A Family Style College Experience

A Family Style College Experience

GOLDSBORO- The University of Mount Olive is often praised for its family atmosphere. With caring faculty and defining Christian values, a sense of family is prevalent throughout all aspects of the institution.  One family from Goldsboro can attest to the family friendly values at UMO.  Michelle Tucker and Cliff Farr attend UMO with two of their sons, Dallas and James.


Michelle, a senior criminal justice and psychology major from Richmond, Virginia, was the first of her family to apply to UMO. After serving 14 years of active duty in the Air Force and mothering six children, Michelle decided to return to college to complete her degree.


Prior to UMO, Michelle earned an associate’s degree in police science from the Community College of the Air Force and decided to give UMO a try after hearing about the flexibility of their programs and the institution’s core Christian values.


“In 2001, I started out at the UMO Seymour Johnson Air Force Base location. I enjoyed the Christian environment and the professors so much that eventually I decided on double majoring in criminal justice and psychology,” said Michelle.


As Michelle’s educational transformation was unfolding, she was also influencing her family to make the same choice for higher education. “I fell in love with UMO and I encouraged my family to do the same,” she said. “I enjoy being able share the college experience with my family. It’s definitely a more involved process when everyone attends the same school!”


Clifton, Michelle’s husband, is also seeking a degree in criminal justice. Clifton retired from the Air Force in 2013 after 26 years of active duty in Security Forces and decided to apply to UMO. As Michelle and Clifton work together to gain their degrees, the couple often finds themselves in the same classrooms, which makes the experience more enjoyable according to Clifton.


Michelle and Clifton’s sons, Dallas and James, agree that UMO has brought their family closer together. Dallas is a freshman and is pursuing a business degree, while James is a sophomore pursing a criminology degree with a minor in photography. Both sons take classes online and on base.


“UMO gives us the opportunity to work toward our educational goals as a family,” said Dallas.


James noted, “Mainly I was drawn to UMO by my mother, as well as the positive way she spoke about her classes and the Christian atmosphere. It was the right choice, because UMO introduced us to a very friendly learning environment, and I can always count on my family being there for me.”


With two sons attending the same University, Michelle and Clifton could easily evolve into “helicopter” parents, but Michelle tries to treat school as an opportunity for growth for the family.


“Cliff and I provide guidance for our sons, however we realize that they must be able to face the challenge and growth of college on their own as adults,” noted Michelle.


The family is happy that they have been able to enjoy the college journey with the people closest to them. Michelle and Clifton hope to encourage more of their children to make the same educational decision and fall in love with UMO as they did.


After spending the past 13 years juggling class, family, and work, Michelle is all set to graduate this December. As for the rest of the family, Clifton is anticipated to graduate in the spring of 2016, James in 2017, and Dallas in 2018.


Away from school, the family spends time together at home, in church, and in volunteer work. They also attend Freedom Baptist Church together every Sunday. Michelle works for the O’Berry Center Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of persons with developmental disabilities, and the entire family actively supports the Foundation by volunteering their time for events.


Looking back at their educational journey, Michelle and Clifton noted that they have been transformed not only as individuals, but also as a family through the help of UMO.


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 old.umo.edu.