“As a first generation college graduate, I hope to inspire young folks who need direction or motivation to utilize the resources of Sampson Community College to gain an education to obtain their goals” comments Mike Strickland as he reflects on his educational journey.
Now as a resident of Garland, Strickland shares his story, starting from 1992 as a veteran of the US Air Force. Two years later, he graduated from Nashville Auto Diesel College and moved to Garland to be close to family and begin work as an auto mechanic in Clinton.
While he worked, he attended night classes at Sampson Community College under the Montgomery GI Bill. With his advisor as his mentor, Mike initially started in College Transfer and took general education classes, while working at Warren Engines and Wade’s Honda as a mechanic.
However, since he had not lived in NC and achieved in-state status, he was considered an out-of-state student for tuition rates. His employers helped assist him with tuition costs and also worked around his school schedule to let him off early to attend night school at SCC.
In September of 1995, due to cancer, Mike could no longer perform the job for which he was trained. Through these trials, his career dreams began to change. The following year, Mike returned to SCC as a full-time student and qualified for retraining through NC State Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
With much support from many, retired SCC Financial Aid Director, Judye Tart, informed Mike of the NC Health, Math and Science Grant Program for qualified students who major in any of the three fields. After receiving the grant, Mike continued to work towards his goal to become a physical therapist, a profession where Mike felt he could use his medical inclination to help people get more mobile.
In 1997, Strickland walked across the stage to receive his Associate in Science from SCC having earned a 4.0 GPA. With goals and dreams in mind, Strickland took advantage of the College Transfer Program through Sampson Community College to transfer to UNC-W where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a 3.667 GPA and cum laude distinction. With acceptance from the physical therapy schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, Western Carolina and ECU, Strickland selected ECU to grasp his goal. In 1999, Strickland graduated with his Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy.
For the past 12 years, Strickland has given back to many within Sampson and surrounding counties through 3HC Homecare and Hospice in Clinton. He and his wife, Allison, continue to reside in Garland with their two children, Sarah and Martha, and their grandson Zayn. As he did with his educational goals, Strickland has created long-term goals which include being a good PaPaw, father, husband, and a citizen who gives back to Sampson County.
“Sampson Community College had all to do with my success in the classroom and in life. There are dedicated professors who believe in their students and because there is small student to teacher ratio, professors get to know their students and are able to inspire them in a personalized way. I consider my professors at SCC as personal friends. Even when I had transferred to the university level, I would seek counsel from my professors at SCC because I knew they cared and wanted me to succeed. I cannot put enough emphasis and show enough appreciation to the people within my community, work place and to the SCC faculty and staff who helped me achieve my goals. I offer a personal thank you to Steve Branch, Paul Wolf, Linda Schrum, Mr. Humphreys, Beth Daughtery, Judye Tart, Sharon Leggett and Ann Knowles. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the students of SCC and for believing in me,” says Strickland.