Values-Based Living and Learning

Pictured above: You’ll find this life-size art depicting High Point University’s values and virtues in the Wanek Center. This story is featured in the Fall 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s values-based learning environment pushes students to develop holistically.

At HPU, students learn that their values are the foundation on which they stand.

Spend no more than 15 minutes on High Point University’s campus, and HPU’s values become clear.

American flags fly next to sculptures of bald eagles and a boy holding folded stars and stripes against his chest. Students gather around red, white and blue seats at Patriots Plaza, located in the heart of campus.

The Kester International Promenade is lined with historical sculptures such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Benjamin Franklin and Rosa Parks, while inspirational quotes are inscribed along the sidewalks.

You’ll find these words from Roy Disney, co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, there:

“When your values are clear, making decisions becomes easier.”

These words summarize HPU’s approach to values-based living and learning. It’s true that HPU has radically transformed its campus and culture. And it’s true that transformation is continually embraced here. New facilities equipped with innovative technology fill the entire campus.

But as HPU President Nido Qubein tells parents and students on their earliest visits to campus, HPU is first and foremost grounded in values — hard work, personal initiative, generosity, gratitude, faith and more.

“Values are everything in a world where technology is advancing at the speed and way in which decisions must be made,” says

Sculptures of history’s noblest leaders, such as Gandhi, line the Kester International Promenade.

Qubein. “Parents spend their lives modeling values for their children. When they send their student to a university, they want it to

uphold and further those values. And when students choose a university, they want an institution that will serve as an extension of their home.”

That’s where HPU’s values-based living and learning model comes to life. Qubein and other HPU leaders have intentionally designed a campus that reflects the university’s values.

“But values cannot merely be taught; they must be modeled for students,” adds Qubein. “I remind our faculty and staff that we live, students watch and students learn.

“At HPU, every faculty and staff member is empowered to positively impact students. Our culture promotes the values of generosity,  gratitude, hard work, personal initiative and joy, among others. Values such as these built our nation, and we ensure students live in an environment that models those same values.”

For a deeper look at the benefits HPU’s values-based learning model provides students, click below.


Modeling Values

A Symbol of Gratitude

Last winter, HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein received an email about a teddy bear from the CEO of the Mayo Clinic.

An HPU student gave the teddy bear to a nurse at the hospital, where the student’s grandfather received cancer treatment.

Giving the teddy bear to the nurse was the student’s way of saying, “Thank you for helping my grandfather.”

It made the nurse’s heart swell with emotion. Just as the nurse’s care positively impacted the student’s family, the
student’s gratitude positively impacted the nurse.

“This act of kindness became the talk of the entire hospital,” the CEO wrote to Qubein. “I thought you should know.”

Qubein was happy but not surprised. He knew where the teddy bear came from. During the President’s Seminar on Life Skills, which Qubein teaches for all freshmen, every new student receives a bear to give to someone as a symbol of gratitude.

Throughout the seminar, Qubein discusses how a balanced life can be divided into thirds — one-third in learning, one third in earning and one-third in serving.

“Life is about achieving not only success,” he says, “but also significance. Success is in the eye of the beholder, but
significance has greater clarity. It focuses on the good you do for the world. Significance is the outcome of what you do with your success.”

And then he shares these words from Scottish theologian William Barclay: “Always give without remembering;
always receive without forgetting.”

When students exit the Hayworth Fine Arts Center during the final seminar, they receive a teddy bear.

“Children grow up with teddy bears providing a sense of warmth and comfort,” Qubein tells them. “Give this bear to a person who has made a measurable impact on your life. It can be your first-grade teacher, your grandma or your friend, but you must give it to someone. When you do, send me an email telling me why you gave it to that person.”

Qubein replied to the CEO’s email and shared the story of the teddy bear.

“I don’t know of another school in the nation that gives students something to teach them kindness,” the CEO wrote back.

That’s the point, according to Qubein. He and HPU faculty and staff know that values can’t merely be taught; they must be modeled.

