohio took early retirement from the United States Airforce in 2014, he began to search for a college that could meet his educational needs.  He was looking for an institution with flexible scheduling, online course offerings, and one that would accept the most transfer credits. The field was wide open, but the one institution that stood out was the University of Mount Olive located on Seymour Johnson Airforce Base.

“I chose UMO for several reasons chief among those was its offering one-night-a-week degree programs and having online choices,” Patek said.  “The University also has military friendly faculty, many of whom have served their country in the armed forces.  They understand all the variables involved when a service member decides to return to the classroom, and they have support counselors available to assist with the process.”

Patek is set to graduate from UMO next month with a bachelor’s degree in management of information systems.  It is a degree that will work well with his military experience and his current job at CREE in Durham, a manufacturer of LED lights, where Patek works in the IT Department.

“UMO has been a good fit for me,” he said.  “I earned my associate’s degree through the Air Force and UMO accepted many of my transfer credits.  I was basically half-way done when I started.”

Patek, a father of two daughters, Camryn-16 and Caleigh -13, has utilized his VA benefits to help to offset the cost of attending college.

Since 1975 UMO at Seymour Johnson Air Force base has been serving the educational needs of military and non-military students in Goldsboro.  Nearly 90 percent of the students at UMO at SJAFB are military or military family members. Dr. Paul Rutter, Director of UMO at SJAFB noted that every UMO location has a Veteran Affairs Representative on staff to help service members make the most of their benefits and their education.

“Our classes are designed around active duty military and veterans with their schedules in mind,” said Rutter.   “For example if a student needs to do a temporary duty assignment away from SJAFB, it is no problem.  Seated classes can be shifted to online classes, and in some cases, professors will work individually with a student who is deployed. A second example is our ability to give CLEP and DANTES exams for credit on base.”

UMO President Dr. Philip P. Kerstetter added, “Military students bring a high degree of maturity, considerable life experience, a rich understanding of diversity, and extensive leadership skills to the classroom. Our other students, as well as our faculty and staff, benefit from the different perspectives that service members and veterans bring with them.”

Patek is looking forward to receiving his diploma on August 27.  He plans to celebrate the milestone with family and friends.

“My diploma will be a symbol of me fulfilling a lifetime goal,” he said.  “I started saying that I was going to get my degree when I was in the military.  However, life happens.  I got married and had children.  I put off obtaining my education.  Then, because of the course structure with UMO, I was finally able to achieve my lifetime goal of earning my degree. I could not be happier.”

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