This week we chat with Durant High School graduate Charlie McBurney, who learned at an early age he was dyslexic. McBurney has found success despite his learning disability and plans to pay it forward. When McBurney’s second-grade teacher noticed him struggling to read, he learned he had dyslexia. His parents made it clear to him that he would have to work harder but the condition would not limit his success. With the encouragement of his fifth grade teacher at Pinecrest Elementary School he began to love learning. At Durant, he took honors classes, completed nine Advanced Placement courses and graduated in the top 5 percent of his class. McBurney was a competitive swimmer and a member of the National Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Today he is a freshman at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC on a full scholarship, double majoring in international business and human and community service.
1. How did you decide to double major in international business and human and community service? Since middle school I have known that I wanted to help people. I believe that having the combination of international business and human and community service will give me the practical knowledge and experience needed to be able to have more of a global impact. 2. What do you hope to do with that education? Once I graduate I want to work with Americorps for a year then and get my master’s in public administration. I plan to work at not-for-profit organizations and eventually open and run one of my own. 3. What was your early experience with public service and why work that in to your future? I have been participating in community service since I was in middle school, but it was not until high school that I found my passion. I used to swim for the Brandon Blue Waves at Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center. Due to a shoulder injury I was not able to swim anymore. I started volunteering as a swim coach, then became a registered USA swim coach and camp counselor. It reinforced my desire to work in this field. 4. What do you like most about attending Lenoir-Rhyne University? My favorite part is how personal it is. I do not have any classes that have more than 20 students in them. I know all of my professors really well. At Lenoir-Rhyne I am not a number, I am a fellow lover of academia. 5. So, you are dyslexic and work with dyslexic children. How can you help them? Going through elementary school was extremely hard for me. I had no idea why I was so different. There was no school program that fit my needs, but thankfully I had access to outside help with tutoring. The Eye-to-Eye (tutoring program) allows me to go into a school and work with a student directly, building a relationship with the student as we create art projects that encourage them to be themselves and accommodate their learning disability.