Working 40 hours a week – as a freshman – Armani Guillama was struggling to keep his head above water.

“I was stressing so much on how I was going to pay ACU month to month and not paying any attention to my grades,” Armani said. “I thought I was on top of my grades, but they were bad.”

The psychology major from Clyde was already a member of Lynay, a student organization focused on service and developing relationships within the community. But he had no idea the role it would play during his next three years.

Lynay advisor and ACU vice president Dr. Gary McCaleb (’64) recognized Armani’s situation and asked him to stop by his office. Armani was reluctant.

Armani wasn’t used to having a support network; he is the first in his family to attend college and knew it would be a challenge. Raised by his grandmother and moving around often, he said he never really experienced a stable family environment until the spring of his senior year of high school. It was then when he became a Christian, developed ties with two Abilene-area families and learned about ACU.

At school, McCaleb helped him realize the resources that were at his fingertips, Armani said – groups like Lynay and scholarships provided by generous donors like you that provide support for students who want to succeed.

Armani turned to his Lynay peers for encouragement and campus leaders such as McCaleb for guidance. Soon, his grades turned around, and as he approaches his senior year, Armani already is considering attending law school.

“Lynay is such a great place to receive advice and encouragement,” he said. “It’s a place where people can be real and people can just be open.”

“ACU is more than just a university; it’s a family,” he said. “You meet your lifelong friends here. Looking back, I now see how God was with me each and every step of the way in my life. Even though I was not a believer when I was younger – even though I had no idea who He was – He was with me.”

Armani knows he has a lot to be grateful for and hopes to be able to return the favor in some way when he graduates, whether that be helping others or giving back to those that have given so much to him.

“I’m so grateful to all the families and friends that have helped me throughout my life to help me to get to where I’m at now,” he said. “They’ve done something they didn’t have to do, but they’re willing to do.”

Published: March 2017

Armani Guillama (’18)