Something that sets Cornerstone University apart from other universities is our Creativity and Innovation Honors Institute (CIHI). Professor Don Perini, the director of CIHI, started the program after he recognized a need to promote visionary scholarship in students through transformative materials and methods. Through creative thought, Perini hopes to change the way students not only think, but how they view the world, problem solve and design for the glory of God.


CIHI is an honors program that allows students to take a unique set of core classes that combine various aspects of all the academic disciplines. Students read revered literary works that have shaped our world, engage in hands-on learning experiences and collaborate with other students. Every CIHI student graduates with a major in Creativity and Innovation as well as whatever other additional major they choose. This allows the students to diversify themselves, their knowledge and their skill sets. CIHI is a trailblazing program, which in turn, creates trailblazing students who have increased capacity to influence the world for Christ.

I sat down with Joelle Henry (B.A. ’22), and her passion for CIHI was obvious. Her excitement exuded from her broad smile and expressive gestures.

“CIHI is a way of life. I look at the world differently [because of it],” Joelle said.

To Joelle, CIHI is so much more than a program. It affects the way she thinks and how she looks at the world. Now when she encounters a problem, she finds herself exploring creative solutions using new thought processes and unique connections she wouldn’t have made before CIHI.


There are two cohorts within each year that CIHI is offered. Because of the distinctiveness of the program and countless hours spent together, students naturally form a supportive, tight-knit community.

Walking into class the first day, Joelle said she didn’t know if she would be friends with all her classmates, but has found that some of them are now her closest friends.

“[In CIHI] we are just allowed to be broken and be wrong and are totally accepted. [In more traditional classes] we’re expected to do well on the test. [CIHI is] all about growth. It’s all about changing. It’s all about becoming a better version of me,” said Joelle.

Students feel free to fail, knowing that failure is a guaranteed part of the journey to success. This authentic community and nurturing environment is fostered by Professor Don Perini, who Joelle spoke very highly of.

“He’s someone that’s definitely poured into me as a person and been someone who has really wanted to support me through whatever is going on.”

Speaking about other professors involved in the program, Joelle said, “All of them would go to bat for us, no matter what. They would do that for any student that walks into the classroom. They’re going to help you grow and learn as best you can, as a human and as a student.”


According to a survey conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 95% of employers list innovation as one of the top things they look for in the hiring process.

For Joelle, learning how to be innovative is especially important as she studies to be a teacher. Ever-growing and changing, education requires teachers to be adaptable. Joelle talked about the new schools popping up in the area that specialize in creativity and innovation.

“Every classroom needs to be shaped and made for your students, and if I have creative and innovative ways to do that, I can touch so many more students’ lives,” said Joelle.

With her background here at Cornerstone, she also has the upper hand in getting hired and adapting to the unique needs of individual students, wherever she teaches.


If CIHI is something that you are interested in, Joelle will be one of the first to encourage you to apply for the program. In CIHI, you have to make the choice to thrive. While you will be stretched, you will also grow in new and imaginative ways.

In the words of Joelle, if you’d like to apply for CIHI, “Be ready to change, because you will!”