Stories of Excellence–Olivia Ocamb

Olivia Ocamb, Mitchell student and creative writing advocate, will soon find herself on a national stage. Ocamb was recently selected from more than 4,000 national submissions to present in front of peers and academics at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, April 11-13, 2019. A rare honor for a community college student, Ocamb knows her experience at Mitchell has not only prepared her to present at the 2019 NCUR, but it has also given her a strong foundation for her future goals. 


Ocamb affectionally calls herself a middle child student–not a traditional high school graduate and not a non-traditional adult learner but “somewhere in the middle.” She first came to Mitchell in the summer of 2017 to obtain her GED after taking time away from her former homeschool classroom. In the Fall 2017 semester, a 20-year-old Ocamb began the Associate of Arts program part-time time student. She had previously worked in retail and food service, but knew she was not suited for a long-term career in either field. The proximity of Mitchell to her home as well as the affordability of courses helped drive her choice to continue her studies.


Beyond convenience, Ocamb found an extensive support network at Mitchell. Her instructors, particularly those in the English department, have become friends and mentors. “It’s the people that make this place special. The academics are great, but it’s the instructors who really make it exceptional.”


Ocamb’s long-term goal is to become a professor at the community college level. “I think that community colleges are great because students have so much more access to their instructors,” she explained. “I think it’s a great place to work with students and interact with them one-on-one to meet their needs.” After completing her associate degree, Ocamb plans to transfer to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to complete her bachelor’s degree focusing in English literature and creative writing. A master’s degree is also in her future, with consideration to go even further.


Ocamb is proud to be on track to meet her goals. She encourages others to take the plunge and continue their studies. “The first step is the hardest,” she admitted, “but just do it. Education makes us better people and teaches us about the world around us and about others. Just do it. You’re not going to regret it.”


As for her upcoming opportunity to present at NCUR, Ocamb admits she is definitely nervous. NCUR allows undergraduate students from all fields of study to share their research via oral presentations, poster boards, visual arts or performing arts. Ocamb will be sharing her literary analysis on D.H. Lawrence's short story "The Rocking-Horse Winner" in oral presentation format. The analysis was originally completed as an assignment in her Spring 2018 Argument-Based Research class at Mitchell. NCUR noted Ocamb’s abstract “demonstrates a unique contribution to [her] field of study.” Ocamb humbly says she shares this honor with Mitchell.  “I am really grateful for the opportunity to present and for Mitchell being so supportive,” Ocamb noted. “All of my English instructors have pushed me to write and to be brave. I am really grateful there were people put in my path to push me to this point. I wouldn’t be here without the people at Mitchell. So really, I might be the one presenting, but they’re all going to be there with me.”