“It’s not about the teddy bear. It’s a reminder that we are placed on this earth to be kind, loving and bring meaning in every circle of influence where we find ourselves,” says Qubein.

Students holding teddy bears

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Sharing Time, Talent, Music and More

Elementary student Jer-meriah Venable (left) learns to play the flute with the help of HPU student Mikaela Seemann.Every week, New York native Josh Allen watched tiny hands pick up drum sticks and happy fingers dance across flutes.

That’s when he knew.

“Generosity is the heart of what this student body does,” says Allen, ’19.

But really, Allen discovered the generous nature of HPU’s campus before he and his peers began providing free music lessons to children at Kirkman Park Elementary School.

Allen, an exercise science major, has played the trumpet since middle school. He understands the intrinsic value and the practical lessons gained by playing a musical instrument.

“Learning an instrument provides all of these intangible lessons,” says Allen. “You learn commitment, perseverance and teamwork, and it can really build your confidence. But many children don’t have access to instruments or instructors.”

Enter HPU’s Musical Empowerment chapter. Musical Empowerment is a national nonprofit that raises funds to purchase musical instruments for underserved children in the community and offers free one-on-one musical lessons. Thanks to Allen, HPU is now one of a handful of universities to offer the program, along with Duke and Dartmouth.

Establishing the chapter took work. For starters, Allen recruited fellow students who were passionate about music. And like Allen, they weren’t all music majors. Instead, they represented many walks of life.

Together, the HPU students began raising money to purchase musical instruments and received a major funding boost from HPU’s Student Government Association.

When it was time to launch, they partnered with Kirkman Park Elementary School across the street from campus. The music lessons progressed and so did the bond between the HPU student instructors and their elementary students. The HPU students decided to make a promise to the children: If you stick with your music lessons for two years, you can keep your instrument.

Allen accomplished all of this while also conducting undergraduate research and serving as a supplemental instructor for fellow exercise science majors.

A few weeks before Allen graduated, he looked back and saw a long list of what he calls “legacy moments.”

This was one of them: At a spring recital HPU students organized for the Kirkman Park children, Allen watched them pick up their instruments in front of a crowd and play with a new level of confidence.

“If you had told me four years ago that I would have accomplished all of this,” says Allen, “I would have given you a big, hearty laugh. I don’t know if I would have believed it.”

“There are so many different arms of service; it’s a big part of this campus,” adds Allen, who is now a physical therapy doctoral student at Duke University. “HPU shows you how to take what you’re learning — your skills and abilities — and apply them to your community. All of my work here influenced my career path. I see myself serving underserved communities so I can give back.”



HPU shows you how to take what you’re learning — your skills and abilities — and apply them to your community. – Josh Allen, ’19, Exercise Science Graduate and Physical Therapy Doctoral Candidate at Duke University

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Civility and Respect

There’s a reason HPU students pick up trash off the ground, hold the door for one another and engage in civil discourse.

Daniel Bartlett, ‘19, graduated from HPU with his degree in business administration and is now pursuing his law degree at American University.One day Daniel Bartlett will enter a courtroom as an attorney. When he does, he’ll bring with him a seemingly forgotten but crucial skill: civility.

He’ll debate the law and stand up for what he believes is right, but he’ll do it while being respectful to differing viewpoints.

Bartlett, originally from Great Falls, Virginia, graduated in May with a degree in business administration and a minor in philosophy. He began his law school career this fall at American University’s College of Law in Washington, D.C.

He took with him lessons learned on HPU’s campus through a variety of leadership opportunities. Chief among those was serving as a student justice for HPU’s Conduct and Honor Court, the campus body responsible for upholding the university’s Honor Code.

Bartlett and his peers signed HPU’s Honor Code during their first days on campus. Every new student participates in the signing ceremony, which sets the tone for academic and personal integrity, as well as character development.

But HPU’s commitment to maintain an honorable community extends beyond the signing ceremony. Through different avenues, the university fosters opportunities to learn and grow from people different than oneself. Students can engage in political debate viewing parties, voter registration drives and service opportunities at a variety of organizations across the city. They can conduct public opinion surveys in HPU’s Survey Research Center or learn from people of different faiths at regular meetings and dinners held by HPU’s Interfaith Club.

