'High Point is home' [The High Point Enterprise, N.C. :: ]
(High Point Enterprise (NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 23--HIGH POINT -- For Alex Allis, staying in the Triad after graduating in May from High Point University was never in question.
Allis not once imagined as he neared the end of his schooling at Wesleyan Christian Academy that he would attend the university he often passed without a second glance, but he soon realized it, like High Point, was home.
When his father encouraged him to tour High Point University and think about it as a college choice, Allis shrugged off the suggestion.
"I was accustomed to what it was," he said. "I'd heard they made some updates, but, you know, what does that even mean? I had the idea in my head of this small little college."
Still, he decided to appease his father.
Once on campus, Allis saw evidence of the university's rapid growth.
"It was really remarkable," he said. "I felt like at the university that what they had done in terms of the outside would reflect the type of institution that it was, so I applied to go there."
And, Allis said, he was right because experiences there landed him a job.
'Just on my list'
Baltimore native Aunya Butler-Joyce, like Allis, said HPU "started out just kind of being on my list."
Encouraged by her mother to travel to North Carolina to visit the campus, Butler-Joyce found a second home.
"My first thought was, 'This is too good to be true,'" she said. "I said, 'I love it here,' so I chose High Point."
During her visit, Butler-Joyce said she also toured the city, with some areas a stark contrast to HPU's manicured lawns and elaborately decorated buildings.
Unlike Allis, Butler-Joyce never planned to stay in High Point after graduation. The Spanish major and journalism minor thought she'd return to Baltimore to find work.
But an internship at FOX8 WGHP TV in High Point changed that.
"When senior year started, I thought I honestly would go wherever; whoever would hire me, I would go there," she said, "and it just happened to be here."
Because the local television station was hiring when Butler-Joyce was interning this spring, her duties were altered so she could be trained for one of the openings. She now works as an associate producer.
"It was an amazing job, which is why I ended up in High Point," she said.
For those willing to look
Finance major Victor Trinklein had several job offers -- some on Wall Street -- after his 2012 graduation from HPU, but the New York native said it was an opportunity in High Point that won him over.
"On Wall Street, I'd be working with some folks who maybe put more value on prestige and salary than family values and morals," he said. Trinklein instead took a job offer that stemmed from an internship at Merrill Lynch.
Staying in High Point "was important because I grew to appreciate the opportunities that are here," the financial adviser said. "Once I saw the types of opportunities that are available that I feel are unique to anywhere else, I wanted to be here even more."
For those willing to look, High Point is a unique city with huge opportunities, Trinklein said.
His wife, Annie, also a 2012 HPU graduate, said she found the city to be the best place for her career in interior design. She, too, had an internship that resulted in a job offer.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native in her freshman year worked with Century Furniture as an assistant during High Point Market, the largest home furnishings industry trade show in the world.
"I've always loved the company, the people here, the beautiful showroom we have," she said. "I worked for them all four years while I was in school and really became very connected with everybody here."
As a designer, she now works to prepare the showroom for the High Point Market, picking out new fabrics each season, choosing finishes and creating a layout.
A bright future
Many of the Trinkleins' friends from HPU did not stay in the area.
"It's my feeling that the likely cause of that is that opportunities in High Point are not as well advertised as they are in, say Charlotte, Raleigh or New York," Victor Trinklein said. "There, it's very known the opportunities that exist, but in High Point it's very much hidden in a way. It takes a lot of discovery to find those opportunities."
Several graduates leave High Point for well-known opportunities in larger cities, he said.
But High Point is not the same place that, six years ago during his tour of the city and campus, Trinklein noted "seemed to lack the energized growth upon which its university thrived."
The caring nature of the people that stood out to him then has only been fueled by a pride in their city and desire to breathe new life into the area.
"I believe the city of High Point has a bright future," Victor Trinklein said. "The amount of pride, passion and generosity that exists within each High Pointer is remarkable, and, when combined with the recent movements for revitalization, I feel big things are going to happen."
The Trinkleins, who bought a house in December, said they have no plans of leaving the area anytime soon.
'Do you want a job?'
Allis, who is working -- one coffee shop at a time -- to help reinvigorate High Point and nearby areas, also plans to stick around.
An in-house graphic designer for Fortuna Enterprises Inc., a company that specializes in providing supplies and services to mom-and-pop coffee shops, Allis is charged with creating logos, menus and an atmosphere that brings people back.
Before he moved to campus and began his freshman year, Allis knew he needed a laptop. He sought help from the IT department, where he found Wellington de Souza, then vice president of information services.
A "really high-energy guy," de Souza told Allis everything he needed to know about which laptop would best suit his needs for classwork and graphic design.
It was that exchange, Allis said during a recent interview at the Jumoka Cafe & Bakery on Eastchester Drive, that ultimately led him to a job.
"He said, 'Hey, Alex, you do design work. I need a designer,'" Allis said. "The next year, it was the same thing. He was always approaching me. Eventually it was junior year. It was spring break, and I was at home, minding my own business, and I get a call on my home phone.
"Alex, this is Wellington. Do you want a job?'"
"I was speechless," Allis said with a laugh. "'Do I want a job? Yes, I want a job.'"
"'Alright, great, I'm here at Fortuna. I have you on speakerphone," de Souza said.
Allis' work with Fortuna continued, and he was hired after graduation in May. Through his position at Fortuna, Allis said he designed Jumoka's logo.
"I hope to do work that will empower small business owners in a way that sets them apart from other businesses -- from franchises -- and helps them get noticed," Allis said. "When you walk into a business, you make judgments about it. The more you control that, the more people come back. Hopefully, that helps High Point as a whole. That's our small part of it."
Allis said he hopes more local employers realize the benefit of hiring innovative HPU graduates to work within their companies.
"The students who graduate, it's only logical to say if they had a job they would stay here," he said. "I wasn't going anywhere. High Point is home."
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