Student Gains Self-Esteem While Earning Her Degree

MOUNT OLIVE – Seretha Johnson needed a change.  So three years ago, the 45-year-old mother of two, packed her bags and moved from Roanoke Rapids to Mount Olive.  Feeling an overwhelming desire to do something to better herself, she enrolled at University of Mount Olive.  “I had considered some other places to enroll and then I saw the commercial for MOC and enrolled in the Heritage Program in 2009.”

Johnson says that one of the most difficult obstacles she had to face was overcoming her low self-esteem.  “I was married for 15 years and then divorced.  I felt like I was a disappointment to my family, and I wanted to make them proud of me.  Earning my degree has made my mother and my 85-year-old grandmother very proud.”

Johnson says that the age diversity in the classrooms was also a comfort to her esteem.  “There were 40-year-olds, as well as some 60-year-old students in classes with me.  There is no age to college.”

Johnson was so excited about her new life, that she encouraged her son, Tomarcus Gary, to enroll at University of Mount Olive.  “I was so glad when he moved to be with me.  This will be his second semester at MOC.  He is very proud of his mama, and I am very proud of him.”

At one time Johnson worked three jobs, one of them was at University of Mount Olive as a campus security officer, while attending school.  “I would go without sleep sometimes, and other times I would just fall asleep while studying.”  Eventually the stress from the hectic schedule began to wear her down and she became ill.

“I was suffering from chest pains and respiratory problems.  I had to let two of my jobs go.”  Instead of giving up, she drew inspiration from her co-workers, her teachers, staff members, and her children.  “They helped me gain the confidence I needed to believe I could do it.  I feel like my degree from University of Mount Olive has started my climb on the ladder to success.  Seeing my children cheer me on as I receive my degree will bring so much joy to my heart.”

There were many times Johnson thought of packing her bags and returning home, but she had a dream.  “I learned to stand still and trust God.  I love to help people, and I feel like it’s a gift.”  Johnson advises other adults who may consider giving up to just, “ride out the storm and never give up.”

University of Mount Olive will graduate approximately 250 students at its 58th commencement.

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