Respect and compassion are an important part of civility — that’s something Bartlett learned while serving as a student justice. The university’s commitment to an honorable community is strong, but HPU’s Conduct and Honor Court provides a roadmap whenever a violation of the honor code occurs.

Bartlett has counseled students and helped them see violations as learning opportunities. He learned to make unbiased decisions based on what was best for the entire community. He saw students experience tremendous growth through that.

“Whenever someone feels as if they have been misunderstood, they can be tense or stressed,” says Bartlett. “I learned to help people remain calm and find solutions. The best course of action is to remain level-headed, make smarter decisions, take emotions out of it and help everyone stay on the same page.”

Those are valuable lessons in a world where civility seems to be lacking, specially with the rise of social media, Bartlett notes.

“People often say things online that they wouldn’t say in person, and it can seem difficult for people to remain civil,” says Bartlett. “They seemingly have two personalities. I don’t want two different personalities. I’ve learned that exhibiting civility and respect in all aspects of your life is valuable.”

Whether in a courtroom, in a conversation with a friend or any setting, Bartlett knows being civil and respectful will take him far. These skills already have.

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I Am Because You Are

Emmi Esker, ‘19, is a sales and marketing graduate now working in the Commercial Leadership Program at GE Healthcare.When Class of 2019 President Emmi Esker took the podium for her Commencement Ceremony address, she shared her favorite word with fellow graduates — ubuntu.

It’s Zulu for “I am because you are.”

Esker discovered the concept of ubuntu when she traveled to South Africa on a mission trip. She was still in high school, and it was around the same time she began visiting HPU’s campus as a prospective student.

She and her parents realized how much HPU’s values aligned with their own during those visits.

“My dad appreciated how Dr. Qubein unapologetically proclaimed HPU to be a God, family and country institution,” Esker remembers. “Dr. Qubein also explained how HPU doesn’t weed students out of the system, but instead weaves students into the family.”

A few months later, Esker returned for Presidential Scholar’s Weekend. During her scholarship interview, she met Dr. Robert Hirth, assistant professor of management. Hirth had just adopted his daughter from Ethiopia, and Esker had just returned from South Africa. The two had much to talk about.

Months later when she arrived at HPU as a freshman, Hirth reached out to ensure Esker was transitioning to college well. The two discussed her career goals, and Hirth connected her with resources in the Phillips School of Business.

“I was blown away that Dr. Hirth proactively sought to help me,” says Esker. “Not only did I appreciate his classes, but he connected me with the Professional Selling Club, which led me to declaring my sales major. His depth of mentorship to me was transformative.”

Esker went on to become president of the Class of 2019 and the Professional Selling Club. She also volunteered her time with local children through the Boys and Girls Club of High Point, and she led a female empowerment class for 20 local high school students.

When she wasn’t serving the community, the Student Government Association or the Selling Club, she mentored fellow students at HPU. It was her way of showing gratitude to the school that gave her so much.

“Serving my peers and underclassmen has been one of the most rewarding experiences during my time at HPU,” says Esker. “I’ve sat down with freshmen who remind me of my first-year self and gone over their resumes or talked about career paths and their interests. HPU has such a culture of servant leadership. The university holds students to such a high standard and encourages them to help others. We build each other up at HPU.

Before she graduated, Esker landed a selective spot in General Electric’s Commercial Leadership Program. She knows how she got there — hard work in and out of the classroom had much to do with it. So did the support of her HPU professors and peers.

“Today, let us focus on being grateful for the generosity of others,” said Esker during her final speech as senior class president. “But tomorrow and every day after, let us focus on being generous to all those we encounter. Let’s live in a way that all of those we meet along our journey toward greatness will be able to sincerely say to us: ‘ubuntu’ — I am because you are.”

VIDEO: Visit to watch highlights from the 2019 Commencement Ceremony.

