This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU brings global thought leaders to campus to mentor students and impart wisdom in young minds.
HPU is the only university where students learn from a “Justice League” of global entrepreneurs, leaders and change agents.
In the middle of Congdon Hall, Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak test-drives a golf cart that HPU students are transforming into a self-driving vehicle.
ABC News’ “Nightline” anchor Byron Pitts leans against the HPU television studio desk and waits for his cue from the student behind the camera.
When Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall visits High Point University, students fill an auditorium to learn how her career ascended from a vice president at AT&T to being recruited by Mark Cuban.
And Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph takes selfies with students after critiquing their business plans inside the Belk Center for Entrepreneurship.
HPU students know what a big deal it is to have access to these innovators so frequently on their campus. Their consistent presence reinforces HPU’s belief in the art of the possible.
When students regularly meet and work with global leaders, they discover that they, too, can accomplish much.
Michael Welter and his peers know a lot about persistence.
For nearly his entire HPU career, he led a student group called “HPUMinds,” and they were mentored by Wozniak through a series of brainstorming sessions and conference calls. Through his guidance, they decided to turn an ordinary golf cart into an autonomous vehicle.
The project involved sleepless nights and troubleshooting, but the motivation of providing regular updates to Wozniak kept them going.
In the Congdon Hall lobby, a crowd of students, faculty and staff gathered to watch Wozniak test-drive the cart and receive an update on its progress. A few turns later, Welter showed Wozniak the fruition of their work thus far.
“We have taken this mechanical vehicle and given it an electric brain,” Welter told Wozniak and the crowd. “When it comes to creating an autonomous vehicle, the transformation from mechanical to electrical is the major leap. An autonomous vehicle has no foot to push the pedal or hands to steer the wheel. Instead, we’ve given it sensors as eyes and an electric brain to help it make decisions.”
When Welter graduated in May with a degree in physics and handed over the leadership to his HPU peers, he knew the overarching lessons he would take away with him.
“Wozniak helped align my values,” says Welter. “He values education, learning through experience and persisting through challenges. He also taught us to use our experiences to teach and support others in their work.”
When Ryan Gilbert, ’19, first met Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph, HPU’s Entrepreneur in Residence, he was nervous. But it didn’t take long for what Gilbert calls “the veil of intimidation” to lift.
Gilbert launched Crate Systems, LLC, a storage solutions company, when he was an HPU student. He met Randolph several times in different locations on campus.
“At first, I was hesitant to approach Mr. Randolph,” says Gilbert. “But then I realized he was very approachable and open to providing feedback. After our first conversation, I had some follow-up questions that I asked when he returned to campus. It was great to know that he’d be returning so I could continue our conversation.”
One of Gilbert’s big questions to Randolph was this: How did you prepare for the meeting when your team tried to sell Netflix to Blockbuster?
“He told me to always practice and be prepared, but to always expect the unexpected,” says Gilbert. “No sales meeting will ever go exactly as you planned. I’ve gone to several sales meetings with his advice in mind.”
Relevant to All Majors
While these leaders represent specific industries — technology, business, journalism or others — they provide lessons relevant to students from every corner of campus.
Bruna Zucchi, ’19, was a business administration major who attended multiple events featuring Wozniak during her time at HPU. And during each one, she learned something new.
Before she graduated in the spring, she met Wozniak on HPU’s campus for the third time, and it was one of the most impactful moments of her HPU experience.
“I had already attended two interviews with Mr. Wozniak prior to this one, but as we grow, we begin to absorb more of their wisdom,” says Zucchi, who hails from Brazil. “We listen and we interpret in a more mature way. Wozniak constantly said during his visits to HPU that we should always be aware of what we are passionate about and not forget to go back to our goals and dreams. That is what I try to do every day.”
Today, Zucchi is pursuing her master’s degree in business management at the International University of Monaco.
“HPU has helped me through every stage of my undergraduate life, from my first moments here until my last. From my faculty mentors, to the abundant study spaces on campus, to the In-Residence program and the feeling of empowerment since day one, it all adds up and shows us a path that we never believed we could pursue.”