With another successful commencement behind us, recent High Point University graduates are preparing to commence prestigious career paths around the world at Fortune 500 companies, international service programs, public school systems, top-tier law, medical and graduate school programs, and many other esteemed organizations thanks to their journey at HPU. Here’s a glimpse of one extraordinary senior from the Class of 2016:
Name: Thomas Lyons
Hometown: Pompton Plains, New Jersey
Major: Lyons graduated with a B.A. in Music, with a concentration in Voice, on May 7.
Post-graduation plans: Lyons will pursue a master’s degree in Church Music at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio.
How HPU helped you get there: “I transfered to HPU two years ago. I was on a choir tour in London, England where I met a faculty member. I had taken a break from my studies and he saw that I was not done. I came for a visit and realized that High Point was the fit for me both academically and creatively. My time at High Point University has opened doors in my life that I once thought were impossible when I took my break from education.“
Most impactful mentor at HPU: “Without a doubt, Dr. Marc Ashley Foster, Chair of the Department of Music, is my most impactful mentor. From day one, he encouraged me to be who I am and embrace the path of life I wanted to walk down. He is not only a mentor, but a friend, colleague, and father figure in my life. His door has always been open to my trials and tribulations. I am eternally grateful for our paths crossing. Long after I am gone from High Point, I know I can reach out and connect with Dr. Foster about anything.”
Most impactful moment at HPU: “During my time at HPU, there have been so many experiences that were impactful. There are two that are worth sharing. Both are with the HPU Chamber Singers. Every year, we tour around the U.S. and present concerts to high schoolers and church communities. The first is from this past year’s tour. We made a stop in Burnsville, North Carolina. There we met an alumni from High Point College from 1952. The gentleman, Mr. Wampler, was so excited to see that his home college/university choir was coming to visit his small mountain town. He wore his High Point hat all day, and even had his wife wear purple to show their Panther Pride. After we performed the concert, we asked Mr. Wampler on stage and took a picture with him. It was so impactful to see how our music was able to rejuvenate the spirit of an alumnus.
The second event was on last year’s tour. We stopped in Valdosta, Georgia. There, our music brought the congregation and choir to tears. We performed a piece that highlighted the words found etched into the wall of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The words read: I believe in the Sun, even when it is not Shining. I believe in love, even when I can’t feel it. I believe in God, even when He is silent.
There was something that just moved us all in that small church. We came to find out that an elderly couple in the first row were able to escape from the concentration camp and knew of the words. As they wept in the first row, the choir wept with them through song. It was such an impactful moment that will always be with me. It is something Dr. Foster teaches in choir: We present our music to others to change and transform the lives of ourselves and others. This experience definitely did both.”
Advice for underclassmen: “Always remember your major! So many times, I have found myself struggling to come up with how to write a paper or work on a project for class. I would recommend to look back to your home major and make connections with what you know and how it can connect with your projects.“