New Bern Student Set to Graduate Saturday from the University of Mount Olive

New Bern Student Set to Graduate Saturday from the University of Mount Olive 

NEW BERN- Brandy Fillingame of New Bern knows first-hand about the struggles of returning to college. However, on May 2ndshe will walk across the stage at the University of Mount Olive to receive her bachelor’s degree.  “It is a moment long anticipated and well worth the effort,” she said.

Fillingame began her college education at age 16 through the dual enrollment program at Lenoir Community College. While being homeschooled by her parents, she was getting a jump start on her college degree. Fillingame then graduated from LCC with an associate degree in liberal arts in 2003 and began her classes at the University of Mount Olive. However, her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree was put on hold.

“I was in one of the first cohorts at UMO, attending classes every Saturday for 59 weeks. Then life happened, and I was unable to complete my degree in 2004,” shared Fillingame. “I bought a house, got married, had a child, and got divorced. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was working 40 hours a week to support myself and my son with this partially completed degree.”

Fillingame worked at Pitt Community College before moving to New Bern. Luckily, her manager influenced her to return to school and finish the degree that she started.

“My manager, Mary, at PCC was extremely supportive and influential in my decision to get back in school. She kept pushing me and reminding me of the great things she could see me accomplishing with that degree,” said Fillingame. “As I started my job search in order to move to New Bern in 2013, we discussed various job opportunities, and all of the jobs that I really wanted required a BS degree.’

In December of 2013, Fillingame reenrolled at the University of Mount Olive at New Bern. She entered the Criminal Justice and Criminology (CJC) program and immersed herself in school work.

“It’s definitely been a struggle juggling work, home life, and school,” revealed Fillingame. “I work at Chatsworth Products as a production administrative assistant, and I was recently married in 2014, so there has been a lot to manage while pursuing this degree.”

All of Fillingame’s hard work has paid off, and she is excited to receive the degree that has been in the making for 12 years.

“All of the faculty and staff at the UMO at New Bern location have helped me tremendously in providing me with the tools that I need to complete my degree. It has been a pleasure being a student at UMO! With this degree, my career options are increased.  It is absolutely never too late to return to school.  My son will be at my graduation, and, every time I think about him watching me graduate, it brings me to tears. The sense of accomplishment and pride that I feel is amazing!  I want my son and stepchildren to realize that you can accomplish anything when you work hard.”

The University of Mount Olive is set to graduate nearly 320 students at its spring commencement on Saturday, May 2.  The graduation speaker will be Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes, and Fries President and Founder Kenney Moore, also a UMO alumnus.

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