When the weather warms and students shed coats for T-shirts and shorts, Sarah Field finds her favorite study spot: the balcony outside the Learning Commons at the R.G. Wanek Center.
She’ll stay there for two, three, four hours, maybe more.
She’ll look up from her books, notes and flash cards, and with the panoramic view of HPU spilling out in front of her, she’ll think about where’s she’s going and where she’s been.
In four years, she has accomplished much. She entered HPU as a Presidential Scholar. She’ll leave as a graduate who made the Dean’s List every semester, captained HPU’s club volleyball team for women and served as the school’s Attorney General, HPU’s lead hearing officer.
Today, Field has another accolade: HPU’s Extraordinary Leader for March.
In two months, Field will graduate with a double major in chemistry and criminal justice. She’s eyeing law school. But as she studies for the law school entrance exam, she’ll live in Houston and work with children.
She’ll be beside a minister she calls “Mrs. Kathy.”
Field met Kathy Baden at her home church in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Baden led the children ministry. Over the years, Baden became Field’s second mother, her own Esther, the Biblical heroine who epitomizes strong will and wisdom.
But Field also is a lot like Esther. She is a Converse-wearing, puzzle-loving senior who discovered her own inner strength at High Point University. It surprised her. But she had help.
It started with her grandfather.
The Lessons from Grampy Camp
Almost everyone called Eugene Field “Duff” – except for Field. She called him Grampy; he called her Sash.
Her grandparents lived on Lake Hartwell in northeast Georgia, and one week every summer, Field and her little brother, Michael, went to what they called Grampy Camp.
Her grandfather, a retired high school shop teacher, would have Field and her brother build boats out of pool noodles and go-karts out of wood.
When he could, he would drive three hours to Fort Mill to see his granddaughter swim or play volleyball. Always, he’d sit close enough so she could hear him yell: “Way to go, Sash!”
Field grew up being busy. She swam backstroke, played volleyball, sang in musicals and loved tackling 1,000-piece puzzles. She also helped her dad coach a Special Olympics ski team. Yet, when she came to HPU, she had this fear of jumping into campus life.
So, she held back. But not for long.
Differentiation Leads to Discovery
In her dorm room, Field has this quote from the late George Addair, a motivational speaker: “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”
Field believes that.
“Before I came to college, I wasn’t the one to sign up for any opportunity,” she says. “I’d do it sometimes, but I was always afraid of what people might say. But that quote reminds me that when I look past my fear, I can see the end goal.
“That is cultivated here. The mindset is that people want everyone to succeed, they want you to do something extraordinary, they want you to be different. They’ve shown me that opportunities can come to you as long as you step out.”
And Field has stepped out.
She is a member of HPU’s Honors Program; Alpha Phi Sigma, a criminal justice honor society; and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Last year, she received a $500 scholarship from HPU’s chemistry department because of her grades and promising future.
So, her time on the Learning Commons’ balcony has paid off. But so has her time on her living-room couch back home. After school, she’d sit there with her mom watching “NCIS” and saying, “Oh, I know who did it!”
“NCIS” got her interested in law. At HPU, Field acted on it. As a junior, Field became a Student Justice. That same year, she was selected as Attorney General. By the year’s end, the Office of Student Life picked Field as Justice of the Year.
For Field, being AG for HPU has unveiled a different side of campus life. But like her time helping her dad with the Special Olympics ski team, Field found her time as Attorney General helped her become more empathetic.
She saw students make tough mistakes. But she also saw the court as a chance for students to change for the better.
“That is eye-opening for them,” she says. “They realize, ‘I do need to grow up.’”
The other quote in Field’s dorm room comes from writer Mark Twain: “Sail away from the safe harbor. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
This summer, she’ll do just that.
She’ll become a director in the children’s ministry at Baden’s large church in Houston. She’ll study for the LSATs, and of course, wear one of her favorites: her white Converse high-tops with her blue monogrammed initials stitched on the side.
Field’s future is bright. HPU helped her find it. So did her grandfather. He died in November. He was 75. She still remembers what he told her more than a few years ago.
“Sash, I am so proud of you,” he’d tell her. “You can do so many amazing things.”
She has. And she will.