HPU Students Partner with the Community to Tell the Story of Burns Hill

High Point University students in Dr. Cara Kozma’s English service-learning course compiled a book, documenting the rich history of High Point’s Burns Hill neighborhood, and presented it to community members virtually on May 4.


HIGH POINT, N.C., May 4, 2020 – High Point University students in Dr. Cara Kozma’s English service-learning course spent the spring semester interviewing community members in High Point’s historic Burns Hill neighborhood to compile a book, documenting the neighborhood’s rich history.

The book, titled, “The Voices of Burns Hill,” shares first-hand stories and memories from 15 individuals, who are all connected through the Burns Hill neighborhood. The book is a new edition in a series of books that have been produced in collaboration with HPU students in the Community Writing English course and follows the same format as “The Voices of Washington Street.”

“The story of this neighborhood and other stories have played an integral role in shaping who I am, and it is an honor to tell the story,” said Rev. Reginald Keitt, pastor of St. Stephen AME Zion Church. “The past helps us to understand the present and uncover opportunities for the future. Our neighborhood theme song says, ‘The worst we can do is stand by and do nothing,’ and I believe this book will showcase how we have taken this to heart to bring change to our community.”

Each student was partnered with a community member connected to the Burns Hill neighborhood and produced a chapter for the book based on the interviews conducted.

“Rev. Keitt and members of St. Stephen AME Zion Church have been wonderful partners this semester,” said Kozma. “They connected students with community members for interviews, and we held several class sessions at the church prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Due to COVID-19, the students completed final assignments virtually, speaking with community members through the drafting and editing process. The students then presented the book to community members virtually on May 1.

“While we deeply missed the opportunity to continue interacting in person, we are so appreciative of the time we had with these individuals,” said Kozma. “We are fortunate that technology provided us ways to complete the project and produce a high-quality product.”

“As a High Point native and HPU student, this project combined two communities I am a part of,” said Makenzie Harrington, a rising junior majoring in education. “I am excited to bring awareness to all of the change that has happened in the Burns Hill neighborhood and grateful for the opportunity to serve my home – the High Point community.”

When the editorial process is complete, the book will be on permanent display at the High Point Library in the Heritage Resource Center.

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