Project Gratitude

Published in Winter-Spring 2017 edition of ACU Today magazine

Scholarships change lives.

You’ve probably heard that sentiment before, and hopefully you took it to heart. The gift of an education is powerful, and we aren’t the only ones grateful to the donors who give to ACU’s students.

This space is typically reserved for a more by-the-numbers approach to philanthropy, a practical look at how your dollars add up to make a big difference in the ACU community and across the world. This issue, we’re focusing on the people behind those numbers – the dedicated donors, and a few of the students who benefit from their generosity.

By establishing endowed scholarships, which grow over time and pay out annually, donors bless students for generations.
In November 2016, around 500 ACU students participated in a new event called Project Gratitude in which they wrote thank you notes to the benefactors behind the endowed scholarships helping make their education possible.

Here are selections from a handful of those notes as well as information about the scholarships that change lives, year after year.


Mariel Ardila

The senior theatre major from Round Rock, Texas, receives the L.E. and Adrian Memorial Endowed Scholarship. It was established in 1973 by members of the Adrian family, Era McLeod (’27), Rita Norton (’28) and Lucille Wilks (’31).   “ACU has shaped my life in ways I never expected, and I am proud to be a Wildcat. As an artist, I aim to bring beauty and truth to stories, and your support has helped me develop as a Christian artist. Thank you for investing in me.”  

Ojima Edeh

The junior nursing major from Boerne, Texas, receives the George and Martha Abbott Endowed Scholarship. It was established via a testamentary gift in 2010. 
“Because of your support, I am able to come to ACU to study nursing. My dream is to return to my home country, Nigeria, to use my nursing degree to help meet the needs of the people in Nigeria. Thank you for being part of making my dream become a reality.”

Daniel Vargas

The senior accounting major from Carrolton, Texas, receives the Virginia F. Heacock Charitable Foundation Scholarship Endowment. It was established in 2011 to fulfill the late Virginia Heacock’s dream of enabling generations of students to earn an exceptional Christian education in the ACU College of Business Administration. Heacock didn’t attend ACU but her dear friend, Robert R. Onstead, a fellow church member and an ACU trustee, encouraged her to invest in the university. Vargas is on of 62 students who received aid from the endowment this academic year.
“My dreams and aspirations are possible because of your investment in my education. These types of selfless acts give me such joy and motivation to reach my fullest potential. I fully intend on living out the beautiful legacy of Virginia Heacock in my future endeavors. Thank you once again for your continuous generosity and commitment to Christian excellence.”

Adam Andrade

The junior management and political science major from Fort Worth, receives the Judge Ted Poe Endowed Scholarship. It was established in 2005 by Poe (’70), a former judge and current member of the U.S. House of Representatives, to provide financial assistance for students at ACU, especially those preparing for a career in public service.
“Your support through this endowment has made it possible for me to be able to keep attending ACU. Through your generosity, I can remain focused on my dream of becoming a public servant so that I can one day help give back to my Hispanic community. God promised to take care of me through any struggle, and God never breaks a promise. Thank you for believing in me and helping me accomplish the plans He has for me.”

Hundreds of students like these benefit from endowed scholarships each year.

Diego Zometa Paniagua

The sophomore chemistry major from Santa Tecla, El Salvador, receives the International Student Endowed Scholarship. It was established by Ted (’68) and Ellen (Herrmann ’68) Presley in 1997 to provide encouragement and financial support for international students.
“Without your help, I never could have attended ACU. My experience here has been awesome! I have had the chance to meet new friends, incredible professors, and be closer to God! Also, thanks to your help, I was able to participate in research and discover three new molecules! Thank you for helping me build my future. God bless you eternally.”

Alli Collins

The senior family studies major from Vista, Calif., receives the Gail Strickland Noll Endowed Memorial Scholarship. It was established in 1997 by Russell Noll (’79) in loving memory of his wife, Gail (Strickland ’77) Noll

“Mr. Russell Noll, What an incredible man you must be to have been married to a woman like Gail. By just knowing a small bit about her, I feel so encouraged to be living in her honor and feeling the generosity of her prayers. Through this scholarship, I have been able to follow in her footsteps of the hope of somehow impacting the institution of marriage and family by pursuing my graduate degree in marriage and family therapy. I hope to honor her with the same dedication of love and the Good News to my own family and also those families I interact with in my career. Again, thank you for making this possible.”

Christian Casarez

The freshman ministry and vocation major from Northlake, Texas, receives the Ira and Hazle Williams Endowed Scholarship. It was established by Meri (Williams ’95) Allen in 1990 in honor of her parents.
“This has been such a blessing for me, and my family, and has opened many new doors for my future. With your support I can now invest my whole heart and time into the plan God has for me here at ACU. Thank you for giving me this opportunity, and I hope I can bless others along my journey just as you have blessed me! Many blessings. Colossians 3:23.”

Nathan Sherrill

The sophomore information systems major from Abilene receives the Pauline Chamness Aven Scholarship Endowment. It was established in 2010 by Elaine (Aven ’92) Roberson, executrix of the Pauline Chamness Aven estate, in loving memory of her mother. 
“This opportunity made my dreams of attending school a possibility. As a 38-year-old non-traditional student, this scholarship has given my wife, children and myself a sense of relief with the financial difficulties associated with attending a private Christian university. It is a miracle how God blesses those in need. The Pauline Chamness Aven Scholarship Endowment is a blessing to my family and myself. Once again, thank you for this opportunity.”

Kaylan Johnson

The senior marketing major from West Columbia, Texas, also receives the Virginia F. Heacock Charitable Foundation Scholarship Endowment.
“This scholarship has made it possible for my life to be forever changed through my time at ACU. In the College of Business Administration, I have been prepared to achieve great things in the business world as Ms. Heacock did. I believe my spiritual growth has also provided me with the foundation to lead with Christian ethics and a biblical worldview. I am proud to say that Ms. Heacock’s dream is being fulfilled through students like me. I am forever thankful for faithful believers who have paved the way before me. Your friend’s legacy lives on!”