Every detail designed with the student in mind.
The air is crisp on this blue-sky day, and Hannah Rowell has found a moment to break away from her studies and settle into the grass on the Kester International Promenade.
Fall leaves swirl around its brick pathways lined with flags that represent students’ home countries. Some of history’s most famous leaders have taken up residence here in the form of bronze sculptures: Amelia Earhart, Gandhi, Beethoven and others.
There’s classical music flowing up and down this central stretch of campus that Rowell loves — an outdoor meeting place where students and faculty catch up on their way to classes and meetings. And if she had to sum it all up in a few words, it would be this:
An inspiring home.
Home was once a different concept to Rowell. She was born in Alabama to a military family but frequently moved because of her father’s career as a helicopter pilot.
“People would ask me where I was from, and I wouldn’t know what to say,” she says. “Every time we left a place, I would wonder if they’d remember me after I was gone.”
Then Rowell found High Point University — a place that offered the study abroad, experiential learning and academic opportunities she wanted — and more.
“Here, I don’t wonder about that,” says Rowell, now a senior at HPU. “After I graduate, I know there are people on this campus who care about me and will remember me.”
A Distinctive Environment
Today, Rowell knows where home is. It’s a place, but also a sense of belonging to a family she discovered nearly four years ago when she first visited HPU.
DJ Hargrave felt it, too.
Hargrave is a North Carolina native who grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a neighboring city to High Point.
He was a high school senior when he drove to campus with his mom to experience HPU — a place he heard was constantly growing and changing. They pulled up to their designated parking space, and Hargrave saw something he’d never seen before.
His name was spelled in lights on a welcome sign.
“I fell in love the moment I saw my name on the screen,” Hargrave, now a junior, remembers. “It started this personal element that’s grown throughout my experience here. I knew I would be paid attention to and engaged.”
A.J. DiRosa traveled from Easton, Pennsylvania, to visit schools in the South, and he visited plenty. But he knew the moment he stepped onto campus — HPU was the place for him.
“I had heard people say, ‘You’ll know when you find the right college. You’ll just feel it,’” DiRosa, a junior, says.
“I didn’t believe that, but then that happened when I came to HPU. For me, it was the fact that everyone was friendly and wanted to be here. The environment inspired happiness in them.”
These experiences stem from a campus HPU has intentionally created for its students. It’s physical in nature — the clean and well-kept grounds, facilities that mimic Silicon Valley and Wall Street, and collaborative spaces with open seating and whiteboard walls that encourage them to connect.
The beauty on HPU’s campus can’t go unnoticed; it’s an environment that’s visually different.
But underneath are layers to a promise — one that faculty and staff strive to deliver to every student, every day.
When the HPU campus began to transform 12 years ago under the leadership of Dr. Nido Qubein, university president, it didn’t just get bigger, though it has quadrupled in size.
It became more student focused, with each element begging a fundamental question.
How does this benefit our students?
The answers to that question built an experiential campus — one that embodies learning both inside and outside of the classroom. It emboldens students to get out of their comfort zone and talk to a new face, ask questions as they pass the sculpture of Aristotle or network with major companies who set up shop for career expos inside Cottrell Hall.
That’s what happened for DiRosa. As a freshman, he spent time learning inside Wilson School of Commerce, a facility that includes a live stock ticker, board room and grand lobby — the kind he’ll find inside the major corporations he wants to work for someday.
During his sophomore year, a sales major and minor launched inside a brand new home called Cottrell Hall.
Inside, it reflects the transparent workspaces of today’s most innovative companies.
It’s where DiRosa and members of the newly founded Selling Club had their very own career expo with dozens of employers coming to find students with sales skills.
“I was offered two internships — one in Florida and one in Wisconsin — at the expo,” he says. “Resources like that are the biggest asset of HPU.”
Being exposed to these resources sparks change in students throughout their four years. They arrive as freshmen with a network of support — success coaches who guide them holistically; peer mentors who guide them socially; and peer navigators who share their academic major and extend wisdom from someone who’s been there and done that.
For Hargrave, the abundance of opportunities continued the one-on-one attention that first drew him here. There was always someone with whom he could connect or collaborate.
“Something is always happening that helps me find myself and figure out who I am,” Hargrave, who studies strategic communication, says. “I’ve joined the Entrepreneurship Club, I’ve started my own club and I’ve changed my major. Now I’m in the Toastmaster’s Club, and that has been so good for me. I’ve had the opportunity for self-discovery.”
Classes are experiential even during their freshman year, with at least 25 percent focused on out-of-class learning experiences, and students find that their mentorship from faculty is key in forming it all into a plan for their future.
“The dedication of the faculty is something I’ll never forget,” DiRosa says. “They make sure I’m learning, but also that I’m retaining information and applying it at the same time. They go above and beyond their class schedules and office hours.”
Students rise to sophomore and junior years and start digging into things that stretch and challenge their comfort zones — like studying in another country.
Rowell did that. She went to Italy during the spring semester of her junior year, thanks to a program pioneered by HPU’s School of Art and Design. It encourages HPU students to study at the Lorenzo de Medici International Institute in Florence where they earn international certificates.
Her professor also connected her with an internship in the furniture industry. And in the fall, she was honored by the International Furniture Design Association with the “Rising Star” award that’s presented to top students in 11 design programs across the South.
She graduates in May with a stellar resume, along with a home she wasn’t expecting to find on a college campus.
“This place is a total package,” she says. “Yes, it’s beautiful, but it’s up to you to utilize what’s here. It’s about what you’re willing to learn from it.”
They leave mentored but challenged. Prepared but thirsty for continual growth. Ready yet open to change — just like their campus.
“Being able to say you live and study at a place that cares about what they’re doing and how everything comes together for their students is important,” Rowell says. “I wouldn’t want to be somewhere that didn’t care as much as High Point University.”