Tyler Thomas sees him every day.
He’ll call someone, and he’ll see a visual reminder on his iPhone’s backup screen to continue.
Photo shows Former President Barack Obama and the late US Representative John Lewis walking side by side. Lewis and Obama are a lot like Thomas’s parents and paternal grandparents. These are all people who inspire him.
Yet they are not the only ones. Three years ago, when Thomas came to HPU as a member of the first Business Fellows program, he found others. Professors have become mentors and the campus has become, as Thomas likes to say, “a laboratory for lifelong learning”.
Thomas is one of two amazing leaders for the month of April. He is a major junior in marketing from Cleveland, Ohio. He has a minor in Social Media Marketing and has served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Student Government Association of HPU.
This spring, he ran for president of the AGS. He lost. Still, it didn’t cool his spirits. He did his best by performing the slogan “There is a promise with Tyler Thomas”.
Thomas first liked the name, High Point University. He discovered it during university research at the end of his sophomore year at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, a private school founded in 1968 in his hometown.
When he consulted HPU online, he did not see the old hallways and institutional-looking buildings he had discovered during his visits to the university closer to his home. He saw new buildings and promising opportunities that showed students not only to get jobs, but also to leave college as community-minded individuals guided by faith, service and integrity. .
For Thomas, HPU reminded him of what he had learned at Eastview United Church of Christ, his native church. His mother is a church leader and Thomas has attended Sunday school and sang in the church choir since he was four years old.
When he came to visit HPU with his mother and grandmother, he knew college was for him.
âI can do something with myself at High Point,â he said to himself.
People he met on campus got to know him and asked about him and his interests. One of those people was Dr. Kerr Ramsay, vice president of undergraduate admissions. Thomas remembers Ramsay telling him this:
“Your leadership speaks for itself.”
‘Mom, I did it’
Early in his freshman year in high school, Thomas became involved with the local chapter of Future Business Leaders of America. He wanted to improve and hone his leadership skills, and he believed that the organization known as FBLA could help him.
As one of the largest student organizations in the country, the FBLA has nearly 250,000 members worldwide with 5,200 chapters in 47 states and seven countries. One of its main missions is to transform students into business leaders.
Students like Thomas.
At the end of his sophomore year at the FBLA National Conference in Atlanta, he ran for National Secretary. He campaigned for three days and barely slept. He lost. It crushed him. But he didn’t give up. The following year, at the FBLA national conference in Anaheim, Calif., Thomas ran as national treasurer.
He learned from his loss the previous year on how to market himself. He used everything from beach balls to a social media campaign to generate interest. He practiced his two-minute speech for almost two months, getting his rhythm and the inflection of his voice just right. He then delivered it in front of 14,000 people.
Before walking in front of the largest crowd he had ever addressed, he prayed.
“Dear God, give me the strength to do this.”
Thomas won. He called his mother right away.
âMom, I did it! I did it!”
As National Treasurer of the FBLA, Thomas has visited National Headquarters in Washington, DC four times. He also helped establish a financial literacy program and spoke to FBLA Dallas counselors and student members in Buffalo, New York.
Thomas brought this leadership experience to HPU. Dr Oliver Stoutner, HPU Business Fellows Advisor, noticed.
“ He’s going to do special things ”
Stoutner first met Thomas at a reception for the inaugural Business Fellows class. Thomas was one of the 100 students chosen for the program. Since that first meeting in the Wilson School of Commerce ballroom, Stoutner has watched Thomas grow up.
Every few months, Thomas would drop by Stoutner’s third-floor office in Wilson for advice on everything from internship opportunities and his recent SGA presidential campaign to his future career aspirations.
âIt’s remarkable how intentional he has become, and it tells me he’s going to do special things,â says Stoutner, assistant professor of management. âHe’s already making a difference on campus with student government, and I know he will continue to focus on professional service.
âPlus, when you talk to employers about what they expect from a good employee, fuss is at the top of the list, and that’s definitely Tyler.â
Last summer, a prep program for an ethnically underrepresented student known as Intern X helped Thomas receive a virtual internship last summer at AT&T and work on his 5G initiative with the federal government. . Intern X was created by billionaire Robert Smith, the CEO of Vista Equity Partners, who donated $ 34 million to pay off student loans for more than 400 2019 Morehouse College graduates.
This summer, his connection with INROADS, a program that helps students of diverse ethnicities develop business and community leadership skills, he will go to Plano, Texas. Thomas will be an intern as a business analyst at JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States. He will work in the corporate and investment banking section focusing on wholesale payments, specializing in process improvement.
He’s come a long way since his first weekend at HPU when calling outside Roberts Hall. He saw himself as a student who just focused on going to class and not much else.
âI think back to that kid sitting on the lawn at Roberts Hall and saying, ‘I’ll be a normal kid,’ Thomas said. âBut God said, ‘No, you’re not a normal kid.’
HPU: a place of transformation
Since his first year, Thomas has been a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi, the business fraternity of HPU. Since his second year, Thomas has been a resident assistant helping dozens of students navigate university life.
Last year, as an RA on the third floor of Wanek, he helped 35 freshmen acclimatize to college. This included knocking on her door at 2 a.m. This year, as an RA at Point Place, he deals with 35 upper class men.
Thomas has been active in HPU’s diversity and inclusion efforts through HPU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. He participates in program planning as a member of the VOICE Student Advisory Council and participates in the office’s Diversity Enrichment Program.
Meanwhile, he is a student judge tasked with adjudicating cases of violation of HPU’s Code of Conduct and Code of Honor policy.
âIt made me think very intentionally about things as small as they are,â Thomas says of his role as a student judge.
Thomas does all of this service work beyond his role in SGA. When he arrived at HPU, he wanted a transformative education that would challenge and develop him. He found this. He also found a balance. In doing so, his grades improved.
âIt is a miracle and the grace of God,â he said. âI knew HPU would put me in touch with what is close to my heart, and I put effort into it. Plus, if you need help, HPU can help. “
The tutors helped Thomas with his lessons. And Thomas helped himself.
As in the calculation.
He dropped it in the spring semester of his freshman year. Last fall he took it over. He got an A-. What has changed is that it is more organized and more laser focused. His routine helped him become a member of Delta Mu Delta, the Honor Society of HPU Enterprises.
Thomas made his parents, Louis and Kelly Thomas, proud. They call him Ty. Louis is a freelance truck driver and Kelly is the council clerk in a small town eight miles east of Cleveland. Their son, Ty, their only child, made his wish come true.
He did something on his own at HPU.