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Student Spotlight: Addison Mouser

Known for her many talents and philanthropic efforts to raise money for children with disabilities and health-related illnesses, Addison Mouser is recognized as one of Dallas’ most honored servants and community volunteers whose main mission is to service those in need. As a former dancer turned congressional medal ambassador and intern for nonprofits like Brown Girls Do Ballet and Children’s Hospital, Addison has proven to herself and others what it means to be an advocate for marginalized communities regardless of the obstacles in her way. Now, earning her bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Services, Addison hopes to go even further. Whether that means continuing her philanthropic efforts like writing books for children sustaining challenges as a result of the pandemic or volunteering alongside Black activists and historical figures like Dr. Opal Lee, Addison aims to make her name known and more importantly, change the world through positive leadership, service, and kindness. 

Adopted and Chosen 

Unlike most children, Addison’s story began before she was even born. Having two biological parents who could not afford to keep baby Addison beyond birth, God prepared a special situation to occur all of those years ago – an adoption. After Addison’s biological parents met and greeted the soon-to-be adoptive parents, it became absolutely clear that Addison was meant to be born and cared for by her new adopted family. From the very beginning, Addison believes – and knows – she was chosen for a reason and meant to be an answer to a life-long prayer for her adoptive mother.

“When my mom was 12 years old, God told her she would adopt and that has been her biggest focus in life,” Addison said. “One of the most cherished memories for my adoptive mom was that she was allowed to carry me down to the nursery immediately as well as given the blessing of doing all my firsts, such as cleaning me up. Those moments really mattered to her. She loved me.” 

As Addison grew up, she realized that her life was a bit more special than other kids. While she was aware of her adoption, Addison’s heart still wondered what her birth parents were like. Aiming to fill those voids and reconnect with her birth family, Addison, and her parents set up opportunities for her to build relationships with her birth parents and even birth sisters. Having now two families, Addison felt that maybe these life challenges were a sign that she was meant for something more. 

Dancing Against The Odds

Encountering several health issues, including developing a hearing disability, Addison eventually was pulled out of public school to be homeschooled, allowing time for her doctor appointments, speech and occupational therapy, charity work, and dance. Since she was two years old, Addison had a great talent for dance. Beginning ballet classes despite her hearing balance disorder, Addison pushed past her obstacles and made it her mission to not only become a great dancer but also an excellent student and advocate – all at the same time. Training professionally with dance companies like the Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey, and Dance Theater of Harlem, Addison began to receive recognition for her abilities and talent amongst other dancers in the Dallas/Fort Worth community. And then, like many dancers, the worst thing happened; she became severely injured. 

“In high school, I suffered a very severe injury. When I was preparing for the Nutcracker, I remember I was leaping in the air and my ACL popped,” Addison recalled. “Eventually, they found that my meniscus was also torn and, like with most of my health challenges, my situation became less than a normal journey.” 

Undergoing several surgeries and physical therapy appointments over the next few years, Addison was given the news that she would no longer be able to dance in the same way. Her dream was placed on pause. Now, nearing the end of her high school career, Addison was faced with yet another challenge – figuring out a new dream. 

Building Charities and Communities Despite Challenges

After needing to hang up her dance shoes, Addison began to focus more on volunteerism and her future career. Knowing she wanted to become a Child Life Therapist one day, Addison began volunteering throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth community with various nonprofits ranging from Mission Arlington, North Texas Food Bank, Opal’s Farm, Unity Unlimited, HEAL America, Juneteenth DFW, as well as even leading free ballet classes for youth in underserved communities. Addison always kept a positive attitude when it came to serving those in need, but she still went through her fair share of challenges including when her family was kicked out of their home and having to live in their car during the pandemic. Turning those challenges into fuel, Addison decided to look beyond the obstacles that she faced, and founded the Gratitude Project for Youth, a philanthropic grassroots organization focused on helping patients at the Children’s Hospital to “find joy in the little things.” 

“The Gratitude Project started when I told my mom how blessed we were to have a car to live in because many homeless had nowhere to sleep,” Addison said. “Recognizing how gratefulness can change our mindset, it gave us the strength to keep going with the new vision of helping others.” 

The project first began with her reaching out to youth who had health or disability issues, and finding ways to connect with them via Facetime or even watching movies virtually. It was a small way to tell other kids that they were not alone. Pushing forward with her goals of engaging and encouraging others, Addison published a book, You Are a Hero, to help kids with the changes brought on by the pandemic. 

“I knew the hospital had changed dramatically like no longer allowing kids to go to playrooms, have visitors, or even the therapy dogs,” Addison said. “I wanted them to know they still mattered and that’s what the book was for.” 

And yet, Addison realized she too needed encouragement. What better way to learn what it means to be grateful than talking with her local heroes like Dr. Opal Lee, recognized as the grandmother of Juneteenth. Hearing about her story and how difficult her life was, Addison saw more than just the hero who stood before her. She saw someone who could have chosen anger but chose love, and that made the biggest difference for students like Addison. 

“I wanted her dream to come true,” Addison said. “She worked hard, and she deserved to see this happen. As soon as the pandemic was a bit safer, I then started volunteering with her in person. I still can remember the day we finally met in person. It was so exciting. I also had the wonderful opportunity to help lead the Juneteenth Walk in honor of Ms. Opal Lee in D.C. while I was there and did several live interviews.”  

Seeing a 97-year-old woman getting up every day and still choosing to serve her community, Addison was inspired; if Dr. Opal Lee could do it, she could too. It is people like Dr. Opal Lee and their powerful stories that taught Addison how important it is to advocate, speak peace, and love others. Taking into account gratitude and respect for all, Addison has chosen to be an advocate. Looking to spread love, Addison wanted things to be better and to keep the light shining in the darkness.

Finding ACU Online

Beyond her community service and non-profit work, Addison was constantly being asked about her future goals and college. Addison and her mom began searching high and low for online schools that offered her the opportunity to continue her volunteer work with accommodations due to her hearing loss. Already aware of ACU’s reputation, Addison began comparing other schools with ACU, and ACU continuously kept coming out on top. As an example, Addison recalls her advisor asking to talk via Google Chat instead of over the phone; a huge relief and selling point for her. ACU’s ability to be flexible and considerate of her situation was what made it the easiest ‘yes’ for her to attend school.  

Now, as a freshman in the B.S. in Child and Family Services program, Addison is excited to see how courses focused on social services will impact her experience out in the field. In many ways, Addison is ready to continue her efforts to become someone chosen by God and for a single purpose: to bring joy and perspective to the world. Realizing God’s plan to share her story, Addison believes that He is in constant control of all. Regardless of her circumstances or challenges, Addison knows that He is still providing a way for her to reach her ultimate potential. 

“I did not see any of this coming, and I am still shocked when I realize this is my story. I say I want to be a Child Life Specialist one day, but God may have another path, and I want to keep my eyes open because He always has the best goals,” Addison remarked. 

Interested in learning more about our various online programs? Contact our admissions team at 855-219-7300 to set up a meeting. 

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