By Rhonda Jessup, Director of Public Relations at the University of Mount Olive
Brendan Hooker of Garner had a rocky start in life. A child of divorce, he struggled with his identity, family connections, and friend choices.
“I considered myself to have been a rather difficult person to get along with until I found religion near the end of high school,” he admits. “Mental health issues and a general feeling of being unwanted made me act out in ways I’m not proud of.”
Once Hooker found Jesus Christ, he said, “I began to improve myself on moral grounds, as well as tackle the internal struggles that were negatively influencing my well-being.”
Hooker became a kinder and more outgoing person. Rather than avoiding him, people began to gravitate toward Hooker. “I was finally able to accept myself, and I became comfortable associating with others,” he said. “I began to form positive relationships that opened up fantastic opportunities to me.”
One of those opportunities came about during his studies at the University of Mount Olive (UMO), where Hooker was a student from the fall of 2018 until the spring of 2022. Majoring in English and minoring in psychology, Hooker accepted an internship during the spring of his senior year with the History Department at Wayne County Public Library. “One of my English professors, Dr. Alexis Poe-Davis, actually recommended the position to me,” he said.
During the six-week internship, Hooker’s responsibilities included attending lectures, helping teach classes on genealogy resources, and assisting other librarians. His favorite part of the job was writing for the library’s monthly newsletter, “The Big Ditch.” “I was really able to put my writing skills to work,” he said.
Hooker enjoyed the experience so much that, at the close of the internship, he applied for and accepted a position as a Digital Navigator. Since then, he has been promoted to Library Assistant/Public Relations Coordinator, effective August 1. In this new role, he will soon relocate to the Mount Olive branch of the Wayne County library system.
“My internship helped me to realize that libraries have so many great resources to offer in addition to books,” Hooker said. “My ultimate take-away is that you should take an opportunity when it is presented to you.”
Hooker plans to seek his librarian certification as he continues his passion of public service within Wayne County Government. He currently resides in Warsaw, NC.
“I am so grateful for the life-long bonds I formed while at UMO,” he said. “The quality of education that I received from my professors will help me achieve anything I set my mind to accomplishing.”
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.