Becky Irons calls herself a “Pony.” As her friends say, “Once a pony, always a pony.”
She’s been a member of HPU’s improv group, Charcoal Pony, since her sophomore year. Today, she’s the group’s vice president. Not a week or so goes by when someone stops her and asks, “When’s your next show?”
She loves the spontaneity of comedy, of standing in front of an audience, hearing some phrase or sentence and creating a scene on the fly. The group performs six shows a semester, and she sees it as the most rewarding risk she has taken so far in her life.
But Irons thrives on creativity. She loves writing poetry, playing the flute in three different university groups and recruiting students for HPU’s Volunteer Center.
She writes important study points on flash cards and takes important notes always in green ink. She’s a Presidential Scholar who has been named to the Dean’s List every semester, and she has earned membership in four different honor societies.
So, it surprises no one that Irons was named HPU’s Extraordinary Leader for December.
But the surprise is how she got there. This 21-year-old senior from small-town North Carolina was once a freshman who never left her room and didn’t talk hardly at all in class.
What changed? Irons has an idea.
Confidence Found, Passion Blossoms
It was a gradual thing.
Irons kept to herself when she was a freshmen in McEwen Hall. But then, she discovered Charcoal Pony, and thanks to an energetic resident assistant, she found out about the HPU Volunteer Center.
She and her dad taught Sunday School to pre-K students and first-graders at their Methodist church. So, this kind of service came naturally to her. And she stuck with it.
Last spring, she became the group’s president. She organizes the four campus blood drives and the fall and spring carnival for students at nearby Montlieu Elementary. She also assists with the alternative fall and spring breaks for her peers to volunteer far from campus.
The job tests her management skills. But she learned how to delegate, handle stress and connect effectively with student volunteers, faculty and campus officials.
In doing so, she has merged her circles of her HPU community. There’s no better example of that than A Cappella Jam and Jelly.
She was one of two student representatives on HPU’s 13-member Cultural Programming Committee, and in April, 20 students from High Point’s Penn-Griffin School of the Arts came to school to be tutored by a cappella singers at HPU.
That night, they performed at Phillips Auditorium and asked concertgoers to bring canned food – and peanut butter and jelly – to help High Point organizations feed local families.
Irons helped put that together. Creativity is nothing new to her.
She plays flute for the University Band, the Pep Band and the Flute Ensemble. She’s a Pony. So, she knows what it means when her fellow Ponies shout from the stage – “3,2,1. Ride it!” And she has written for HPU’s Apogee magazine.
She is a right-brainer.
“I had the confidence to put myself out there, and it has been such an expanding experience,” she says. “My world used to be very, very tiny, and now, I’ve gotten to know all these other people, and it’s made me more aware that just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean you’re not outgoing and not able to have some fun.”
HPU helped make that happen.
“At HPU, I’ve had all these opportunities, and it’s been incredible,” she says. “If I came back for another four years, there are things I could do on campus that I didn’t do before, and that’s great.
“You choose what you’re passionate about. You have four years to figure that out.”
Believing In Becky
Irons used to write poetry because she didn’t talk to anyone. But that’s not the case anymore. She writes poetry because it’s short, freeing and helps her easily access emotion.
She writes poetry on her phone and in various notebooks. And she has her share of notebooks – one by her bed, one on her desk, one in her backpack and a moleskine in her purse.
In the spring edition of Apogee magazine, she has a lyric essay and two poems. All three deal with music. One includes this verse:
If I sing
a song or songs
for you from me for us for we
your muse will dance
and dance and sing
a song and dance of music.
“Math is fine, but math is not fun,” says Irons, an English major from Harrisburg, North Carolina, who has a minor in music and marketing. “But creativity, that is the freedom of the mind. You can do anything if you think hard enough, if you imagine.”
Irons does. She discovered that at HPU.