“A true test of a man’s character is his ability to carry out a good resolution long after the mood in which it was set has left.” This is a quote that could be found on the mirror of Abilene Christian alum Gretchen Ware. While Gretchen just recently obtained her bachelor’s degree in integrated studies from ACU Online, her journey as a Wildcat began long before she turned the tassel.
Gretchen’s ACU experience started on campus in Abilene, Texas in 1981 as an eager and excited freshman accounting major from Dallas. While unsure of exactly what course her professional life would go, her personal life quickly began to take shape. After the end of her freshman year, Gretchen met Gordon Ware, a sophomore geology major whom she would marry just one year later.
During Gretchen’s sophomore year, she found out she was pregnant with her and Gordon’s first-born son. She loved being a student at ACU, but balancing school while being a new mom and wife became a lot to handle. After completing the school year, Gretchen decided to take a full-time job to support their family of three and began to pave a career path for herself in the oil and gas industry while Gordon finished school.
As Gretchen and Gordon moved from city to city throughout Texas, furthering their careers, their family continued to grow. Reflecting on the different seasons her young family faced over the years, Gretchen acknowledges that a lot of the journey involved steps of faith. “It was important for us to be independent of our families, and we had to connect to our own faith rather than anyone else’s for the first time really,” she recounts.
It was always apparent to Gretchen that God was walking through each phase of life with their family. Throughout the next several years, they both went on to have successful careers in oil and gas and raised three kids – two of which are Abilene Christian alumni, and the other a Texas A&M alumni.
Back to School
After spending years focused on her career and children, Gretchen had one major goal she wanted to achieve for herself. She wanted to graduate from ACU. “I always thought I would finish there,” she recalled. After gaining the support of her family, and taking classes from other online universities while working her full-time job, Gretchen set out to achieve her goal.
Down to her last 15 hours of undergraduate studies, Gretchen called her ACU advisors and asked what she could do to finish. They created a customized plan for her to do just that. “I truly appreciated their patience as I navigated ACU Online. They made the experience less stressful and were all so encouraging,” she added.
Thirty-five years after her 1985 classmates, Gretchen graduated from ACU and accomplished one of her biggest and most rewarding milestones. “I always had it in my heart that someday I would be able to ‘finish what I started’ and it is done,” she said excitedly.
Currently, Gretchen resides in Houston with her husband and is enjoying being a grandma of six. “Whether I go back to work, or not, it doesn’t make a difference. I really just wanted to do this for myself,” she said about getting her degree.
Gretchen loves to travel, hike and explore new places. The online format ACU provided allowed her to balance all of these things while reaching her goal of becoming an ACU graduate. Her most valuable takeaway was the flexibility online learning afforded her by providing the opportunity to work on her studies wherever she was, no matter where she might be traveling.
Gretchen thoroughly enjoyed the group discussion boards in her classes and learning about other students’ stories during her time with ACU Online. Throughout her professional career and educational experiences, she said “no matter where others come from or what language they speak, we’re all the same at the end of the day, and it’s our job to help minister to each other.” She thinks it’s great that ACU is providing avenues for more people to complete their degrees no matter their circumstances.
Have you been thinking about going back to school to finish your degree like Gretchen Ware did? Visit acu.edu/online or call us at 855-219-7300 to speak with one of our admissions advisors about the next steps you can take to reach your goals.