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HPU Announces Recipient of

The Elizabeth Miller


Strickland Trailblazer Award




High Point University is pleased to announce the second annual Elizabeth Miller Strickland Trailblazer Award has been awarded to Class of 2022 graduate Aleah M. Hayes of Harrisburg, North Carolina.

The Strickland Trailblazer Award was established by Elizabeth Miller Strickland as a part of her $12 million gift to HPU in August 2020. Each year, the award is presented to a graduating female student who epitomizes the qualities of hard work, passion for service, perseverance and determination. This award is given to assist the deserving student in her transition from undergraduate studies to her next steps as an HPU alumna.

“HPU students consistently demonstrate they are able and determined to exceed expectations set before them,” said HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein. “The nominees of the Strickland Trailblazer Award are no different. Over the last four years, Aleah Hayes has shown her character, willingness to persevere, a drive to innovate volunteer programming and compassion for our community as a servant leader – all traits that reflect the values Mrs. Strickland and HPU hold in the highest regard.”

Candidates were nominated for the award by the university’s deans and vice presidents. After the candidates were invited to apply, the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Women’s Leadership Council selected nine finalists and the 2022 Strickland Trailblazer Award recipient. Both the 2022 Strickland Trailblazer and nine finalists received a monetary award and recognition for their extraordinary accomplishments as pioneers in serving the community.

Hayes, the 2022 Strickland Trailblazer Award recipient, graduated on May 7 as a member of the Class of 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. As an alumna, Hayes hopes to become a school psychologist to make a difference in the lives of children, especially underrepresented minorities.

“Being named the recipient of the second annual Strickland Trailblazer Award has given me the confidence that women will continue to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to bettering HPU,” said Hayes. “The financial aspect of this award is an investment in furthering my development in the field of psychology as a woman of color and a way for me to invest in the local community’s women advocacy organizations. Mrs. Strickland’s generosity and legacy will inspire me to be a trailblazer for life.”

During her time at HPU, Hayes was an active participant in student life and extracurricular academic organizations. She served as president of both the Student Volunteer Center and the Black Cultural Awareness Club and was a member of several honor societies. She also worked as a supplementary instructor for Social Ethics during the Spring 2021 semester.

As president of the Student Volunteer Center, she organized several extraordinary projects and volunteer campaigns, including a virtual HPU staff appreciation month, a virtual breast cancer awareness walk, an American Heart Association fundraiser and a toy drive for the local Boys and Girls Club. Through these projects, she helped to expand the volunteer center to become a key organization in the development of campus-wide service activities.

“Aleah’s commitment to deepening the pathways for students to serve is unparalleled,” said Rev. Dr. Joseph Blosser, executive director of HPU’s Center for Community Engagement. “What makes her so exceptional is her passion for direct service, on the ground, hand-in-hand with others, and at the same time she possesses the strategic skill necessary for building systems and organizations that create the capacity for the whole campus to engage in our community in more just, equitable and impactful ways.”

Hayes was awarded $5,000 to aid in her transition after college and has designated a portion of the award to Women in Motion, a charity organization based in High Point, North Carolina, whose mission is to promote professional wellness, career success, leadership and financial independence for women in the Greater High Point community.

During the award’s selection process, the Strickland Women’s Leadership Council chose from a pool that included nine other exemplary students who were named finalists for the Strickland Trailblazer Award. Each student was commended on her impressive resume of academia, service and passion as part of a private ceremony during the Strickland Women’s Leadership Summit.

“Being chosen as an Elizabeth Miller Strickland Trailblazer Award finalist is an amazing honor,” says Jessica Marley. “To be surrounded by the other finalists and inspiring women from the Strickland Women's Leadership Council has allowed me to appreciate the support system that comes with this award. Through my experiences at High Point University, I have found the encouragement, as well as confidence, to follow and excel in my career aspirations. I am humbled to be recognized for my dedication and passion to HPU and the community.”

All nine finalists graduated in May 2022 and received monetary awards in recognition of their achievements. The 2022 Strickland Trailblazer Award finalists are as follows:

Julia R. Aliazzi – Gates Mills, Ohio

Emily G. Beck-Aden – Athens, Ohio

Bryn E. Hawbaker – Port Matilda, Pennsylvania

Alexis M. LaBelle – North Smithfield, Rhode Island

Jessica L. Marley – Eastchester, New York

Clara Primus – High Point, North Carolina

Courtney L. Smith – Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Allison Tucker – Charleston, West Virginia

Hailey N. Turner – Gastonia, North Carolina


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