Jennifer Harrison '20 shares how TXWES community's generosity changes lives
Tell us about the chance encounter that led to you attending Texas Wesleyan.
This is a great story. I was laid off from my job and was working at a flower shop when Bobby Cornett came in to purchase funeral flowers. He signed the card message from the “Texas Wesleyan Family”. I asked him if he worked at Texas Wesleyan, and he said he was actually the golf coach. I told him I had been trying to get my degree off and on for about 28 years, just got laid off from my job, and felt like this was the time to finish and finally get my degree. I expressed how I would love to go to Texas Wesleyan because it has a long-standing tradition of being a prestigious academic university, but I didn’t think I would ever be able to afford it. He then proceeded to write down the name of a scholarship that helps students that were exactly in my situation and told me to put his name on the referral. He really encouraged me to go to the school and talk to admissions and financial aid to see if I could qualify for financial aid and other scholarships. I visited the university the very next day! By August 18, 2018, I was attending my first semester at Texas Wesleyan! I really feel like it was fate that Coach Cornett came in that day.
How was your life positively impacted by your time at Texas Wesleyan?
Growing up with learning disabilities made my early educational experiences challenging, and I did not think college was really in my cards. I carried this void in my heart for nearly 30 years. It is hard to put into words the magnitude of the gift I received by attending and receiving my bachelor’s degree nearly 30 years after I graduated high school. I did not do it alone, and I want to thank my professors - Dr. Tom Guffey, Dr. Allison Simon, Dr. Greg Gullion, Dr. Meghan Wright, Dr. Claire Stegman and Dr. Victor Polacios. They were all greatly instrumental in helping me to navigate my higher education journey.
My professors looked beyond my learning disabilities and helped me to see my learning abilities. They challenged me to be the best student and person I could be and believed in me. This, in turn, helped me to believe in myself.
That’s incredibly inspirational. Tell us about your TXWES experience!
My experience was amazing. As a non-traditional student I was worried about not fitting in, not being able to connect, or not being able to have a fairly “normal” fun college experience. I had heard of the great reputation TXWES had for being a great learning environment. Because I have learning disabilities, I was looking for a university that had smaller class sizes and was equipped to handle any accommodations I might need and could also provide financial aid to get me started. I remember walking into the admissions and financial aid offices and being greeted so warmly. Staff from these departments not only answered all my questions but also helped me understand the next steps. They didn’t really have to take all the time that they did to help me, but they did … this is how I knew Texas Wesleyan was the place for me!
Attending Texas Wesleyan has truly been one of the best ventures of my life. Even though I was a commuter student, I still felt very connected to the faculty, staff, and students on campus and made many life-long friends and connections. The professors were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about teaching! I believe the education and opportunities I received at TXWES are unbeatable. One day, I would love for my grandchildren to be able to attend there as well!
Wow! We’re so glad to hear what a wonderful experience you had at Texas Wesleyan. Are there any special memories you’d like to share?
I was very active in student life through many campus, organizational and community/charity events, but there’s one thing I can tell you that made the biggest impression on me. The commitment to the TXWES student body that was displayed by staff, faculty and the students themselves. I worked with so many selfless people who just wanted to make a difference or to give back in some way. I am so proud to call them all my RAMily!
I also really miss the everyday comradery just from working and being on campus. Things like the everyday learning conversations with my classmates and professors, studying and working with the best people in the West Library and TXWES Food Pantry.
Texas Wesleyan holds many special memories for me that I will cherish the rest of my life. I am so grateful for all of the life-long friendships I made there. “Once a Ram, ALWAYS a Ram!”
What would you say to donors if you could thank them directly for their support?
How do you truly thank someone for giving you one of the most life changing gifts, other than to make sure you do not waste any opportunities given and that you make the most of it, work hard and make sure to pay it forward to others one day!
But if I could thank each donor directly, I would say:
You made it possible for me to achieve my dream of acquiring my degree. But most importantly, you showed me the importance of helping others and instilled in me the desire to help others the same way. If we could all give of ourselves, our time, our talents or our resources to help someone else, just imagine how many lives we could touch! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this gift!
You can help students just like Jennifer.
On April 28 and April 29, we're raising funds to help Texas Wesleyan University continue providing our students with strong academic programs and crucial financial aid. These gifts really start to add up. And the more people participate, the more we’re able to accomplish together.