UMO May Graduate Sets Sights on Ph.D. Program in Nebraska

UMO May Graduate Sets Sights on Ph.D. Program in Nebraska

MOUNT OLIVE -Josh Byrd was born and raised in North Carolina.  He graduated from Cape Lookout Marine Science High School in Morehead City in 2002.  He immediately enrolled in a local community college, where he attended classes part time while juggling a part time job.  He obtained his teacher training certificate a year after his high school graduation and began substitute teaching at his alma mater.  All the while, he continued taking classes at the community college.  In 2011, he graduated with his two-year degree in general education.


As Byrd grew more mature, he realized that his calling was in teaching and research within the early childhood field.  In 2013, Byrd enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program at the University of Mount Olive in New Bern. He is set to graduate in May and already has his sights set on graduate school, having been accepted into the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Ph.D. program in the Child, Youth, and Family Studies Department. He will be conducting research while earning a Ph.D. He has also applied for an assistantship that would allow him to work in a childcare facility in Lincoln, NE that specializes in caring for at-risk children.


“As a soon-to-be graduate student, I feel that UMO has provided me with the framework of how to conduct myself as a professional researcher,” Byrd said. “In the UMO ECE program, much of what we learned pertained to acting professionally and ethically while promoting cultural competence and developmentally appropriate practice.”


Byrd credits Assistant Professor of ECE Dr. Sandra Potter for encouraging him to pursue his post graduate degree.  “I cannot say enough positive things about Dr. Potter,” he said.  “From the first time I met her in EDU 305, she challenged me to prove to her and to myself that I am capable of great things. After several classes, she began to repeatedly ask me about my intentions regarding graduate school. It is because of Dr. Potter that I am enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.”


According to Byrd’s professors, he has the drive, compassion, and diligence to offer significant contributions in the field of education.  While at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Byrd has applied for an assistantship that would allow him to work in a childcare facility that specializes in caring for at-risk children.   Through both the assistantship and the Ph.D. program, Byrd hopes to learn more about bringing culture into the classroom and promoting togetherness through diversity.  He is also passionate about informing parents, teachers, and policy makers about the importance of early intervention for at-risk children, how paramount the role of play has in a child’s learning, and how children learn in different ways depending on their innate types of intelligence.


Speaking about his UMO experience Byrd said, “I chose ECE as my major to become a stepping stone to early childhood research.  UMO has transformed my life by providing me the chance as a working adult to earn my bachelor’s degree one night per week. With carefully planned course loads and teachers that understand the schedules of working adult, UMO is the ideal choice for returning college students in Eastern North Carolina.”


Byrd has been married for nine years to Nikki.  They have two children, Liliana Belle and Ivy Olivia.


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