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First undergraduate student receives degree from HPU’s New Braunfels Center

Meinecke and Scardami for webBROWNWOOD – May 12, 2015 – Among the 140 students receiving diplomas from Howard Payne University on Saturday was James Scardami Jr., the first to earn an undergraduate degree from HPU’s New Braunfels Center.

Scardami moved to New Braunfels in 2004 after four years with the United States Marine Corps. After briefly considering pursuing a degree from an online university, he discovered HPU in 2012.

“I had given up on the idea of attending college when I met Christy Meinecke at a job fair,” he said. “I got her business card and the rest was history.”

Christy Meinecke, admission counselor and extension center office assistant, and her husband, Dr. Dale Meinecke, assistant vice president for external affairs, moved their family to New Braunfels in 2012 to facilitate the university’s entrance into the community. HPU has maintained a presence in New Braunfels since that time and began offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in 2013. Nine students have subsequently graduated from the center with Master of Business Administration degrees.

“James has been with us since the first semester we began offering undergraduate degrees,” said Dr. Dale Meinecke. “We greatly enjoyed having him as a student and we’re so proud of his accomplishments.”

Scardami, who graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in business administration, calls his experience at HPU “life changing.”

“I would absolutely recommend HPU’s New Braunfels Center to everyone,” he said. “The quality of the education is outstanding.”

Scardami has now enrolled in HPU’s MBA program and is pursuing the opportunity to open an Edward Jones Investments office in the community. He said that HPU has given him more than just educational opportunities.

“You feel like literally every faculty and staff member cares about you,” he said. “The people I have met along the way will be a part of my life forever.”

Scardami wrote an e-mail to Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, further praising HPU’s family-like atmosphere and the effects it had on his own family – Lesley, his wife of five years, and twin three-year-olds, Emily and Conner.

“My family and I attended church for the first time as a family last weekend,” he wrote. “My wife and I had been to church before we met, but never since we have been together and never with our children. I know, with other circumstances in life and God as the director, that I owe this to the amazing Dr. Dale Meinecke. I have never met someone so loving of God, his wife and his students and that makes me want to be a better man in every aspect of my life. He has encouraged me to do more and be better.”

He continued, “I earned every ‘A’ I received and I got many of them, but the quality and value from the experience far exceeds any knowledge I attained.”

HPU’s New Braunfels Center is now enrolling for the fall 2015 semester. To learn more, visit, call (830) 629-2366 or e-mail


Photo cutline: James Scardami Jr. (right) is the first student to receive an undergraduate degree from Howard Payne University’s New Braunfels Center. He is pictured with Dr. Dale Meinecke, assistant vice president for external affairs.