UMO Students Show Academic Ability and Heroism at Atlanta Conference

UMO Students Show Academic Ability and Heroism at Atlanta Conference

MOUNT OLIVE-Peter Hughes of Beulaville and John Ryan of Mount Olive recently presented a research project at the Southern Sociological Conference in Atlanta, GA.  Dr. Glenn Coffey, the division chair of criminal justice and criminology (CJC) and sociology, accompanied the two students and was amazed by both the academic excellence and the heroism of the students.

Hughes and Ryan presented their research entitled “Connecting the Dots: College Students’ Perceptions of American Political Issues from a Sociological Perspective.” The research grew out of a class project in Coffey’s sociological perspectives on American politics course in the fall of 2015. Impressed by the quality of the work, Coffey encouraged the students to present their findings at the conference.

“The conference was a beneficial experience for my education,” noted Ryan, a December 2015 CJC and psychology graduate. “This opportunity allowed me to participate in the research process, and I was able to observe and interact with other researchers, students, and professors in an academic setting.”

Hughes, a junior CJC major, added, “The conference enlightened me on the experience of graduate studies and the work that goes into research. The research also made me realize where college students stand on pertinent political topics.”

Following a day full of presentations, Coffey, Hughes, and Ryan celebrated their success at dinner. Afterwards, they were walking out of the restaurant and heard a violent car crash.

“The students’ presentation was commendable in and of itself, but more impressive is what happened after dinner,” explained Coffey. “Countless people from the nearby establishments surrounded the scene of the crash and all appeared to stand in a state of confusion. As John and I surveyed the area, we noticed Peter was missing. We looked around and realized Peter had reacted by prying the car door open and helping the victim until the ambulance arrived.”

Hughes explained the situation, “I extracted the crash victim from the car. I then assessed his injuries and retrieved some napkins from the restaurant, which I folded and used as a temporary bandage for his wounds. I was a former Boy Scout and attained rank of Eagle, so I think my time and training gave me the knowledge of what to do in the crash situation.”

Hughes, Ryan, and Coffey not only represented the University of Mount Olive well academically at the conference, by Hughes also represented the institution’s covenant well as he displayed incredible courage in helping the victim of a car crash.

“While I knew Peter was special, I couldn’t help but be awestruck by this young man’s response and concern for his fellow man.  The UMO community should be proud to have him as one of our own,” concluded Coffey.

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

Peter Hughes

John Ryan