Cindy Vallar had just moved from California to Ohio and started her new executive role with Nestle when she first heard about High Point University.
A co-worker went on and on about how his son loved attending HPU. He recommended Vallar check out the school for her stepdaughter, Victoria Binder, who stayed back home to finish high school outside San Francisco.
Vallar had a quick answer: No way.
“She will never go to school in North Carolina,” Vallar told him. “She lives in California!”
Her co-worker urged her to see for herself. So, Vallar and Binder went.
Afterward, Vallar sent her co-worker a text.
“You were absolutely right,” she wrote.
HPU excited Binder. HPU excited Vallar, too.
She found a university that would nurture her step-daughter in all aspects of life. Because of that, Vallar believed the quiet, shy girl she had known for nearly 20 years would find direction — and find herself.
That has happened.
Binder is now Victoria Hensley. She’s 25 and a 2015 HPU graduate working in High Point with a local nonprofit that is turning vacant lots into urban farms to help feed local residents, build trust and generate extra income for those who need it.Hensley is the urban farm facilitator for From The Ground Up. Last fall, a month after marrying her college sweet-heart, Hensley was honored by her alma mater as one of 10 alumni making a difference after graduating less than a decade from the university.
“I joke with Victoria that I hardly ever saw the president of my school,” says Vallar, now retired from Nestle. “But what amazes me is how Dr. Nido Qubein makes himself so available to students. He is so committed to making the university better and the students better.
“It’s not just words on paper. You hear it and see it every day.”