Former US Marine Completes Educational Goal at UMO

Former US Marine Completes Educational Goal at UMO

JACKSONVILLE- Gabriel Duerk had both a degree and a military career before she decided to continue her education at the University of Mount Olive (UMO).

Originally from Sarasota, Florida, Duerk attended State College of Florida and received an associate’s degree in General Studies. She wanted to work in the medical field, but was unsure of the capacity after interning at two different pediatric offices. In 2015, Duerk joined the US Marine Corps serving as a financial manager at Cherry Point Air Station. Her military career was cut short due to medical conditions.  However, it was in the military that Duerk decided on the path for her future.

“While in the military, I found that I enjoyed management positions, so I decided to focus my future on the healthcare management field. My ultimate goal is to focus on patient advocacy by creating policies and procedure for optimum health for patients,” Duerk said.

She enrolled at UMO’s Jacksonville campus in May of 2017, seeking a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management. Currently, Gabriel works at Carolinas Center for Surgery as an administrative professional, a position she achieved after completing an internship with the center.

While attending UMO, Duerk joined both the Delta Mu Delta Honor Society and Upsilon Phi Delta. She is also involved with her church’s worship team, United Methodist Women, and she serves as an Assistant Secretary for the Evangelism Committee.

Earlier this year, Duerk traveled Haiti on a mission trip to provide global medical clinics, proper nutrition classes and vacation bible school. “Being able to travel to this third world country has given me the opportunity to spread awareness and knowledge around my church and to others on how severe the conditions are and ways we can assist,” Duerk shared.

Duerk graduated Summa Cum Laude from UMO in August.  Next steps for her include pursuing a master’s degree in public health/global health at Liberty University.  She would ultimately like to obtain a career working for a federal agency.

“When I first began taking classes at UMO, I set a goal to finish my degree within a year in case my husband was reassigned to another duty station.  This idea seemed a little overwhelming, but with determination, UMO gave me the opportunity to gain the strength and courage to reach my goal.”

Duerk and her husband, Otto, live in Swansboro, NC.

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