Since 2003, Susie Burns has served the students of Sampson Community College (SCC) as a full-time Biology Instructor in the College Transfer department.
Commuting an hour to work each week for the past twenty years, Burns proudly plans to retire on July 1, 2023.
Before taking her current position at SCC, Burns was self-employed in the stained-glass business for two decades, creating custom residential commissions and designing a wholesale line of glass angels that she sold to gift stores across the Eastern U.S.
An alumni of UNC Pembroke and Fayetteville State University, Burns considers herself to be a “late bloomer,” returning to school in 2000 alongside her daughter to obtain her bachelors and master’s degrees in Biology. After graduation in 2003, Burns saw the Biology Instructor position being advertised at the College and decided to apply straightaway.
She explained, “I taught classes when I had the stained-glass business and people would tell me that I should be a teacher as a profession. When I went back to school and was deciding on a major, I debated between Biology and English. I listed on paper the pros and cons of each. When I saw it written out, it was obvious to me that biology was the one. I was always interested in science, especially nature. My sister used to say I was bug-crazy. She was right!”
Burns shared that she has always enjoyed interacting with her students at SCC, instructing them on the concepts of living things.
When asked about her fondest memory, Burns recalled the time she brought snakes to school in order to teach and slightly “freak out” her students during class. However, she remembered, by the end of the day, the students who were the most terrified “ended up walking around with the snake draped around their neck!”
“My greatest accomplishment at SCC has been getting students interested in biology,” Burns remarked. “Many are very apprehensive of science at first, but when they learn so many things that are applicable to their lives, they become very interested in it. We have some quite interesting conversations in class. They have been very receptive and enjoyed having a weird instructor.”
Kayla Bednar, a recent graduate of the College Transfer program, described her experience in Burns’ classes over the years as “fun and exciting.” Specifically noting the time Burns showed them a cow heart in a jar, Bednar explained how she always made hard topics simple to understand—not just through her teaching methods, but through her genuine desire to help students succeed.
Bednar personally voiced, “I always loved Mrs. Burns’ classes. She honestly cared about her students and wanted them to learn. But most importantly, she was the teacher who helped me realize I wanted to major in biology. I knew I wanted to pursue healthcare, but she made me really love biology. We’ll miss her as an instructor– she’ll forever be known as one of my favorite teachers.”
In addition to teaching her students, Burns also mentioned that she’ll miss working with her colleagues at SCC upon retirement. Living an hour away, Burns voiced that she’s continued to commute to the College almost every day because of the positive, welcoming atmosphere SCC has provided over the past twenty years, making it “the best place” she could be.
She stated of her colleagues, “My coworkers are some of the best people there are. Everyone is so nice and welcoming. The people are friendly, and I know that I am valued. My biology colleagues will always be special to me. We share a common love of science I will definitely be coming back to visit them… and bring them brownies, which they love.”
Jen Eavenson, Division Chair of Arts & Sciences at SCC, has worked closely with Burns over the past twenty years at the College. In a quote, Eavenson stated that Burns has always been a valued employee and team player, meeting challenges with a smile and enthusiasm. Congratulating Burns on her well-deserved retirement, Eavenson offered her well-wishes to her, and expressed that she will be missed by both faculty, staff, and students alike at SCC.
She spoke on behalf of the College Transfer Division, “The news of Mrs. Susie Burns retirement is bittersweet. I am thrilled for her, and she will be missed by our department and students. Mrs. Burns and I have worked together for 20 years. She has an unassuming and calming presence that instantly makes those around her feel at ease. What a gift she has been to the students and faculty she has worked with over the years. For Mrs. Burns, I know that her well-deserved retirement will give her the opportunity to do the things she loves, like work in her garden, and give her time to be with friends and family. I, along with the College Transfer Division, wish her all the very best on her new journey.”
Concerning her upcoming retirement, Burns remarked that she is anticipating the chance to spend more time with her daughter and grandson, whom she currently spends every Saturday with. She’s also excited to continue developing her hobbies of gardening and watercolor painting in her free time as well.
Sampson CC extends its immense gratitude to Susie for all her years of service. The College is grateful she decided to apply back in 2003 and has truly been blessed by her work ever since. She leaves an impact on both faculty, staff, students, and the institution as a whole. SCC wishes her well in all her future endeavors, and thanks her for aiding in the College’s mission for students to, “Begin Here, Go Anywhere.”
For more information about the College Transfer program at SCC, visit www.sampsoncc.edu/college-transfer
About Sampson Community College
Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education. SCC is committed to the principles of equal educational and employment opportunities for all.