That’s more than the senior from Spring Branch, Texas, anticipated back in high school, when a friend of hers told her about ACU. With two older siblings and a mother who was single at the time, a four-year university seemed out of reach for Vanessa, she said, especially a private one.
“I came on one visit and thought, ‘This is where I want to be,’ ” she said. “A huge thing that makes ACU so special is our Christian background. That’s one of the reasons I chose ACU because faith is important to me.”
Scholarships made it possible for her to attend, and as a student, Vanessa quickly found the speech-language pathology major in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and discovered a way to put her passions into practice. She’s in the process of applying to graduate school, and her goal is to work with children and adults with severe disabilities.
“In our society, people have always been uncomfortable with people who have disabilities,” she said. “It takes special people to invest in those children and adults and be patient. That is something God has given me – I have the patience and the love for that. It’s a calling. I feel that if I can make a difference, then I should.”
It won’t be an easy career, but she knows she’s ready for it. Along with her coursework preparing her for life after school, Vanessa has learned what it means to be a leader through her roles as a member of the student group Lynay and several honors societies, as well as an officer in the women’s social club Tri Kappa Gamma.
“ACU very much grounds us and prepares us to be outstanding people in the world – people who are intentional and who value building relationships with others,” she said. “We’re prepared to be a light. It’s the cheesy answer, but it’s true.”
Vanessa also knows she’s ready to give back to help others receive an education, just as she was helped along the way.
“Having people who have helped me while I’ve been in school means the world to me, and I want to help somebody in the future,” Vanessa said. “It’s this cycle – someone blessed me and that blessing doesn’t end. It continues.”