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Personal Initiative

HPU Students Seek Out Opportunity

Sara Barlok, ‘19, is a business administration graduate who launched her career as the membership services coordinator for the American Baseball Coaches Association thanks to experience she gained during her time at HPU.

You could find Sara Barlok at almost every HPU baseball game during her four years on campus.

Inside the Coy O. Williard Baseball Stadium, she recorded stats and ran game operations while players dotted the field and American flags waved in the background.

The story of how this student became the baseball team’s director of operations is filled with values that are as quintessentially American as baseball — values like personal initiative and patriotism.

It’s why Barlok appreciates her HPU experience so much.

As a freshman majoring in business administration and minoring in sport management, Barlok’s professors told her that gaining experience was paramount. She searched for campus opportunities, and an email she sent to HPU Baseball Coach Craig Cozart requesting a management position changed the course of her college career.

“I’ve learned that you must have drive to achieve your goals,” says Barlok, from Cheshire, Connecticut. “By contacting the baseball team, I opened a door I didn’t know existed.”

During freshman year, Barlok assisted an upperclassman who served as director of baseball operations. By her sophomore year, however, Barlok had become the director, making her the youngest and the first female to hold the position.

The volunteer role often carries the commitment of a fulltime job — ordering and organizing equipment, arranging team travel, ensuring there’s nutritious food, organizing community service opportunities, analyzing game stats and much more.

But Cozart knew he could trust Barlok.

“It can seem difficult to find young men and women today who have personal initiative, but Sara embodies that, along with motivation and professionalism,” says Cozart.

Organizing volunteer opportunities were some of Barlok’s favorite experiences. The team frequently volunteers with organizations that assist disabled military veterans, such as the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy. The organization provides training for military veterans who have faced some level of injury, and every umpire during HPU’s Purple Versus White Series was a Wounded Warrior Umpire.


“In order to convey our values to our team, we give our players the opportunity to put them into action,” says Cozart.

For Barlok, the experiences she amassed have paid dividends. She gained a new family through the team, a long list of resume-worthy skills and her first full-time job offer. Today, Barlow is the membership services coordinator for the American Baseball Coaches Association, a career that was made possible thanks to her work for HPU Baseball.

“I’ve learned so many life lessons during my time at HPU, most importantly that you are the driver of your own destiny,” says Barlok. “By pushing toward your goals and trying to achieve the best, not only will you make an impact on yourself, but others in the process. You decide how hard to work and what impact you make every day, so make sure you strive to achieve excellence.”

Proud Patriotism

Craig CozartWhen Craig Cozart visited High Point University to interview for the head baseball coach position, he noticed red, white
and blue flying across campus.

“To see stars and stripes everywhere I turned was good for my soul,” says Cozart. “It was so unique.”

Cozart came from a large institution where American flags were rare. The patriotism visible on HPU’s campus was a sign
he’d found a university that shared his values.

Cozart discovered the value of patriotism was embraced beyond flying flags on campus, too. HPU’s Veterans Day
Celebration is one example. During the annual event, HPU volunteers welcome 1,000 veterans and their family members to campus for a complimentary hot breakfast, patriotic program, speaker and a blanket — a gift that serves as a symbol of the warmth and comfort veterans have provided to others.

There are countless other examples, too, of HPU students, faculty and staff embracing veterans. Cozart’s team is one
of them.

“When I think about God, family and country, I think about all of the opportunities we have because of our military,” says Cozart, whose family history includes many military veterans.

The Coy O. Williard Baseball stadium, the team’s home, has chairs dedicated to each branch of the military and frequently welcomes veterans to games, along with referees from the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy. The players also volunteer their time with organizations that build homes for disabled veterans.

“One time we arrived to a house frame with studs,” says Cozart about a recent volunteer day. “By the time we left, siding and windows had been installed.”

Values are fostered everywhere at HPU, from the classroom and the campus, to the baseball field and beyond.

“I don’t think there’s a bigger calling in our lives than to be a patriot,” says Cozart.


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