Faith and Determination help ECE Student Achieve Her Dreams

Faith and Determination help ECE Student Achieve Her Dreams

FAYETTEVILLE- University of Mount Olive (UMO) student Rhonda Ray has spent over a decade shaping the minds of young children as a childcare provider. Now, she is finally taking the next step to reach her goals by returning to school to receive a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

Ray opened up her own in-home childcare center, Abundantly Love Child Care, in 2003 while obtaining an associate degree in early childhood education. Years later, she realized that she needed to further her education to be the best she could be for the children under her instruction.

“I decided to return to college to improve my skills relating to my field,” Ray said. “I understood that continuing my education would assist me with providing a solid foundation for my students.” Ray enrolled at UMO in the fall of 2017, taking classes at the Partnership for Children’s Family Resource Center at 351 Wagoner Drive in Fayetteville

One of the biggest challenges for Ray in returning to the classroom was getting used to a new routine.  “Juggling work, home life, and school has been an adjustment for sure,” she shared. “However, I feel that I am managing the multiple roles well. I feel that every minute is worth it. I have developed my time management skills to ensure I’m able to do my best in each role.”

Ray is passionate about being an educator and being able to care for young children. “I feel that I have definitely found God’s purpose for my life,” she shared.  “It brings me joy to develop relationships with the children in my care. I enjoy witnessing their developmental and educational growth, and I maintain relationships with my students even after they leave my care.”

One of the things that attracted Ray to UMO was its Christian focus.  She implements Bible study, as well as worship and praise music into her own daily lesson plans with the children.  “God is my solid foundation and I need Him in everything.  I have been so blessed that He has planted me in the lives of these children, even for a short while.  To get to see those seeds grow into wonderful young people is an amazing opportunity that I thank God for every day.”

UMO has allowed Ray to realize her full potential while she helps her students realize theirs. “Because of UMO, I have more knowledge in my profession,” she said.  “My life has been transformed by having the support and encouragement from my professors. UMO has allowed me to not only improve my skills in the educational setting, but also in my everyday life.”

Ray now feels more confident to provide the best care for her students. She believes that anyone can pursue their dreams at any age. “You are never too old to further your education,” Ray said. “You can do it, and with God, all things are possible.”

Ray is set to graduate in December of 2019. Her future plans include opening an additional childcare center.  Ray resides in Raeford, NC with her husband, Reginald.

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, in Smithfield at Johnston Community College, and online.  For more information, visit