MOUNT OLIVE — Fifty-six-year old Darlene Oakley can hardly believe she will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Mount Olive College on Saturday. She will be one of 12 that will make up the first RN to BSN graduates from the college. Even more amazing is the fact that Oakley’s daughter, Elizabeth Oakley Clayton, will graduate on the same day with her bachelor’s degree in business administration. “It is a thrill to know we will be in the same commencement ceremony,” Oakley said. “I cannot wait to celebrate this special day with her as her mother and her classmate. I am so proud.”
Oakley and Clayton won’t be the first members of their family to become MOC alumni. Oakley’s son, Danny, graduated from MOC in 2010 and her niece, Sherry Lloyd, is a 2004 graduate. “They both had families and were working full time when they completed their degrees,” Oakley said. “They encouraged me to choose MOC for the quality of education I would receive, and for the fact that the MOC caters to working adults.”
For Oakley, earning a bachelor’s degree is a dream that has been a long time coming. “I have wanted to obtain my BSN since I graduated from Watts School of Nursing RN Diploma program in 1978. I married my high school sweetheart the week after graduation, and we had three wonderful children. I attended seated classes in the 1980s, but I found attending classes, working full time, and raising a family was overwhelming.”
Oakley had a great support system this time around. “It took a lot of pre-planning, making lists, and prioritizing. I owe a lot of gratitude to my husband, family and friends for their support and understanding while I was studying.”
Oakley would recommend RN to BSN program at Mount Olive College to other nurses looking to further their education. “The online degree program is challenging and the commitment of the instructors is unbelievable. They are highly supportive and inspire each student to grow beyond what they believe is possible.”
After hearing about the flexibility of Mount Olive College Oakley’s daughter transferred to the College’s RTP location. “I loved that I could have a full time job during the day and also fit in my education,” said Clayton. “I really matured going through the program.”
For Clayton, graduating from college with her mother is more than a dream realized—it is an amazing blessing. “I am honored to be graduating next to my mother. She has fought through cancer, has had an amazing career, and has completed her education at Mount Olive College. Her story has always brought me strength and inspiration that I can do anything, because she did it so gracefully!”
Oakley resides in Mebane with her husband Jack. Clayton resides in Prospect Hill with her husband Kevin, and son, Tommy.
Mount Olive College will graduate approximately 200 students at its summer commencement on Saturday, Aug. 24. Graduation exercises are scheduled for 2 p.m. in the George and Annie Dail Kornegay Arena. Steve Keen, chairman of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners, will be the commencement speaker.
Mount Olive College 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 www.moc.edu.