Heroes, Models and Mentors

This story is featured in the Fall 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine. Mentorship is an cherished educational value at HPU. Discover below how students are impacted by their HPU mentors. 

It’s the knock on the door.

Dr. Jenny Lukow looked forward to hearing the “tap taps” from Mikaela Campbell as they worked toward Campbell’s job offer from the NBA.

It’s the handshake.

When Steven Dick grasped the hand of his future employer at a Sales Career Fair held on campus, he realized how much his professors had prepared him.

It’s the white board filled with pros and cons.

Rebecca Ulrich and Dr. Meghan Blackledge spent hours poring over the options for Ulrich’s future, which included seven different graduate schools and the prestigious NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program.

It’s the encouraging email from a Silicon Valley veteran.

Jenna Tarantino lit up when she saw the note from Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph, HPU’s Entrepreneur in Residence.

It’s a congratulatory text message or phone call, a high-five on graduation day and a drawer filled with thank-you letters in HPU President Nido Qubein’s office.

“HPU gave my daughters the education and inspiration to reach for the stars,” wrote Cindy Vincent, the mother of alumna Kristen Vincent, now completing her optometry residency, and Katelyn Vincent, now completing her dental residency. “They still talk about the wonderful professors they became close to who encouraged them to be successful in life.”

Mentorship takes many forms. It happens everywhere on High Point University’s campus — from a professor who takes a phone call on vacation to guide her student through a major life decision, to another who encourages his research group to run the experiment one more time after a late night in the lab.

Real-World Ready

Junior Hannah Le and Professor Victoria Brown share a life philosophy: It’s always best to start early.

At HPU, Brown helps Le do that.

On a day in High Point bustling like New York City, Le was one of the first faces industry professionals saw when they walked into the Bernhardt Design showroom.

It was the beginning of High Point Market, a furniture trade show that attracts 75,000 people to downtown High Point twice each year. Le was just a sophomore then, but she was amazed by the professional connections and sales experience she was gaining.

Brown and the faculty in the School of Art and Design had prepared Le to thrive there.

“Our professors give us business cards, presentation opportunities and internships like these,” says Le. “We are able to experience things that we couldn’t anywhere else.”

Today, Le is a junior and a visual merchandising major. Her resume includes her work for Bernhardt Design, as well as Madeval USA and Sagebrook Home. She’s
also built a substantial portfolio filled with digital renderings, AutoCAD drawings and space planning demonstrations.

In a sea of opportunity, Brown has been Le’s anchor.

“Professor Brown has helped me so much with my degree plan,” says Le, from Sugarland, Texas. “She has always advised me to get a hard start on all of my goals. That’s a rule I live by, whether it be projects or studying for tests. I am very much the type of person who needs the next five years laid out for peace of mind. She is very understanding and relatable, always making me feel more comfortable when I have a question.”

It makes sense — Brown has worked as a visual merchandiser like Le will someday. She knows the industry and studies consumer behavior to determine the “why” and “how” of what people buy.

“She is so knowledgeable about the degree I want to pursue,” says Le. “It really helps to hear her opinions and receive her guidance when I’m unsure.”

Le has filled her class schedule with courses taught by Brown over her next two years at HPU. She knows she’ll continue to benefit from Brown’s wisdom and willingness to serve as her mentor.

“I love that Professor Brown only has a small group of advisees at HPU like all faculty members, and I appreciate that she specializes in my interest,” says Le. “She has really taken the time to get to know and care about me.”

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Helping Students Stand Out

There was only one internship like it in the country, but Rebecca Colwell wanted the opportunity. Her professors helped her land it.

It all started in a class Colwell took with Dr. Christine Cugliari. Called “Nonprofit Organizations and the Voluntary Sector,” the class exposes students to how nonprofits operate, as well as the intrinsic career opportunities available in the field.

It showed Colwell that nonprofit management was the right major for her.

“It may have been the most important class in my academic career,” says Colwell, from West Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Already, she’d declared a music major. But with support from faculty in both departments, she added a second.  And because an internship is a required component for all nonprofit management majors, she had to balance that, too.

After doing her research, Colwell wanted to intern at the Ronald McDonald House. The organization only offers one paid internship in the country. It’s a volunteer management intern position at the organization’s New York City
location, and it’s competitive.

