Husband and Wife Team Graduated Together

MOUNT OLIVE – Husband and wife Joseph and Heidii Wilder of Pine Level enrolled at University of Mount Olive hoping to build better lives together. On December 8th, they came one step closer to that when they graduated with their respective degrees. “There will be new doors opened for both of us to provide a better life for our family,” said Heidii. “We have more skills for the jobs that we are seeking,” said Joseph. “These degrees will help us in obtaining our long term goals.”

Heidii and Joseph met when they were teenagers. “I knew she was the one for me because she stayed on my mind,” said Joseph. They saw each other again years later. “He was talking with some friends and I walked by,” said Heidii. “He was in the same spot when I came back and headed to my car. As I was walking, I heard footsteps behind me and it was him. We have been together ever since.”

Heidii, 30, enrolled in the Healthcare Management program at University of Mount Olive. A past experience influenced her to choose the healthcare field. “My mom died when I was 17 years old, a senior in high school,” she explained. “I saw the care and compassion that was shown to her and our family in the hospital when she was sick. I decided that I wanted to help people in that situation.”

Joseph, 29, majored in science for his associate’s degree. He chose University of Mount Olive to be closer to Heidii. They playfully competed when they had classes together. “We are competitive, so we would try to see who could get the best grades on tests and papers,” Heidii said. “This actually made us work harder because neither one of us wanted to lose.” Joseph agreed stating, “I also enjoyed competing with her for the highest grade. Studying together we were able to help each other. If she didn’t get something, I did. If I didn’t get something, she did.”

They motivated each other. “At times when I felt like giving up, he always encouraged me to keep going,” Heidii said about her husband. “She helped me plan,” Joseph explained. “She always said that I could do it, even when I felt like I couldn’t.”

It was a tough road, but the Wilder’s know their degrees from University of Mount Olive will give them the kind of life they want for their family. “University of Mount Olive has shown me that there is no excuse for not pursuing a higher education,” Heidii said.

Joseph said, “I thank God, my wife, my daughter and my mom for giving me the strength and encouragement to make it to this day.”

Heidii added, “I am thankful for my husband, family and friends that have supported me on this journey.  I am thankful we were able to show our daughter that she can do anything.  My dad is a big influence in my life and he has always encouraged me.  I am thankful that he saw me walk across the stage to receive my degree.”   Her advice to others thinking of returning to college, “No matter your circumstances are, you can graduate from college. I’m not saying that it is going to be easy, but it is definitely attainable.”

University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit