Mother and Son Share Lives in and out of Classroom

MOUNT OLIVE- University of Mount Olive helps many older students get their degrees in a manner that best suits their needs. Few though, like Mount Olive native Zina Carr, get the chance to earn a college degree alongside one of their children. After 25 years apart from education, Zina enrolled in University of Mount Olive’s Heritage Program.  After receiving her Associates Degree from University of Mount Olive, she entered the modular program for working adults with her son, Bradley Carr.
Getting a college degree has always been one of Zina’s dreams. However soon after graduating from high school she became pregnant.  Before long she was mother to three sons and working to care for them.
 “I thought my hopes of a college education were gone forever,” Zina said.
Twenty-two years later, her middle son, Bradley, graduated with an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering, and was ready to better himself.
“I knew that if I wanted a good job I would have to go deeper into my education,” Bradley said.
So, in the fall of 2009, Bradley and Zina simultaneously enrolled in the Management and Organizational Development (MOD) program at University of Mount Olive to obtain their bachelor’s degrees.  The dynamic of being fellow students, as well as mother and son was new to the pair and took some getting used to.
“I remember when Bradley and I found out we would be in class together, I told him that he didn’t have to sit with me if he didn’t want to because I didn’t want to embarrass him,” Zina recalled.  “He just gave me a strange look.”  The first night of class he walked right in and sat beside me, and that is where he sat throughout the program.”
Bradley added, “It seemed as though we were brother and sister, rather than mother and son.  We were always in competition with each other over grades.”
Zina agreed, “We often studied together, just like when Bradley was in junior high and I would call out the questions to him while he provided the answers.  This time, he also called the questions out to me in a type of role reversal.  We would often bring humor into the answers to make them easier to remember. I have actually snickered as I answered questions during a test and remembered us cutting up like school kids while we studied.”  Dr. Dave Hill always teased us about who would make the highest grade on the test; Mom or Son.
Sometimes it was me, and sometimes it was Bradley – most of the time it was Bradley.  Our classmates called Bradley the “Branianc”.  I was referred to as Bradley’s mom.”
Although strengthening their relationship has been a bonus of earning their degrees together, they hope the real reward will come in the form of professional advancement.   Zina, who graduated in May, has already seen the effects of her education by being hired by Carolina & Howard Farms, LLC as an office manager. Bradley plans to graduate in August and is looking forward to applying what he has learned at his current job at Sanderson Farms Inc. in Kinston, NC.
“Sanderson Farms has a management trainee program I would like to become a part of, once I earn my degree,” Bradley said.
Both mother and son would like to one day pursue their master’s degrees. To celebrate their upcoming graduations the Carr’s are planning a family vacation to get some much needed R and R.
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