There was a lot of prep that went into Colwell’s application, resume and interview practice. Cugliari, an associate professor of nonprofit management, helped Colwell with the process. So did others, including the Office of Career and Professional Development, which strengthened her resume and cover letter.

Colwell got the internship, and a lot of experience, too.

She learned about fundraising through the Ronald McDonald House of New York’s Annual Heroes Volunteer Event, which raised more than half a million dollars to benefit the volunteer programs. She also monitored an online silent auction and worked with the volunteer department on a variety of tasks, including event preparation and developing guidelines for future volunteers.

Additionally, Colwell gained valuable career experience by working in Raiser’s Edge, a database system used by many fundraising organizations.

The internship and the guidance of Cugliari prepared Colwell with not only relevant skills, but a framework by which to live her life.

“Dr. Cugliari helped me understand the importance of being passionate and dedicated to the things I wish to accomplish in order to make them happen,” Colwell says. “She has been extremely supportive of my academic decisions and goals from the very beginning and helped me achieve them.”

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The Caring Coach

Businessman. Leader. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. Friend. President.

Dr. Nido Qubein has successfully served in many roles throughout his life.

But his most fulfilling role is being a mentor.

Throughout his career, he’s been a speaker and consultant to major corporations that invite him to share his wisdom and experience with their employees. Even today, he continues to serve on three national boards.

When he leads the President’s Seminar on Life Skills, he shares that same level of expertise with HPU freshmen.

Sometimes he focuses on the “rule of thirds” – investing one-third of his life in earning, one-third in learning and one-third in serving. This, he tells students, allowed him to find both success and significance.

Sometimes he shares the importance of patriotism. He came to America from the Middle East when he was just a teenager.

“And I’ve never forgotten to appreciate the opportunities this country has provided me,” he says.

Other times, he dives deep into financial literacy, persuasive public speaking or the art of negotiating.

Students leave informed and inspired. His life’s work sets the stage for their next four years at HPU. He knows that if students can gain the level of life skills in college that would otherwise take years of experience to amass in the real world, they will stand out. And they will thrive.

Cameron Kimball, ’18, remembers the seminar well.

“The most impactful moment at HPU for me was going to my first President’s Seminar,” says Kimball, a sales development representative at QuotaFactory in Massachusetts. “I never thought I would see, let alone talk, to the president of the university I went to. That all changed when I found out I would be listening to Dr. Qubein for the first semester of my freshman year. I took away many life lessons from his seminars that are still helpful now.”

But Qubein also understands the importance of serving as a role model for students in every aspect of his life.

That’s why students see him waving hello to others on campus, picking up a stray piece of paper in the grass, having lunch with students in the Slane Center Cafeteria and passing out chocolate every Valentine’s Day.

“We live, they watch and they learn,” he reminds faculty and staff.

His actions exemplify the HPU culture. But culture, by definition, is the behaviors and beliefs shared by a group of people, like those who comprise HPU’s campus. And students learn from that.

Perhaps Chloe Tyler, ’18, who hails from New London, New Hampshire, and now works as an elementary school teacher in Winston Salem, North Carolina, described it best upon graduating last May when she said:

“Everyone at HPU shaped me into the conscientious, hardworking and prideful person I am as a graduate. I was taught to be appreciative by the Hospitality Team, prompt by Campus Enhancement, compassionate by the Office of Student Life, courteous by my roommates, meticulous by my professors, creative by my choir director, spiritual by the Chapel and Religious Life team, loyal by my fellow alumni, extraordinary by Nido Qubein and proud by the campus I grew up on.”


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Championing Career Success

On a table inside Dr. Jenny Lukow’s office, she and Mikaela Campbell built their strategy.

Campbell’s goal was to launch a career in sport management. And Lukow knew how to get there.

Throughout her time leading HPU’s sport management major, she’s helped students land jobs at Reebok, the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia 76ers. But it would require work and plenty of persistence, she told Campbell.

Campbell accepted the challenge.

Since her first day on campus, Campbell found opportunity everywhere she looked. That calmed the Louisiana native’s nerves. Even though she was 12 hours away from her home in New Orleans, Campbell knew she would thrive at HPU.

