Mount Olive graduation finishes 'bucket list' for 63-year-old

Posted December 13, 2009 12:00 p.m. EST
Updated December 13, 2009 3:55 p.m. EST

— Among those graduating from Mount Olive College Saturday were a 63-year-old woman accomplishing a lifelong dream and a trio of mothers working at Duke Health System.

Brenda Robbins, 63, of Rocky Mount, fulfilled a goal she had set for herself at age 16 by earning a bachelor of science degree in management and organizational development.

"My diploma is a gift of education this Christmas season – a gift of hard work, determination and lots of prayer," Robbins said. "It goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks."

Robbins said she had knocked off many goals on her 47-year-old list – owning horses, publishing a short story, teaching, traveling to Europe, getting married and having children. But earning a degree from a four-year college remained elusive until she enrolled at Mount Olive.

"God opened that door like He has opened so many other doors in life," Robbins said. "I have grown up from a girl who was told she couldn't learn to an adult with a college education."

Among the others celebrating their graduation Saturday were Tammy Matthews, Cheryl Taylor and Lisa Meadows. The three, who all work at Duke Health System, had pursued their college dreams together.

"We all wanted to go back to school but could not figure out how to juggle several classes a week while taking care our families and working full time," Meadows said.

The three enrolled in an associate degree program and attended classes one night a week at Mount Olive's campus in Research Triangle Park. They all said they plan to continue into bachelor's degrees programs at Mount Olive.

The women said they expect the advanced degrees to help both their families and careers.

"By seeing me in school, my children are more likely to became college graduates as well," said Meadows, a mother of five.

"My degree will help me advance in my career while giving me the strength and courage that I need to keep moving and not be at a standstill," Taylor said.

As for herself, Robbins said that finishing one list of lifelong goals means it's time to start a new one.

"I guess the question now is, what's next?" she said. "The answer for me is to create new goals and work hard to get my second bucket list completed."