University of Mount Olive Honors Alumni

MOUNT OLIVE- During the University of Mount Olive Alumni Celebration Day, several alumni were recognized for their outstanding personal and professional achievements, as well as their dedication to the UMO Alumni Association.

Alumna Sarah Strickland McLamb of Goldsboro was given the Lorrelle F. Martin and Michael R. Pelt Excellence in Teaching Award.  McLamb graduated from UMO (formerly Mount Olive College) in 2009 and immediately began her career as an English teacher at Rosewood High School.  In 2013 McLamb was recognized as the Rosewood High School Teacher of the Year.  According to the nomination form, McLamb’s passion for her profession is evident to everyone who knows her.  She finds new and creative ways to engage her students.  She loves her students as family and takes a personal interest in their lives.  Her love for learning is contagious.

Alumnus Trent Lassiter of Micro was given the Young Alumnus Achievement Award.  The award was presented to Lassiter for his exceptional business achievements that reflect honor to the University.  Lassiter is an energetic and successful businessman with a passion for the outdoors and an appreciation for live entertainment.   The 2009 graduate of the University of Mount Olive (formerly Mount Olive College) is general manager of Springhill Outfitters, an outdoor retail store that carries hunting and fishing equipment, camping supplies, clothing, and more, located on I-95 at exit 101 in Selma.  Lassiter is also owner of “The Farm.”  “The Farm” is located on over 20 acres of family farm land outside of Selma.  It features over 5,000 square feet of banquet hall area with an indoor stage and is available to rent for business meetings, wedding receptions, banquets, and more.  They have an outdoor stage and venue that will hold over 10,000 people and is home to “The Farm Concert Series” which started this spring.

Gail S. Huffaker of Oxford, NC was named an Honorary Alumna of the University.  The award was presented to Huffaker for her participation and leadership in the Alumni Association Annual Winter Glitz Scholarship fundraising event.  Huffaker has worked tirelessly on the Alumni Winter Glitz event for the past three years, this year serving on the Planning Committee and co-chairing the Stage Decorating Sub-Committee.

Alumna Nancy Yates of Pink Hill was given the Dianne Brown Riley Distinguished Service Award.  The award was presented to Yates for her participation and leadership in activities that promote the advancement of UMO Alumni Association.  Yates graduated from UMO (formerly Mount Olive College) in 1989 with a degree in religion.  She is a retired from Lenoir County Public Schools where she worked for 23 years as an administrative assistant.  She currently serves as a substitute teacher with Wayne County Public Schools.  In serving on the Alumni Board at the University of Mount Olive, Yates has given countless hours, efforts and service to the institution with its mission always close to her heart.

Alumnus Dr. Ken Benton and his wife, Dr. Marilyn Benton, of Goldsboro were given the Tillman Business Award for extraordinary service and support. In 1989, Benton and his wife, Dr. Marilyn Benton, founded Academics Plus Learning Center in Dunn, NC. This edu-business was established to supplement the educational activities of the public schools and private enterprises. In 1990, Academics Plus was incorporated and moved to Goldsboro, NC.  Benton is a 1997 graduate of the University of Mount Olive (formerly Mount Olive College).

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