Mother and Daughter Prepare for UMO Graduation

WASHINGTON – One Pitt County mother and daughter will have a lot to celebrate this December.

Sheila Nobles and her daughter, Sherrena, will both graduate together, obtaining degrees from the University of Mount Olive in Washington.

The moment is a longtime coming for Sheila, 61, who will be earning her associate’s degree in general studies.  Like many, Sheila faced difficulties in her early college pursuits. She was attending a local community college when she found out she was pregnant with Sherrena.

“I knew I had to take care of my daughter and at the time I couldn’t do that while working and going to school,” she said.

The courses Sheila had already taken, including one on effective teacher training, helped her land a job as a substitute teacher. She began working in the school system and has been a Craven County School teacher assistant for exceptional children for 20 years.

For Sheila, thoughts of taking her career any further never really crossed her mind until Sherrena enrolled at UMO in Washington.

Like mother, like daughter, Sherrena had taken some community college courses when she found out she would become a mom.  Like her own mother, Sherrena put college to the side and began a career as a medical receptionist.

“I had good jobs, but I wanted more,” Sherrena said. “I needed a university that would accommodate my career and my role as a mother.”

In 2010, at the 27, Sherrena enrolled at UMO in Washington seeking her bachelor’s degree in business administration and human resource management.

Inspired and influenced by her daughter’s decision to return to school, Sheila also enrolled at UMO.

The duo has not shared classes together, but they have shared ideas and supported one another.

“My mom has been with me through everything.  She is one of my biggest supporters, and I think it’s neat that we get to do this together,” Sherrena said.

Sheila agreed, “I think it has definitely bonded us and made us stronger.”

The two will graduate together, but have different plans for their futures.

Sherrena hopes to land a job as a benefits coordinator in human resources, and Sheila wants to continue her career in education. She is already enrolled in the Early Childhood Education bachelor’s degree program at UMO.

“Graduation will be a day that we will never forget!” Sherrena said. “I want to be an inspiration to my daughters, Madison and Melody, and to others, so that they know they can accomplish anything they set their minds to.”

“And I want to let people know that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams,” Sheila concluded.

Shelia noted that her son, Leigh Nobles, is also considering returning to school.  “UMO is at the top of his list,” she smiled.

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