Cumberland County February 2022


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation
Regional City/Suburban

When we arrived at the Spring Lake Campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College in Cumberland County, dozens of students participating in the EMT and Paramedic program greeted us. Most of these students were active military service members or veterans – groups which make up more than 20 percent of FTCC’s student body.

Located 20 minutes away from Fort Bragg, the institution serves roughly 30,000 students each year. The average age of enrolled students is 27, and people of color make up 65 percent of the student population.

We met with Dr. Mark Sorrells, Senior Vice President for Academic & Student Services, for a tour of campus. Current students enrolled in the paramedic program, under the guidance of faculty members William Lehmann and Billy Eldridge, treated us to a demonstration. At the time of our tour, students Chancy Turner and Kaush Kancharla were two weeks away from completing the 20-week program designed to help military service members access civilian employment. They came to the program while serving in the National Guard. Both heard of the program by word of mouth and are not native North Carolinians.

Next, we traveled to Fayetteville State University, where we met with Darrell Allison, Chancellor of Fayetteville State University, and other members of the administrative team to learn about upcoming construction projects on campus.

Founded in 1867, Fayetteville State University (FSU) is the second oldest public university in North Carolina; only UNC-Chapel Hill is older. According to Chancellor Allison, FSU is the only UNC system school without a student health and wellness center equipped to serve the entire campus. The pandemic has highlighted the need to prioritize health and wellness as part of the student experience, especially at HBCUs. In partnership with the city, the university is tearing down an old residential hall to create a new health and wellness facility that will serve both FSU students and local Fayetteville residents.

FSU hosts an innovative pain management and alternative medicine facility. We toured the site with Dr. Afua Arhin, Dean of the College of Health, Science and Technology. The program provides a place for students enrolled in social work and nursing programs to interact with each other while they gain hands-on experience treating patients. According to Dr. Arhin, it gives students a sense of holistic health care, and its model has been so successful that it inspired the local Veterans Affairs hospital. Despite its success, the program has had to limit its reach due to the expiration of grant funding.

During lunch at the main campus of Fayetteville Tech Community College, Dr. Larry Keen, the President of FTCC, addressed the importance of access to education and partnerships with Fayetteville State University, Fort Bragg, and Cape Fear Valley Health.

As our time at Fayetteville Tech wrapped up, Dr. Keen asked Tunde to address the guests. “How can Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina be part of the solution?” Tunde asked. “If you don’t understand what the problem is, how can you be part of the solution?

U39702, 12/22