FCCLA lauds third state president

Haley Copeland

Strasburg High School junior Haley Copeland has achieve a “very unusual” feat.

The school’s third consecutive Virginia state president for the Family Career and Community Leaders of America, the 17-year-old gives credit to former presidents Laura Taylor, 2013-14, and Alexis Mathias, 2014-15, for helping her get this far.

“I thought in the beginning I wanted the opportunity to pursue this position, but I never thought I was going to get it,” she said.

Strasburg students have been exceeding expectations for years, said FCCLA Advisor Heather Hiserman.

“We have been very, very fortunate to have a lot of successes in that arena,” she said. It certainly helps that students take advantage of the opportunities she presents them, but she also said success tends to build success.

“I think that my kids are very dedicated,” she said. “I think they understand where they can go in FCCLA.”

Opportunities include gaining teamwork skills and career preparation.

“They have the ability to travel, which is something pretty exciting,” Hiserman said.

Laura, who started her state presidency as a sophomore, is nearing the end of her run as national FCCLA president, and Alexis became president as a junior, said Haley.

“Alexis and Laura were so, so helpful throughout the process,” Haley said. “I was very, very lucky to have their support.”

A member of FCCLA since the eighth grade, Haley has attended previous national conferences in San Antonio, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Anaheim, California, and is confident of the expectations of her presidency.

As president, she will preside over state meetings, travel the state advocating for FCCLA and give a welcome speech to 7,000 members at the upcoming national conference in Washington, D.C., this July.

“I’m super excited,” Haley said. “That’s just my favorite part, getting to speak in front of everyone.”

Strasburg’s chapter won Platinum Level Outstanding Chapter at its recent state conference in Virginia Beach, recognizing its diverse and successful program of work.

Haley and teammates Kelsey Jenkins and Miley Hupp won gold medals and a trophy for their Chapter in Review Display. Ineligible to compete now that she’s president, Haley said her teammates plan to present their project at the national conference.

Altogether, 22 members earned eligibility to compete at the national level.

Haley is in the National Honor Society and keeps stats for her varsity volleyball team. Uncertain of her college plans, she said, “I do think I would like to major in public affairs and pursue a career in the FBI Cyber Unit.”

But for now, FCCLA keeps her pretty busy.

To be a state officer, she took a knowledge test and gave a minute-long speech in front of 1,200 members and advisers. She was chosen from 15 applicants, and once elected to the state board, she interviewed for her state position.

Other state officers are from areas including Page County, Culpeper, Stafford, Gate City and Vienna.

“I was very hopeful, and I had a lot of support,” Haley said. “But I knew that it was going to be tough.”

“I’ve experienced so much in a short amount of time,” she said. “[FCCLA has] definitely been the ultimate leadership experience.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com