UMO alumna finds success in nontraditional way


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MOUNT OLIVE — Because of its multiple locations and numerous degree programs, the University of Mount Olive serves a diverse student population that includes individuals from all stages of life. For some, UMO is a stepping stone in a career pathway that already exists. For UMO alumna Billie Turner, her degree has proved to be the most crucial stepping stone yet.

Like many adults, life’s challenges sidetracked Turner’s dreams to pursue a degree.

“Becoming a mom at a young age, I decided to put a hold on my education to raise my son,” she said. Instead, Turner settled into a job at a small organization. However, she found herself struggling because she wanted more from her career. “I loved what I was doing. I was surrounded by wonderful team members, but there was no set career path for me to achieve the goals that I wanted for myself and my family,” Turner added.

In an attempt to propel herself professionally, Turner enrolled at Lenoir Community College with the objective or earning her associate’s degree and nothing more. However, after graduating in May 2014, she realized she had a true passion for learning.

“UMO was my first choice, because several of my friends spoke highly of the people and the programs,” she said.

In August 2014, Turner enrolled at UMO as a nontraditional student. She majored in business administration and minored in human resource management, taking all of her classes online. “Most classes are five week sessions,” she noted. “This made it incredibly easy to focus on one or two classes instead of having to balance four or five classes at a time.”

In May 2015, while still enrolled at UMO, Turner was offered a job in Human Resources at Vidant Health as a Benefits Technician. She was then promoted to a Benefits Specialist. Finally, she advanced to her current position as a Benefits Analyst. “I feel it was not a coincidence that after I became serious about my education, opportunities began to immediately follow,” she said. Turner also believes raising a family and working full time while obtaining degree demonstrates determination, dedication, and diligence.

Turner earned her bachelor’s degree from UMO in December of 2016, and immediately enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program (MBA). She feels sure that by furthering her education, she will continue to grow in her career. “With each class I complete, I feel that I walk away with knowledge and skills that I can use every day,” Turner stated.

Turner’s experience at UMO was eye-opening for her, and she continues to credit her professional success to her education. “My experience with UMO has been nothing shy of awesome. Continuing my education has given me more confidence in myself than I have ever had before. I can say without a doubt that UMO has changed my life. I have received two promotions in a two-year period, and I know that I have UMO to thank for that!” she said.

Turner has also gained an understanding of how important a college degree is, and hopes that others will not let time hold them back. “A friend once told me, ‘It doesn’t matter if you do everything in your life backwards, just as long as you still get it done,” she said. “If you did not complete your education the traditional way, there is still time to achieve the goals that you once placed on the back burner. Contact UMO and get serious about your education,” she added.

When asked to sum up her UMO experience with one word, Turner chose “invaluable.” “Every day I am overwhelmingly thankful that someone gave me the words of encouragement that I needed to enroll at UMO! My life has completely changed from five years ago, and I can now say that I am proud of the person that I have become,” she said.

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