Rocky Mount, N.C.—When Valerie Hardison graduates from NC Wesleyan College on May 3, she plans to celebrate not only the completion of her bachelor’s degree with majors in both religious studies and psychology but also her admission to Duke Divinity School in the fall with a full tuition scholarship.
“I don’t feel I can thank everyone enough for the great help and support that I have received in pursuit of this acceptance into Duke,” Hardison said. “My family and their sacrifices, the encouragement of my congregation, all those who have mentored me along the way, and of course NC Wesleyan in their preparation to send me forth, have helped to author this success. No student does it alone. God is good, and I have been blessed in the journey.”
The southern Indiana native and resident of Kenansville, NC, was selected for the scholarship by Thriving Rural Communities, which is a partnership of Duke Divinity School, the Duke Endowment, the NC Conference of The United Methodist Church, and the Western NC Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Since January 2012, Hardison has been serving the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church as a licensed local pastor at Corinth United Methodist Church in Four Oaks, NC. She says she aspires to obtain her master of divinity degree through Duke University for the purpose of seeking ordination and continuing in servant ministry.
Hardison graduated from Indiana Vocational Technical College in 1993 with a certificate in practical nursing and worked as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) for nearly 20 years. She and her husband, Dean, have two children—Evan, age 18, and Ashlynn, 15.
Hardison has attended Wesleyan’s Goldsboro site since 2010 and is graduating through the college’s ASPIRE Program (Adult Student Program: Innovative, Respected, Engaging), which allows mature men and women to tailor course loads to meet personal, career, and life goals through accelerated classes, online and hybrid courses, and other options.
Hardison extends these words of praise to her fellow classmates: “Congratulations NC Wesleyan College, Class of 2014, for your terrific achievement. I look forward to walking alongside you on May 3rd!”