Everyday Terry Chavis drives home from his work and prays.
Be humble, even on the tough days.
Be thankful for what you have.
And know that I am given all I need.
He prays prayers of gratitude: for this creation, how far he has come as an individual, and the introspective moments in his life. Chavis is constantly reminded of Jesus’ impact on his life, whether he unlocks his phone to discover the variety of wisdom sayings or looks to the right of his bed and sees his Bible right beside him on his nightstand.
Keeping Jesus in mind, inspires Chavis’ wish to spread the message that “we are all made in the image of God and are here to love and understand each other.” This led Chavis to his current role as the Director of Multicultural Affairs at High Point University in April 2020. He wishes to educate others that we are all created on an equal level, regardless of our differences.
Due to his upbringing as a Lumbee Native American, Chavis wears a white turtle necklace, carved out of deer bone, the size of a half dollar. The turtle is sacred tribal animal of the Lumbee people. Even tribe building is in the shape of a turtle.
Chavis grew up as a member or the Lumbee Tribe in Pembroke, North Carolina, a small town two hours south of High Point. In Pembroke, people often encouraged him to go to vocational school, however Chavis wanted something different. Chavis went to Mars Hill University for his undergraduate degree in Biology with Chemistry and Western Carolina University for his Masters in Higher Education Student Affairs.
But when he came back to Pembroke, he realized how unique his background was.
His upbringing taught him to look at the world through the lens of spherical perspective. This means that instead of looking at life through a pyramid perspective, where someone or something is at the top, Chavis believes that we all have equal power and place. For instance, though Dr. Nido Qubein is the president of High Point University, he ultimately has the same goal as everyone else at the university, which is to ensure that the students are happy. He feels that everyone has an equally important designated role in the community.
Chavis‘ cultural background taught him how to view the world through fairness and equality. For instance, he recalls a story from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He heard it at this year’s annual HPU MLK celebration. It’s a story of a time when he and his brother were driving through Georgia’s back roads seeing cars coming at them flashing their high beams. Dr. King’s brother said he was going to flash his on at the next person. Dr. King thought otherwise.
“I wouldn’t do that,” King told his brother. “Doing that will endanger all of us on this road. Somebody has to dim the lights.”
The story helps remind us we can’t return force with force or fire with fire. Chavis wishes to follow in King’s footsteps and bring a positive light to society.
“I want to encourage students at High Point University to recognize and celebrate other cultures than just their own,” he says. “I want them to acknowledge cultural blind spots, and advocate for minorities.”
As Chavis drives home, he thinks about all that and how he’s working to make a positive impact at HPU. When he does, he prays, thanks Jesus and listens to gospel music.
That makes him happy.