Whiteville Couple Receives a Rewarding Education at UMO-Wilmington

Whiteville Couple Receives a Rewarding Education at UMO-Wilmington

WILMINGTON- Thirty six year old Darnell and Fale McNeil of Whiteville are gearing up to receive their associate’s degrees from the University of Mount Olive at Wilmington in May. The couple, who has been married for 16 years, decided to earn their degrees together and inspire their six children.

Darnell grew up in Elizabethtown, NC, and Fale grew up in Tacoma, WA. At opposite ends of the country, both enlisted in the US Navy in 1996. Shortly afterwards, Darnell and Fale met and then married on September 3, 1998.

Life transformed quickly for the couple.  Before they knew it, they had six children and they were working full time to support them. The McNeils put any thoughts of a college education on hold in order to raise their family.  However, as their children grew older, Darnell and Fale decided that it was time to pursue their college degrees to not only reach their professional goals, but also to instill the importance of education with their children.

“The reason I decided to go back to college was for my kids. I was always telling them that education is the key to success,” said Darnell. “One day my son challenged me and said, ‘Well, you don’t have your degree.’ When he said that, it sparked something in me, and that’s when I began my journey towards my degree.”

Fale added, “Darnell and I became parents at a young age, so the thought of college rarely entered my mind. Having a job and a pay check took priority in order to support the family. As I matured, I realized that a degree could take us further in our careers and would also show our children the importance of college.”

Darnell enrolled at UMO in 2012, but then transferred to a school closer to home. Later, he learned that he was missing out on the transformative experience at UMO and decided to recommit to the institution with Fale in 2014.

“UMO understands real life for working adults,” said Fale who juggles her coursework with her duties as a mother and as a client care specialist at BB&T. “The flexibility of the online classes at UMO has made it possible for me to pursue a degree while working, and I still have time for my family.”

“The professors at the University are absolutely top notch,” said Darnell, who also juggles a busy schedule as a salesman at Clayton Homes.  “UMO has prepared me to be effective by ensuring that I understand the coursework and preparing me to contribute to society.”

However, gaining their associate’s degrees isn’t the stopping point for the couple’s educational ambitions. They plan to continue their education by pursuing their bachelor’s degrees from UMO at Wilmington as well.

“Throughout my education, I have learned how important we are as parents in teaching our children and molding them,” explained Darnell. “Therefore, I have chosen to pursue the bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. I eventually want to become a primary school teacher.”

“I plan to continue my education and receive a bachelor’s in human resources management,” said Fale. “I hope that my future degree will open doors for me in my career and allow me to pursue positions that I never thought I could reach before UMO.”

Fale commented about often being in the same classes with her husband, “It’s been challenging, but also very rewarding. I am so proud of him, and we constantly push each other to be better students.”

Darnell added, “My wife is such a big supporter of me in the classroom, and I of her. We will continue to push one another to succeed and have fun along the way.”

Fale concluded, “The University of Mount Olive has transformed us professionally, personally, and educationally, and has given us the tools to provide and inspire our children.”

The University of Mount Olive will graduate around 320 students on Saturday, May 2, 2015.  Commencement exercises are scheduled for 2 PM in the George and Annie Dail Kornegay Arena on the Mount Olive campus.

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 old.umo.edu.