The Roots of Success

This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s arboretum and gardens inspire students to plant their roots and reach for the stars. 


Whenever I walk around campus and see what needs to be planted, pruned or replaced in our gardens, I find our rose bushes in bloom in front of the Smith Library, and I remember how each plant started out as three sticks in the ground.

Within a season, those three sticks produced a beautiful bush filled with roses, and it reminds me of the birth of a child. Both are miracles, and both remind me of the importance of new beginnings and the need to appreciate the roots of our family, our faith and who we are.

During our Arbor Day Celebration in April, we honored those roots. In front of a crowd at the Cottrell Amphitheater, we celebrated our distinction of being named Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for the 10th straight year, and we offered every attendee a gingko biloba maidenhair tree to take home and plant.

It was our gift and our way to illustrate the importance of roots in our own lives.

At High Point University, we help our students strengthen their own roots by providing them with an education and the tools they need to compete, as my husband says, not for the world as it is, but as it is going to be.

Once they leave our campus, they graduate grounded like grand trees. They are prepared to handle any climate that they may encounter and create a life of success and significance where they work toward making our world a better place to live.

Yet, students need guidance. They’re busy trying to make a life for themselves, and our gardens help by exposing them to a whole different world where they can learn, relax, pray, create, volunteer and think about what their life can be.

I am so proud of what our gardens have become. We planted our first garden in 2006 with the rose bushes in front of the Smith Library, and we went from there, one garden at a time.

Now, it’s 13 years later. Our gardens have given me a purpose and a passion for my alma mater. But I never thought in my life we would create what it has become — 28 gardens, nine plant collections, more than 700 taxa of trees and 3,700 different varieties of plants.

Every year, we plant at least 72,000 annual flowers in our landscape areas. This beauty, created by a team of students,  faculty, staff and community volunteers, has attracted national attention and drawn visitors from across the country.

This fall, we will unveil a 332-page illustrative gardens book with dozens of quotes and more than 700 photos to showcase the beauty of our campus and document how it has inspired staff, faculty, students, alumni, donors and community volunteers.

We’ll call it “Planting Seeds of Greatness.” It’s a phrase my husband often uses to describe our work at HPU. The gardens are an example of how we plant seeds of greatness with our students so they can grow like a majestic tree.

A tree is an excellent symbol of what we believe as a university. We are a student’s anchor; we are their roots. Once they graduate, their roots support them for the rest of their lives. They grow into healthy and productive citizens, and like a grand tree, they reach for the stars.

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