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Throughout her journey at ACU, Hannah Choquette has often found herself asking a simple question when greeted with generosity: “Why?”
Her bewilderment, unfortunately, comes naturally to her. Passed between divorced parents living on opposite sides of the country, surrounded by substance abuse, a victim of physical and sexual abuse and at one point homeless, Hannah’s upbringing was often one of darkness.
A Fresh Start
Hannah spent part of her junior year doing something most high schoolers never experience – testifying in court against a sexually abusive relative, who was convicted and imprisoned.
The moment after the guilty verdict was declared and the trial was over, Hannah felt peace.
“It was just a very freeing moment,” she said. “This giant weight was lifted off me. That was probably the first moment I ever experienced God and His love for me.”
Moving from Boston, Mass., to live with relatives in Royse City, Texas, was her chance for a fresh start. Her family members in Texas are Christians, but Hannah remained cynical about God when she first moved south. It wasn’t until her revelation after the trial that she began attending church and making new friends at school, friends who introduced her to ACU.
She was baptized her senior year and became serious about college.
“I knew where I go to school matters,” Hannah said.
“[I thought], I want to be different than my family; I want to be different than what happened to me. I don’t want to just be a statistic.”
A New Home
When Hannah first visited the ACU campus, she was moved to tears watching a video presentation for prospective students.
“I absolutely fell in love with this school,” she said.
“I had never seen community modeled. I had never really seen what it looks like to live in an atmosphere where people supported each other, and they did it from the perspective of Jesus and serving.”
She applied and was accepted, but even with scholarships and financial aid, attending was out of her reach. She had nothing.
Hannah told her admissions counselor she couldn’t attend, keeping details about her past to herself. Intent on her coming, her counselor contacted her family and learned the truth about her ordeal. Just in time for freshman orientation, he called her with news: He’d found a group of donors who would pay the rest of her way at school. She had a new home now – ACU.
“I just lost it, absolutely lost it,” Hannah said.
“I don’t understand why you love me,” she told her counselor. “Why?” This is God’s doing, he told her – “I know you’re supposed to come here.”
Hannah’s ACU story is full of other blessings, large and small. The parents of her freshman roommate outfitted her dorm for her. Numerous families took her in as one of their own. A friend of her grandparents, whom she had never met, let her know she had been praying for Hannah all her life, then paid for her rent during school and provided a laptop.
“I didn’t understand it at the time, and it’s still a process of me learning to receive it,” she said. “Everything that I dream up, the Lord’s like, No, bigger. You better start [thinking big], because I do big.”
“It’s Worth It”
Hannah is a member of Lynay and the Sigma Theta Chi social club, leads a life group at Beltway Park Baptist Church and is completing her senior practicum in social work at Hendrick Medical Center. She has received several scholarship and honor awards, including the A.B. Barret Award, the Servant Leader Award, the Nancy Zickefoose “Yellow Rose” Endowed Scholarship and the Margaret L. Teague Spirit of ACU Award. And she leads campus tours, sharing her love of ACU with prospective students and parents.
With each day, Hannah understands more and more the power of unconditional love. It became even clearer to her in the summer of 2015, when she worked in Costa Rica with the group Youth With A Mission, spending time with locals and spreading the Gospel.
Hannah shared her testimony one night. Afterward, with the help of a translator, several people thanked her for telling her story – and shared their own.
“[I thought], Jesus, everything that I have ever been through is worth it just for this one person to know you,” she said. “It’s worth it for this one person to experience even just the smidge of healing that I have.
“After being there, I realized that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be a missionary. I want to be able to devote my life to just loving and serving people like this in the way people have loved and served me.”
Hannah plans to return to Costa Rica after graduation. She still catches herself asking “Why” when she is shown love, but now she can remind herself of the answer.
“ACU really is family,” she said. “I’ve met my family here. I’ve met my life-long friends.
“I grew up here.”
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