Student Spotlight: Catherine Fuller
(ABILENE, Texas)–Last year, Hardin-Simmons began the new Christlieb Scholarship, a program where sponsors cover tuition costs for students who are independent and self-supporting. One student who has benefitted from the Christlieb Scholarship is Catherine Fuller, a sophomore pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting with a minor in legal studies.
Catherine says she did not have a stable home life situation from birth to age 16 and would not have imagined attending college, much less a private, Christian one. In her younger years, Catherine and her younger sister, Hannah, lived with their mother in Abilene. Catherine’s father did not live with the family, and her mother struggled with a drug addiction. Tragically, Catherine’s mother passed away in a car accident when Catherine was just seven years old.
Catherine and Hannah moved in with their grandparents, living with them half of the year and living with their aunt and uncle for the other half. However, Catherine’s aunt and uncle got a divorce when she was 12, and her grandfather passed away in a motorcycle accident when she was 13.
Tragedy struck again when Catherine’s grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Catherine, Hannah, her grandmother, her aunt, and her cousin all moved in together, converting additional living space into an extra bedroom.
When Catherine’s grandmother also passed away, she and Hannah moved to Houston to live with another aunt and uncle. “It was awful,” she said. “They fought all the time. My uncle lost his job, and I had to take care of my little sister and their two sons, who were ages nine and seven. I got up early to get them ready for school and took them to school.”
Eventually, her uncle and aunt got divorced, and Catherine and Hannah moved back to Abilene to live with their second cousins. “They’ve been great,” she said. “They brought us back into the church and pushed us to do good things. My sister went from failing to being an all-A student. I went from not planning to go to college to going and even considering law school.”
Although Catherine loves living with her second cousins, she knew that finances would be an issue when considering colleges. “It’s been challenging,” she said. “They have three other kids, and they already put them through college. So, they don’t have a ton of expendable cash.”
Catherine was grateful when she received the email telling her about HSU’s new program. “The Christlieb scholarship makes it possible for me to go here,” she said. “Without it, I would have had to go to a community college or something less expensive. HSU is important to me because I fell in love with it, and I wanted a Christ-centered education.”
Despite the tragedies in her life, Catherine has kept her faith in God. “Without God, there’s no way that my sister and I would be here with the people we are here with. With my personal strength, I couldn’t have gotten through all the loss that I have been through.”
Since coming to HSU in 2018, Catherine has gotten involved in multiple places on campus. She has appeared in HSU Theatre performances including The Amish Project and DirectFest. She will also star in the Night of January 16th later this semester.
Catherine is a member of Alpha Psi Omega theatre fraternity and the Baptist Student Ministry prayer team. She served in Stampede as a SWAT team member this year, and she was one of the emcees of this year’s All-School SING.
Catherine enjoys the atmosphere of HSU. “It’s just the right size,” she said. “I have loved all my professors; they all remember you. You’re not a number here; you’re a person. I’ve also made lots of lifelong friends here.”
Catherine also appreciates the Christlieb Scholarship because it allows her to save the money she makes for international trips with HSU. She has traveled to Italy with the choir and to Scotland with the theatre program.
Although her life was unstable for the majority of her life, Catherine is now enjoying the college experience: taking classes, making friends, and hanging out with her cat, Artemis.