Cortni Williams ('16) | Psychology

Cortni Williams ('16) | Psychology

Not every college student spends Friday night the way ACU sophomore Cortni Williams and her friends did in January.

On a day when a polar vortex pushed temperatures toward zero, Cortni and her friends bought blankets from Walmart and, for more than three hours, handed them out to homeless men and women standing on the Abilene roadsides.

“It was hard and cold,” she said, “but it was worth it, especially when we saw the people’s faces.”

Service like that isn’t unusual for Cortni, who grew up with a heart for helping others and plans to continue doing so through a career as a criminal defense attorney.

The psychology major and political science minor grew up in Sherman before moving to The Woodlands in high school. Although she applied to ACU, she expected to enroll elsewhere until she visited the campus.

“It’s all a Jesus thing,” she said. “I fell in love.”

With scholarships paying more than half her tuition, Cortni has thrown herself into serving others – visiting with seniors at local assisted-living facilities every Thursday. Next semester, she plans to join World’s Backyard, a ministry in which ACU students spend time and play with children of international refugees now living in Abilene.

“I’ve been really doing service all my life,” Cortni said. “It’s something I really enjoy doing. It’s all about helping other people.”

Cortni also works in the ACU Calling Center, which contacts alumni and friends to build, strengthen and renew relationships with them, as well as offer the opportunity to support ACU students and programs financially.

After a rocky introduction, Cortni said she sees the job as an extension of her drive to serve others.

“I did have a couple of weeks where I wanted to quit,” she said. “It’s something I’ve grown to love – how to care for people even though you don’t really know them. Even if they can’t give a lot, I want to show them I still care about them. We may not know each other, but we are still a family.”

Cortni sees the connection between her job and the scholarships that allow her to attend ACU – alumni and friends who give to the university make the ACU experience possible for her and her friends, who in turn transform the lives of others through acts of service like the one they performed that cold January evening.

“I wouldn’t be able to come here if I didn’t have the scholarships,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here. Half my friends wouldn’t be here. I just thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

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