For Matt Warrick, it happened by chance.
He was walking between classes when he ran into the Rev. Preston Davis, the campus minister. Like always, they talked. But this time, they talked about what keeps Warrick’s mind always busy – the intellectual intersection of science and spirituality.
Warrick shared with Rev. Davis one of his favorite quotes by Francis Collins, a Christian, a former atheist and a pioneering medical geneticist who once headed the Human Genome Project.
“The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome,” Collins once said. “He can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory.”
From that quote sprang the idea of a weekly discussion last spring about Collins’ book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.”
Warrick promoted the program by posting more than two dozen fliers around Congdon Hall, his academic home. At least two dozen students and faculty came.
“It reminds me of something someone said to me once, ‘Science is the process of thinking God’s thoughts after he has already thought them,’” he says. “I think that is something naturally in my heart.”
Warrick has been selected as HPU’s Extraordinary Leader for the month of September.
He does have an intellectually adventurous spirit. But that’s not all.
The Marriage of Science and Faith
Warrick, a senior biology major, is a Presidential Scholar and a member of three honor societies as well as Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.
For the past three years, he has worked as a University Ambassador giving tours to prospective students and their families. He also has helped his Class of 2017 bring animals on campus to help students relax during exam time.
And those animals include a miniature horse named Little Sebastian, his favorite.
He’s become a leader with College Life, and he’s led prayer during chapel services and helped Davis create the weekly program about science, faith and “The Language of God.”
“I see Matt as a seeker of truth, someone who is thoughtful and open-minded, and in our divided world today, let us foster more students like that,” Davis says.
Warrick is a religion minor. That comes as no surprise. But why biology? Warrick has always loved science.
At HPU, he joined Dr. Heather Miller to help her research ways into fighting HIV. Miller, an assistant professor of chemistry, had started her research while getting her doctorate at Duke University.
Warrick will graduate in May, and he plans to enroll in pharmacy school. He wants to focus on research that will help cure diseases and do medical mission work in countries where people struggle to stay healthy.
“We’re put on this earth to worship God, our creator, and interact with others, serve others and serve God as well,” Warrick says. “I think it’s cool to use your talents in this way.”
Warrick’s Seeds of Giving
Warrick grew up 30 minutes south from campus in the small town of Lexington, and his spiritual focal point was a non-denominational church that his maternal grandfather, a Vietnam War veteran, helped start.
He and his family went every Sunday, and they sat in the same pew with at one time four generations of his family. They all live 10 minutes from one another, and his mom’s descendants have called that area home since the Civil War.
Warrick is the oldest of two, the only son of an IT dad and an accountant mom. He worked summers in his grandfather’s hardware store. The rest of the time, his life revolved around swimming.
He practiced all the time. He swam for his high school, a team in Winston-Salem and a local community pool his grandfather helped build.
His swim life left little time for anything else. In high school, Warrick never got involved with student government, and the only Christian outreach he did was singing with church members at local nursing homes.
But that changed when he came to HPU.
He also joined College Life, got involved with chapel and participated in a project where students hand-wrote every book in the Bible.
Warrick tackled two books in the Old Testament, part of Psalms and First Samuel, and he transcribed it all in longhand on lined paper. It took him nearly three weeks.
Meanwhile, he stuffed stockings for local children at Christmas and helped prepare and package meals for the needy nearby and raised money to feed the destitute worldwide.
“I grew up knowing,” Warrick says, “that you had to help the next person in line.”
HPU’s True Treasures
Every Thursday, right before midnight, Warrick travels a few minutes from campus for a biscuit burger at Waffle House.
He started it with three friends. Now, he brings a crowd of at least 30. They’re all from College Life, and when they walk in, they look for a waitress they’ve come to know.
Rachel Lee. But she’s known by another name.
“Hey, Momma!” Warrick shouts.
She smiles. She already has their drink orders waiting for them at their tables.
“Hey, kids!” she responds.
At HPU, Warrick has discovered a large circle of friends who do much together – worship, travel, eat and dance in a wood-paneled room wearing the tackiest clothes they can find.
Warrick and his friends have a name for their house, the WPP, or the Wood Paneled Palace. They also have a name for their weekly trip to the Waffle House near campus.
The Thursday Night WaHo.
There, Warrick will see Momma and his friends.
But in those moments, he also sees something more.
“I’ve had really good friends in high school, and I thought they would be the best friends I’d ever had,” he says. “But here at High Point, I’ve found people I can share everything with, and they love you just the same.”