With another successful Commencement behind us, High Point University graduates are commencing prestigious career paths around the world at Fortune 500 companies, international service programs, public school systems, top-tier law, medical and graduate school programs, and many other esteemed organizations thanks to their journey at HPU. Here’s a glimpse of one extraordinary senior from the Class of 2020:
Name: Michaela Connors
Hometown: Apex, North Carolina
Post-graduation plans: Connors will be attending Appalachian State University to pursue a Master of Science in biology.
How HPU helped you get there: “High Point University provided me with classes that I was interested in and furthered my curiosity about the natural world. Additionally, I was able to conduct several semesters of undergraduate research which boosted my confidence in the lab and gave me opportunities to present scientific data. Kellie McLeod in the Office of Career and Professional Development was kind enough to look at my resume and help me condense it to highlight my best assets.”
Most impactful mentor at HPU: “Dr. Nicole Hughes without a doubt. She has guided and supported me through the years and I wouldn’t be anywhere without her.”
Most impactful moment at HPU: “When I came to HPU, I was set on a course that would lead to a career with the CDC. I was going to get an undergraduate degree in biology, focusing on health science, get my masters in epidemiology, and eventually my Ph.D. That had been my plan for two years prior to college. However, after my first-year introduction to biology classes, I had the option to take anatomy and physiology or take a different route and try the organismal biology classes. The ironic part is that I would see the posters in Couch Hall with the different career options for each biology concentration, and seeing the ecology and evolution concentration I’d think ‘That’s the last thing I would ever want to do.’ Then, when I took organismal biology and learned about protists, fungi, slime mold and plants, I felt like my eyes had been opened to the world around me. Suddenly every step outside was much more interesting and yielded so much more curiosity and joy. After that class, I knew I wanted to work with plants and Dr. Hughes, who changed my life for the better, took me under her wing and I worked in her lab for two and a half years. It was Dr. Hughes’ enthusiasm for the subject and engagement with her students that led me to fully consider a change in career paths. Now, I have a bachelor’s degree in biology, with a concentration in ecology and evolution, and I am heading to Appalachian State for my Master’s in Science, concentrating in ecology and evolution, where Dr. Hughes also obtained master’s degree. My life’s goal is to help everyone attain a basic understanding of the natural world and be able to derive the simple joy I feel when the sun shines through leaves. After my master’s, I would like to pursue a Ph.D. and eventually teach at the undergraduate level because I feel that will always be the place with the most possible change – where the young people are!”
Advice for underclassmen: “Be proactive; Opportunities don’t just land in your lap. Be kind, work your hardest, and have gratitude. The little things always matter the most, so be attentive and thoughtful. It’s okay to ask for help! Whether that’s in your job, career searching, your mental health, etc. If you need help, ask.”