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UMO Washington Student Ambassador Prepares for Graduation


UMO Washington Student Ambassador Prepares for Graduation


WASHINGTON, NC- Adult students return to college for various reasons…because of changing needs in the job market, career advancement opportunities, or family life transitions (marriage, divorce, or death).


This year alone, around 2,250 students at the University of Mount Olive eight locations throughout eastern North Carolina are considered non-traditional adult learners. Those students, with a median age of 31, will not only be seeking a college education, but also balancing full-time jobs and family responsibilities.  Forty-two-year-old Jason Steward of Williamston is a perfect example. 


In 1997, at the age of 21, Steward accepted a job as an entry level Telecommunicator (dispatcher) with NC Highway Patrol in Monroe, NC. It was a job that would become a career with multiple steps up the ladder to career advancement.  In 2006 Steward was promoted to Shift Supervisor with the Highway Patrol Troop A in Williamston and Center Supervisor/Director in 2011.  He was later selected as Martin County’s 911 Director, and in 2013 he was selected as the Associates of Public Safety Communications Officials Communications Director of the Year.


There was only one piece missing in his impressive resume, and that was a college degree.   Steward believed that seated university programs were not available to working adults like him. However, in 2014 he met with an advisor at the University of Mount Olive in Washington and was attracted by the one-night-a-week programs that accommodate his complicated lifestyle.


He enrolled in the criminal justice and criminology bachelor’s degree program. He currently has a 3.7 GPA and serves as a Student Ambassador. As a Student Ambassador he shares his story with other current and potential students, reinforcing that just because students have passed the ‘traditional’ age of going to college, shouldn’t mean they have burnt their bridge to a degree. 


“I want to be a resource for students who may be in the same boat that I was. I am very proud to represent UMO and feel that, in some small way, it gives back to the institution that has given so much to me,” he said.


Steward is expected to graduate in December. Thanks to UMO, he will leave with more experience and a brighter future in his career. He truly believes that his time at UMO and his education have made him more confident and ready for whatever life throws his way.


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

Jason Steward 2:  Jason Steward (fourth from left) at a meeting to work on designing the new 911 center.