MOUNT OLIVE – As a first-generation college student, 23-year-old Aisha Atkinson originally doubted her ability to succeed at the collegiate level. When she enrolled at Mount Olive College, she quickly found her fears baseless. “I had two professors who not only believed in me but readily challenged me during my freshman year. Dr. Linda J. Holland-Toll and Dr. Angela Mullis pushed me to succeed not only in the English courses they instructed me in, but in all of my courses. These women inspired me to go above and beyond in my studies, and I showed both of them the potential I had within.”
Atkinson’s Mount Olive College English professors had so much enthusiasm for their areas of expertise she decided to follow in their footsteps. “By the end of my freshman year, I had not only earned a cumulative 4.0 GPA, but also made the life-changing decision to declare myself an English education major. From that moment on, my life transformed into a life full of many achievements thanks to the influence and unwavering support of Dr. Holland-Toll, Dr. Mullis, and later, Dr. Tommy Benson.”
Initial fears placed far behind her, Atkinson’s disciplined work ethic earned her a spot in the Mount Olive College Honors Program. “Thanks to the Honors Program of Mount Olive College, I experienced my first trip abroad. I travelled to the eastern European nations of Croatia and Slovenia for six days with my fellow peers and faculty chaperones. I enjoyed the experience of travelling overseas so much that I hope to travel again.”
Atkinson’s accomplishments didn’t stop there—she was one of 100 students in the state of North Carolina to receive the competitive Veterans’ Administration Scholarship. This was only the beginning of a long list of honors for Atkinson including: serving as editor and contributor of the Trojan Voices, being inducted in Sigma Tau Delta and Pi Lambda Theta, serving as Senator for the Student Government Association and serving as a Resident Assistant. More recently Atkinson became the 2012 recipient of the Jan Brewer Scholarship award and Student Assistant for the Language and Literature Department.
Atkinson has accomplished more than she ever dreamed possible, but her most important achievement to date is gaining the self-confidence she needed to succeed. “Thanks to my transformational experience at Mount Olive College, I realize that I can achieve and overcome anything so long as I remember to believe in myself. Through that same belief I will graduate from Mount Olive College in spring 2013.”
Atkinson now serves as a shining example to her fellow MOC peers, her family and her community, others have said. “I think I have paved the way for other family members by showing them that it is not necessarily where you come from in life, but rather where it is you wish to go. The children in my community, particularly the teenagers residing in the inner-city of my hometown, need to be aware of the success of young adults in their area.”
Atkinson’s achievements won’t end anytime soon. The ambitious 23-year-old intends to use the confidence she gained at Mount Olive College in all her future endeavors. “During July, I will take on the prestigious honor of working for Duke’s Talent Identification Program (TIP) as a residential counselor for middle grade students at Duke University’s eastern campus,” she explained. “In the future, I would also like to earn my doctorate degree in English, so that I may not only be able to teach at the collegiate level, but also make a difference in the lives of future college students.”
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.