Tori Williford HSU Psychology Program student

"So many people here extend grace. I see it in the authenticity of the faculty and how they interact with students."

Growing up in Abilene, I always wanted to go away to college. HSU wasn’t even a consideration. But, during spring break of my senior year in high school, I began to feel God wanted me to be at Hardin-Simmons. Now, I can’t imagine being anywhere else!

My first year, I built a strong community through relationships with fellow students and professors. People at HSU are very intentional. Professors aren’t just teachers, they’re also mentors. At Hardin-Simmons, we talk about an education enlightened by faith. It isn’t just something we say, it’s something that I see lived out every day. So many people here extend grace. I see it in the authenticity of the faculty and how they interact with students.

I have especially experienced this with Dr. Lori Copeland, head of the Department of Psychology and Counseling. The night before a test, I updated my smartphone and accidentally turned it off – which meant no alarm the next morning. When I didn’t show up for her 9 a.m. class, Dr. Copeland asked classmates to call me. When they couldn’t reach me, she asked them to go check on me because she knew I wasn’t one to miss class and that something must be terribly wrong.

Some people may think that we don’t have quality faculty because HSU is a small school. I think we have the best-qualified professors anywhere. They are passionate about teaching and teach from experience, not just a textbook. Many of my professors are still actively counseling.

I haven’t had a class with more than 30 students here – and most of my classes are considerably smaller than that. It’s easy to ask questions and have interactive learning experiences in a small class setting. The professors know me and care about me, even beyond the classroom. I have visited Dr. Copeland several times when I felt stressed or uncertain about my career path.

I plan to pursue my master’s in Clinical Counseling at HSU. I have a huge heart for international missions, and I’ve been blessed to take mission trips around the world. People in many of the places I visited have tremendous needs, including the need for counseling, especially from a Christian perspective. I have a strong desire to help broken families – both abroad and at home. While I don’t know yet where God will ultimately lead me, I know that HSU is preparing me well for a career in counseling.