Retired Master Sergeant Fulfills Lifelong Dream of Earning a College Degree

Retired Master Sergeant Fulfills Lifelong Dream of Earning a College Degree

NEW BERN- At age 66 Master Sergeant Philip Childrey of New Bern proves that it is never too late to receive a college degree. With an impressive resume and invaluable criminal justice experience, Childrey decided the only thing missing was a college degree.

Childrey was born in Richmond, VA, where he and his twin brother grew up playing in a band. “I played the drums and my brother played the guitar,” Childrey said. “In high school, we played for parties and functions.”

However, when the Vietnam War escalated, Childrey enlisted in the Army. He served 28 years in the Army Special Forces and retired as a Master Sergeant. Upon returning home, Childrey worked in the Henrico County Police Department and the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office, where he served 22 years.  He retired as a captain in the administration and training academy.  He also taught classes in the Law Enforcement Academy and at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School and Training Center.

“During my time in the military and law enforcement, the demands of the job prevented me from finishing a degree. Transferring from one institution to another depleted my credits, causing me to take classes over and over,” explained Childrey.

Childrey completed credits at the Richmond Professional Institute, Virginia Commonwealth University, Methodist University, and Shaw University in Fayetteville. However, he was unable to complete his degree until he turned to the University of Mount Olive at New Bern in 2012.

Thriving on challenges and opportunities, Childrey had no problem acclimating to the demands of a college student. He entered the Criminal Justice and Criminology (CJC) program at UMO in 2012.

“This was the logical major to pursue,” noted Childrey. “I enjoy all sections of law enforcement, especially criminal investigation and management positions. I would like to teach in the criminal justice curriculum at a community college until I complete a master’s degree.”

When reflecting on his educational experience at UMO, Childrey stated, “UMO has allowed me to transform to a new level of academic qualifications that will allow me to assist others in reaching their goals in life. I would also like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Gayle Stevens in the Criminal Justice Department for his tireless efforts and support of all of the students he has served at UMO. His efforts helped me succeed.”

Childrey resides in New Bern with his wife, Renee, and their two Labrador Retrievers. He has four grown sons:  Philip, Jr., John, Joel, and Wade.

He is a Master Mason, Sudan Shriner, a member of the Craven County Law Enforcement Offices Association, the Army Special Forces Association, and the Disabled Veterans Association.

Childrey graduated from UMO at New Bern in December of 2014.  In reflecting on the experience he said, “The last two years have been a hard regimentation of discipline, scheduling, dedication, and an old Seal Motto ‘you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.’”  Next on the horizon, Childrey plans to pursue his master’s degree and would like to teach at the collegiate level.  This summer he will take his granddaughter to Disney.

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