“Being at a university where every student is treated like family eased my mind,” says Campbell. “Wherever I turned, someone was willing to lend a hand or a smile to brighten my day.”

In Campbell’s corner were also career advisors, a success coach and Lukow, her academic advisor. Together, they got to work.

“Doug Hall in Career and Professional Development took time to sit down with me as often as I needed to feel prepared for my interviews, find career connections and build my LinkedIn profile,” says Campbell. “Dr. Lukow always made me excited and eager to learn more. I could
count on her to be honest with me and give me the courage and connections to seek the experiences I was looking for.”

Experiences are something Campbell gained in spades. Under the guidance of her mentors, she landed internships at three sports industry giants — Under Armour, USA Track and Field, and IMG College.

She competed against other candidates in multiple interview rounds for the internships. By the time she was ready to graduate in spring 2018, Campbell stood out to employers like the National Basketball Association. 

The NBA offered Campbell a career opportunity before graduation. Today, she leads her dream career in New York City in the NBA Associate Program, a two-year program for recent college graduates allowing them to experience different aspects within the NBA headquarters. Associates rotate through four areas of the business for six months, and afterward, each are placed in a department.

“When I interned with organizations like USA Track and Field, Under Armour and IMG College, I was up against a field of qualified candidates from large universities,” says Campbell. “What constantly set me apart was the real-world experience I received at HPU and the attitude they instilled within me to never be afraid of a challenge.”

“Dr. Lukow never failed to keep me motivated, and I cannot thank her enough for that. Every aspect of this university prepares students to go against the best of the best in the workforce.”

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Guidance Toward Graduate School

When Zack Hutchens thinks back on his journey at High Point University, it starts with Dr. Aaron Titus.

Titus, who’s taught physics at HPU for 16 years, was the first person Hutchens met when touring campus. “He showed me how much the physics department offers, and I knew I wanted to be a student here,” Hutchens said.

Instead of heading to a big state school like he’d once considered, Hutchens became a physics major at HPU. Titus was his constant coach along the way.

“I could go to his office or text him any time with a question,” Hutchens says. “He was always available for students, and he helped keep my courses on track for graduate school.”

Together, they covered a lot of ground. Titus invited Hutchens to complete a research project about cosmic ray detection inside HPU’s physics labs before

Hutchens’ freshman year began. Hutchens became a student instructor who tutored and mentored other students, and he conducted research about effective teaching methods for minority populations in the sciences. Afterward, Hutchens and Titus traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, and Cincinnati, Ohio, to present that
research at meetings held by the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Hutchens also worked alongside Dr. Brad Barlow, assistant professor of astrophysics, to research pulsating stars.

He traveled to an international conference held in Krakow, Poland, with Barlow and fellow students to present their findings at the Eighth Meeting on Hot Subdwarf Stars and Related Objects.

“I know if I’d gone to another school, I wouldn’t have experienced these opportunities to travel to conferences and present research to professionals in my field,” said Hutchens.

When Hutchens began applying to graduate school, his experience stood out. His professors were there to write recommendation letters and help him choose the best field of practice.

“I was torn between programs focused on teaching physics and programs focused on astrophysics,” said Hutchens, now a Ph.D. candidate in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s physics and astronomy department. “But they guided me in the right direction.”

Today, he’s leading a lab section as a teaching assistant while pursuing his doctorate.

“The combination of learning from faculty who care, serving as Titus’ student instructor, conducting research and presenting at professional conferences prepared me to lead my own lab,” Hutchens says. “Without the type of mentorship I received from HPU, I can’t imagine what college would have been like.”

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The Decision of a Lifetime

For two weeks, Rebecca Ulrich and Dr. Meghan Blackledge thought it through.

On a whiteboard inside Blackledge’s office, they compared the long-term benefits for each of the post-grad opportunities Ulrich had stacked up, including seven graduate school acceptance letters and being selected for the prestigious NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program. Only 12 applicants worldwide are selected each year to pursue a research-based Ph.D. at Oxford or Cambridge University in the United Kingdom while conducting research for the National Institutes of Health in the United States. Ulrich was one of them.

