Loss of Father Inspires UMO Student to Succeed

Loss of Father Inspires UMO Student to Succeed

MOUNT OLIVE- A college journey can signify something completely different to every student at the University of Mount Olive. For Allison Kee of Concord, it marks a complete transformation. After battling personal hardships, Kee is set to receive her bachelor’s degree on May, 2.  When reflecting on her journey at the University of Mount Olive, Kee attributes her success to her trials, professors, and experiences at the institution.

When Kee was a freshman at Central Cabarrus High School, her father passed away. It was heartbreaking for Kee to grow up without her father, but the experience only made her stronger.

“Being an only child, losing my father, and having a single parent who wondered how we would even pay for college was scary,” revealed Kee. “Ultimately, my dad’s passing has shown me that I can accomplish anything as long as I work hard.”

Kee and her mother, Lisa, worried about college expenses as Kee approached high school graduation. Kee knew that she wanted to pursue a career in the agriculture field. She applied to the University of Mount Olive and received scholarships that made her college decision an easy one.

“I receive the McCorkle Family Scholarship, the Merit Scholarship, and the UMO CFFA Scholarship. Without these scholarships I would not have been able to attend the University,” said Kee. “These scholarships have allowed me to focus on my studies rather than the financial aspects of college. Most importantly, I knew that UMO was home when I visited the campus. I wanted to be a part of a small community and knew I could succeed greatly at this institution.”

Kee stepped onto the campus of UMO for the first time as a college student in the fall of 2011. She quickly adapted to her classes and found a home away from home within the Agriculture Department.

“The relationships that I have developed in the agriculture program will follow me in years to come. One of the most influential relationships that I have gained is with Dr. Sandy Maddox,” said Kee. “She has pushed me to be the person that I have become and has given me more opportunities to build my character than I can count. She knows how much I have struggled, yet she has always been there to support me in everything that I have done. She inspires me to be the strong, independent, hardworking, determined person that I am now.”

Throughout her time at UMO, Kee changed her major four times. She began her journey at UMO as an agriculture education major but was overwhelmed by the difficulties of high school teaching. She changed her major to different business aspects of the agriculture field but realized that her heart has always been with teaching. She again declared agriculture education as her major in the fall of her senior year.

“I started out with this major and I am finishing college with this major. I chose to be an agriculture teacher because I want to influence the lives of students just as my high school advisors did for me,” smiled Kee. “After being in the classroom and seeing how many lives I have changed during my student teaching experience, I could not dream of doing anything else.”

Director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center Dr. Sandy Maddox said, “When I first met Allison I knew that she had great potential. The only thing I had to do was help her to realize her passion and help her to believe that she was capable of achieving it. Allison has a spirit and a work ethic that sets her apart both scholastically and as a leader. I have enjoyed very much watching her grow and know she will be successful in all that she pursues.”

With the help of Dr. Maddox, Kee immersed herself into the opportunities available at UMO. She has participated in the Collegiate FFA, Collegiate Young Farmers and Ranchers, and the Student Government Association. Kee also gained her Pork Quality Assurance, Transportation Quality Assurance, Beef Quality Assurance certifications, and is now a Certified Plant Professional.

“I’ve received so many opportunities through UMO. I traveled to Virginia Beach, VA and Nashville, TN with Young Farmers and Ranchers for national conferences, which allowed me to learn more about the agriculture industry from a national aspect. These experiences have changed my view on agriculture and have made me excited to see the opportunities that I have waiting in the future.”

Kee has also watched the institution grow tremendously over her four years of attendance. “Seeing UMO expand has been one of the most rewarding things to experience throughout my four years. The Agriculture Department has impressed me the most, because we originally had a little garden out behind the baseball field, and now we have a farm, a mechanics shop, and an arboretum.”

Upon graduation in May, Kee will start her journey as a high school agriculture teacher. She also plans to pursue her master’s degree in horticulture or entomology in the next few years.

“Being able to walk across that stage in May will be one of the biggest accomplishments in my life, and being able to do it at a school that I call home is so rewarding. It is truly an honor to graduate from the University of Mount Olive considering the struggles that I have endured, and I think it will make my dad proud.”

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.