Mother and Daughter to Graduate Together

JACKSONVILLE –Kathy Atchison and her oldest daughter, Jessica (Atchison) Roberts, will celebrate Mother’s Day early this year.  The pair will graduate on May 5, with their bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education from University of Mount Olive.  They attended the College’s Jacksonville, North Carolina location.
According to Atchison, “This was no easy feat.” Atchison, the wife of Major James Atchison Jr. and Roberts, the wife of Corporal Adam Roberts knows what it means to adapt and overcome.
Atchison opened a child care center in Jacksonville two years ago and is planning to open a developmental day program for children with special needs.  Her degree in Early Childhood Education will become the foundation for the developmental day program.
The idea for the program came after planning for the arrival of the Atchison’s sixth child, Jeremy, who had an unusual chromosomal disorder, Trisomy 18.   Atchison, a pediatric registered nurse, realized that there were minimal resources available for children with special needs and none that could manage medically fragile children, like Jeremy.  Sadly, Jeremy was stillborn but his memory lives on through the work that his mother and sister are doing with the children in Onslow County.
Roberts has worked alongside her mother, as assistant director, since the child care facility opened and is taking on the role of director this summer, following graduation.  Attending University of Mount Olive was Robert’s idea.  She enrolled newly pregnant with a husband set to deploy to Afghanistan.   Robert’s encouraged her mother to register as well.  They began Cohort 2 together.
“Six months later, and perfectly planned by God, we welcomed Owen Stewart Roberts to our family over the Christmas break,” Roberts said.  Two weeks later, and just one night a week, she continued classes without missing a beat.  Later that summer, her husband deployed to Afghanistan.  Roberts continued to work towards her degree.  Completing 24 credits this spring, she was determined to finish on time.
On May 5, both mother and daughter proudly will walk side-by-side across the stage to receive their degrees in Early Childhood Education.  These degrees will provide the education to make their dreams become realities.  Graduation has different meanings for each of them.  However, both are thankful for the opportunity that University of Mount Olive provided through classes that accommodated their busy schedules.  

“Jessica and I want to thank everyone that has helped us along the way,” Atchison said.  “We are excited about what the future has in store.  Neither one of us knew exactly how much our degrees would further us in the field of early childhood education.  However, with degrees in hand and a broader vision given to us by the Early Childhood Education program at University of Mount Olive, a brighter future is just around the corner!”
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