With another Commencement behind us, High Point University graduates will be 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 2021:
Name: Emma Russell
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
Post-graduation plans: Russell will be attending The New York Film Academy to pursue a Master’s in Acting for Film in Los Angeles, California.
How HPU helped you get there: “High Point University is why I have secured a full time remote job at Duke University Health System. The job I am in required business majors only to apply, however, my growth mindset told me to apply anyway. Of all the candidates I was the only one they hired and they asked me to recommend any one else from HPU because they loved that I had life skills. High Point University is why I have been accepted into a graduate school in the heart of LA with alumni such as Bill Hader and Aubrey Plaza. The Department of Theater and Dance taught me how to lead with professionalism and charisma while being an impactful communicator and analyzer. I have become a stronger advocate for myself and my peers through my leadership opportunities in my department. High Point has taught me that you can’t expect the world to be handed to you. You need to seek out opportunities. You need to grow from failure. It is okay to ask questions and to seek help. As our president likes to remind us, ‘The world doesn’t care how much you know, until it knows how much you care.'”
Most impactful mentor at HPU: “Doug Brown is the biggest mentor I have had in all 22 years of my life. He made it especially hard for me to leave High Point. I have never met a person as validating, brilliant, or loving as Doug Brown. He has been my director, professor, mentor, cast mate and confidant. He was there during some of my hardest moments and he was a contributor to some of my best moments. He gave me opportunities to prove myself, opportunities to lead, and opportunities to be heard. He wasn’t afraid to make mistakes and taught me that it is okay to not always have an answer. He helped shape me from a lost and confused freshman to an excited and determined senior. Doug once told me that he loves teaching because of the moments when he gets to be there for his students, he loves the human in all of us. As a director, he taught me to trust my instincts and believe in my abilities. Doug is the kind of mentor who would zoom me at night to help me go over audition materials and remind me that no matter what happened, he would be there cheering me on. He is the kind of mentor who checks in on all of his students during the summer. He is the kind of mentor that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Most impactful moment at HPU: “I was cast in a show called “These Shining Lives.” It is about the women who would paint watches with radium during and after WWI. My character was Catherine Donohue, she is a real woman who took the Radium Dial Company to the Supreme Court seven times while battling radium poisoning. My experience in that show was one of intense emotion and growth. Catherine was a fighter, she was never a victim. After researching and performing as her, I realized that I had power in myself as well. That I had some of the qualities which I admired in Catherine but I had to believe in them first. The experience I had during that show really changed me as an actor and as a human. It showed me the value of vulnerability and embracing emotions. It also showed me that if I could act as someone with strength, verve and fire then I very well can have those qualities on my own. I have taken a piece of Catherine Donohue with me, and it continues to affect me almost two years later.”
Advice for underclassmen: “Don’t let anyone unnerve you! Life has no limitations except the ones you make for yourself. So stop asking for people’s opinion, stop asking for validation of your life. Too many people aren’t living their dreams because they are living their fears! If not you, then who? If not now, then when? You have to be hungry. You have greatness within you. Embrace every failure as an opportunity to improve. All of this starts with shifting your perspective.”