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: Leigh Thomas
Hometown: Greenwich, Connecticut
Post-graduation plans: Thomas accepted a position as a Stylist at POLO Ralph Lauren in New York City. In her position within the women’s department at the company’s flagship store on 5th Avenue in NYC, Thomas will provide an exceptional customer experience, establish a client base and generate sales.
How HPU helped you get there: “HPU allowed me the opportunity to discover who I am and what I am made of. College is challenging for anyone, and there are times when you need to take a step back to gain a new perspective. Wednesday night Chapel services were what really shaped me during my time at HPU. I didn’t start attending Chapel regularly until the beginning of my junior year. I found myself at a crossroads where my path was unclear. One night, in late October, when I felt like I was in over my head, I wandered into the Chapel right as a service was starting. The words of Rev. Preston Davis, Minister to the University, really moved me, specifically when he said, ‘When did you ever cry for God in light? You cry for God in the dark night of your soul. You cry for God when you have any army behind you, a sea ahead of you, and you don’t know where you’re going.’ Those words did many things for me, but in that moment, I realized that no matter what path I walked, God was always going to be with me. Even when I was pursuing this opportunity at the POLO Ralph Lauren Flagship, I had to understand that God had laid a new path for me to walk, which helped me see a new, exciting perspective of my career.“
Most impactful mentor at HPU: “I have had many mentors at HPU that makes it impossible for me to recognize just one! Dr. Nido Qubein enabled me to spread my wings to soar over the highest mountains and through the toughest storms. Dr. Jacob Paul, my English professor for three years, continues to be a mentor to me. During my last semester, I frequently visited his office to discuss a book I had been writing, and he has been incredibly supportive in helping me pursue my dream of becoming a published author. Rev. Preston Davis has been a role model to me through his leadership, compassion and humility. I have been so fortunate to learn about faith and life from him. Last, but never least, is Prof. Larry Quinn. I had the opportunity to take his Sales and Professional Development course and it changed my life! During the process of interviewing at POLO Ralph Lauren, I consistently reached out to him for advice, input and encouragement. He was one of the first people I called after I accepted my job offer, and hearing how proud he was of me goes to show that HPU truly is a place full of caring people.”
Most impactful moment at HPU: “I have many fond memories at HPU, but I would have to say my most impactful moment is when I saw the bench on the Promenade that my parents had dedicated to me. It was just two days before graduation, rainy, windy and cold, and my parents wanted to take a walk down the Promenade. I thought they were out of their minds! Enduring the rain, wind and chilly temperature, we made our way down the Promenade. It was just after we walked by Gandhi’s bench my name on the plaque of a bench in front of Finch had caught my eye. My parents looked at me and shouted, ‘Surprise!’ I was in disbelief! Once I read the quote on the plaque, ‘Right here, right now, God has placed you to do what you do best. Go all the way.’, I realized this bench had a greater purpose than simply being a place for people to sit. The way I see it, the quote on this bench serves a pillar to remind all that they too can go on to do wonderful things in their lives.”
Advice for underclassmen: “As my commencement speaker, Dr. Condoleezza Rice said, ‘When you find your passion, it is yours. Not what someone else thinks it should be.’ I would tell underclassmen to follow their passion, no matter what it is, because it is so important to enjoy what you do in your career and beyond. I would also say this, don’t be someone you want to be; be someone you want to become. It was only after I had walked across the stage at my graduation that I realized four years ago I came to HPU with the idea of who I wanted to be, but little did I know, I would become someone more than I thought I could be. That’s the special thing about HPU, you have the opportunity to lose yourself to find yourself.“