Burke Middle College Student Flourishes in Non-Traditional Environment


Burke Middle College (BMC) senior, Haley Strickland, has flourished in a non-traditional, high school environment. The opportunity to gain an associate’s degree while earning her high school diploma intrigued Strickland, and has led her to majoring in criminal justice. With aspirations of becoming a lawyer and eventually a Federal Supreme Court Judge, the unique high school/college environment has helped pave the way towards her success.

“I chose BMC because it seemed like a better fit for me than a traditional high school. The program allowed me to earn college credit and get a head start on my career,” said Strickland.

The mission of BMC is simple – to prepare the hearts and minds of today and tomorrow’s leaders for the 21st century. BMC is a two-year educational program operated by Burke County Public Schools and Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC).  Through this program, students complete their 11th and 12th grade coursework on the campus of WPCC, while also working toward a college associate degree. All college courses completed during their enrollment in BMC are completely tuition-free. *

Students may complete their entire community college degree by the time they graduate high school, thereby giving them a two-year head start on achieving their college and career goals. This academically challenging environment provides individualized attention and career counseling as well as personal development through motivation, leadership, teamwork, independence, maturity, coping skills and accessibility to resources for career planning.

Strickland also serves as the Vice President of the WPCC SGA and is a member of the college’s Criminal Justice Club.

“This has allowed me to experience many things that I would not otherwise. Because of BMC and WPCC, I have been able to join clubs and become involved in the community,” said Strickland.

Completing a two-year degree along with a high school diploma can be a bit daunting. For those students considering the challenge, Strickland offers advice.

“I would advise other students not to get bogged down by things that seem impossible. It is easy to look at your goals and deem them too difficult to achieve. When you feel this way try not to let it discourage you,” said Strickland.

After graduating BMC this spring, Strickland is joining the Fighting Camels of Campbell University where she was recently awarded a Presidential scholarship. She attributes much of her academic success to BMC and WPCC.

“Western Piedmont has been extremely supportive of me and has enabled me to reach my goals through abundant resources and involved staff,” said Strickland.