Recent News News Archives News Categories

Jessica Catlett has found a place to learn and grow at HPU

Jessica CatlettBROWNWOOD – April 2, 2018 – When one of her high school teachers recommended she look at Howard Payne University, Jessica Catlett was hesitant at first.

She was initially nervous about leaving home in Alleyton to attend college more than four hours away in Brownwood. However, she decided to follow her teacher’s advice. She scheduled a visit and quickly knew where she would be going to college.

“Immediately, I just loved HPU so much,” she said. “I felt peace here. When I arrived to visit, the campus felt like home. Every person we met was welcoming and kind.”

The friendly atmosphere that HPU exudes is one reason Catlett has enjoyed her time at HPU so much. For her, the faculty have contributed significantly to the appeal of HPU.

“The professors here want their students to succeed so much,” she said. “Because they want us to succeed, they do everything possible to help us. That is what makes HPU so unique. Our professors care genuinely for us.”

Catlett, now a junior, is a double major in social work and the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy. When she began college, she felt she might not be prepared for the challenge of the Honors Academy and that it would not fit her academic goals.

The multidisciplinary honors program was founded as the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom in 1962 under the guidance of its current namesake, Dr. Guy D. Newman, HPU president from 1955 to 1973. The Honors Academy’s aim is to equip intellectually gifted students with knowledge to excel as citizens and a proficient grasp of political systems to become leaders in their communities. Twenty-five students are admitted to the Honors Academy per year.

“Going into the Honors Academy, I was super intimidated,” she said. “I was expecting to find many political science majors and felt I wouldn’t fit in with my major. But, there are actually a wide variety of other students with other majors in the Honors Academy.”

According to Catlett, the curriculum of the Honors Academy has been complimentary to her other classes and has benefitted her personally.

“Some people think the Honors Academy is just for people who want to go into politics. It’s really not,” she said. “It teaches us how our government operates and how to be a good citizen.”

In addition to in-class studies, there are many other opportunities provided by the Honors Academy. One such opportunity is the Sumners Scholar Program, from which Catlett herself benefits.

The Sumners Scholar Program is administered by the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation to provide students displaying academic excellence, a sense of civic responsibility and leadership potential with an additional resource to supplement their education. The program includes a scholarship provided by the Sumners Foundation. Each year, up to twelve students are nominated from HPU’s Guy D. Newman Honors Academy to take part in the program.

As a Sumners Scholar, Catlett attends leadership and political science conferences facilitated by the Sumners Foundation throughout the year. She said the Sumners program and the curriculum in the Honors Academy have helped to bring her two seemingly unrelated majors together.

“If I ever wanted to become an advocate,” she said, “the Honors Academy and the Sumners program are really teaching me ways to do that better, and learn about policies not just related to social work, but also ways that I can help people through policies.”

In addition to her involvement in the Honors Academy, she is a part of the Social Work Club, serves on the Baptist Student Ministry leadership team, is a member of honors organization Gamma Beta Phi, participates in Model UN and works as a resident assistant in Veda Hodge Hall, the women’s residence hall on the HPU campus.

Catlett spoke highly of the benefits of being active in organizations at HPU to students and the impact that organizations have had on her.

“Organizations here are a great way to make friends and help me to become invested in HPU even more because of all the great things we are doing,” she said. “When you are involved on campus, you enjoy your experience more and it is a way for you to serve others.”

Catlett’s time at HPU has been a significant influence on her life. When choosing to attend college, she was concerned about not finding where she fit. However, at HPU she has managed to do that well, growing personally in the process.

Looking back on her time in college, she named specific areas of her life in which she has seen growth through the years.

“Coming to HPU and knowing it is a safe place where I wouldn’t get lost has helped me mature a lot, boosted my confidence and really helped solidify who I am in Christ.”

Applications are being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University. HPU offers a variety of financial aid options. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Jessica Catlett of Alleyton has found HPU to be a great place to study and belong.