She had a mammoth decision to make, but she didn’t have to do it alone. Her professor and academic advisor had always been there to help her.

Ulrich was a shy freshman from Troutman, North Carolina, the first time she reached out to Blackledge, assistant professor of chemistry. Ulrich entered HPU on the pre-med track and wanted to start building her research experience.

“I remember thinking, ‘I’m so new at this,’” says Ulrich. “Who would be willing to take me into their lab? I decided to take a chance and ask anyway.”

To her surprise, Blackledge said yes. And in many ways, the opportunity to begin lab research as a freshman solidified Ulrich’s future research career and the slew of high-level awards she’d go on to earn from the scientific community.

Along her journey, Ulrich discovered something else:

She might not be interested in medical school after all. Chemistry was calling her name.

“But I was afraid to change the life plan that I had so meticulously thought out,” says Ulrich. “So I texted Dr. Blackledge about my stress, and we set up a time to talk on the phone. She spent two hours during her family beach vacation talking to me about my future and calming all my fears. She helped me process my emotions and figure out that I wanted to pursue a career in research.”

That was just one major life decision Blackledge helped Ulrich navigate. Then Oxford happened.

“There are so many options for our students these days,” says Blackledge. “It’s important for them to have someone who can help them reflect on what they really want in life.”

Ulrich turned down the Oxford offer to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she’s pursuing her Ph.D. in chemistry. She knows she made the right decision thanks to the guidance of her mentor.

“Dr. Blackledge has always been my biggest supporter and source of encouragement,” Ulrich says. “She knows when I need someone to be empathetic and lets me vent, but she also knows when to challenge me and push me to grow.” 

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A Family and a Future

Inside Cottrell Hall, Steven Dick found a second family and his future career.

He would walk into the Belk Center for Entrepreneurship, tap on the glass office of Professor Troy Knauss, and always be greeted with a smile, handshake and a shoulder pat.

“Steven!” Knauss would say. “What’s up today? How did your interview go?”

They might discuss Dick’s business ideas and his job prospects, or work on his interview skills. Whatever he needed, Knauss was willing to help.

That was impactful for Dick, who came to HPU from Croton-on-Hudson, New York. He thought he wanted to pursue business but needed guidance to determine if it was the best fit for him.

Knauss provided that. So did a network of support from Phillips School of Business faculty. He majored in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship, which led him to Knauss, an assistant professor of the practice of entrepreneurship, seasoned angel investor and business owner. And Knauss helped Dick craft a business plan of his own.

“Professor Knauss guided me and changed my mindset on how I look at business,” says Dick. “The experience he has in running companies, investing in them and building them is unmatched. He shared that experience with me and helped me craft a business plan that I’m currently sharing with some investors.”

More of his mentors filled the building, too, including Professors Randy Moser and Larry Quinn. They run the Harris Sales Center on the first floor, and they organize the Sales Career Fairs that attract big-name employers to campus.

Major-specific career fairs are part of HPU’s multi-pronged approach to connect students with internship, job and networking opportunities on campus. That’s where Dick met a representative from Gartner.

When Dick shook the recruiter’s hand and began sharing his experience, skills and enthusiasm for a career in business, he realized how much his professors had prepared him.

“All of my professors took time to make sure my bases were covered,” says Dick. “I think that’s the great thing about the faculty — they care and they put in the extra time to make sure students are successful now and in their future.”

Gartner went on to hire Dick as an executive account manager at their headquarters in Fort Myers, Florida.

“Faculty mentorship springboarded my progress at HPU,” he says. “I’ll always remember their influence and support.”

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Imagine yourself being driven to tears of joy at the sight of your Success Coach. Imagine jumping up and hugging a professor who said you could do it. Imagine returning to your alma mater to show gratitude and appreciation for the support and guidance of caring faculty.

For HPU graduates, this happens often.

HPU provides impactful mentors to guide students not only in their four years on campus, but throughout their entire lives. Students don’t merely enroll at HPU; they join the HPU family.

Recently, the graduates featured in the foldout between pages 16 and 17 returned to campus to thank the HPU mentors who helped them get where they are today — working for companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and other nationally known organizations.

To watch a video that shows these graduates thanking their mentors for their positive influence, get your tissues ready and go to:




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