In a world where good news often takes a backseat, a heartwarming story from High Point University, North Carolina, is captivating hearts nationwide. A video showcasing an emotional farewell by campus security guard Valerie Baxter to the graduating class of 2023 has become a beacon of hope and love, reminding us of the power of genuine human connection.
Baxter, affectionately known as “Ms. Val,” is no ordinary security guard. For 12 years, she has served as a steadfast beacon of warmth, support, and encouragement on campus, making a profound impact on students far from their homes.
In the poignant video, recorded unbeknownst to her, Baxter is seen hugging the students, her tears of joy revealing the depth of her affection. The 63-year-old said, “The minute the first student came over to hug me, my heart got so full and I could not cut off the tears. And then they all started coming over.”
Lucas Verdeur, who filmed the touching moment, said, “It was completely unplanned. They were giving her one last hug before they graduated.” Verdeur has known Baxter since his undergraduate years, and he speaks fondly of her, “That’s not her on graduation day, that’s her every day.”
For many students like Annie Borovskiy and Joseph Maronski, Baxter’s presence on campus has been more than comforting. She has been a steadfast supporter, celebrating their successes and offering consolation during tough times. “She’s also there to lift us up when we fail or when we’re having a hard time or to give us a pep talk before a final or an exam,” Maronski said.
In times of great change and uncertainty, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Baxter’s empathy and care have shone brightly. “These babies had to endure a lot during the height of the coronavirus. The transformation of the campus, all the adjustments. So, we had to give that extra love and that extra portion, that extra care, to these babies throughout their time here,” Baxter said.
Baxter’s altruism is not limited to the university. In 2014, she made headlines for replacing a child’s lost bicycle during a community Christmas event, a gesture that resonated with the essence of her loving and generous spirit.
Following the recent graduation ceremony, Baxter received three HPU blankets from students – a tradition to show gratitude to someone who had a significant impact on their lives. “Usually, students give it to their parents, but three this year gave it to Ms. Val and seven last year did the same,” Verdeur said.
Amid the accolades, Baxter remains humble. Her advice for the graduates is a testament to her worldview, “It really doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty. Just learn to be grateful for the glass.”
Her friends and coworkers are delighted by the national attention she is receiving. “She’s like the angel of High Point. She really just has so much love in her heart to take all of us under her wing,” Borovskiy said.
Baxter sees the accolades as a reflection of something greater than herself. “All of this is just not about people responding to me or me being appreciated or recognized,” she said. “It’s all about the God in me being recognized. And that’s what I’m grateful for.”
Valerie Baxter’s story shows us that sometimes the most profound lessons come not from textbooks or lectures, but from the everyday interactions we have with those around us who radiate God’s love and grace.