Have you ever had a truly inspiring experience? One in which you felt called to action and where you knew life would never be the same? Catherine Hammons has.
Hammons, an actress and writer living in Los Angeles, had worked as a writer and coordinator for Agape International Spiritual Center for eight years when she was asked to lead its Freedom School program. The program is developed by the Children’s Defense Fund and is committed to facilitating students’ interest in reading, learning, and continued education. Part of taking on this role included a training at Haley Farm in Tennessee. The 157-acre farm is steeped in history, having once belonged to Alex Haley, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.”
“When I was there, I was just so profoundly inspired,” says Hammons. “We were sitting there looking at what the Civil Rights movement meant for black families and how it impacted education.”
Hammons considered her own venture into higher education. She began her college career as a theater major at UC-Berkeley right out of high school. But financing her degree grew difficult and since she was interested in acting, earning a formal degree didn’t seem worth the expense. She moved to Los Angeles in her mid-20s in pursuit of an acting career. “For me, it was always expected that we would go to college,” says Hammons. “In fact, it was unusual for me not to finish so I hadn’t fully appreciated the history and struggle. I was so inspired by everything I was learning that I wanted to go back and finish my degree. I wanted to be an example to the children I would be working with through the Freedom program.”
What she has found at ASU is all excellence, according to Hammons. “It has been a great experience,” she says. “I’m in love with everything ASU is doing in the world. It’s an amazing school. I really appreciate that because I wanted to go to the best school that I could possibly go to online. ASU’s courses are amazing. The faculty is amazing. Their global research is incredible and their commitment to creating sustainable programs – just all of it. It’s wonderful to be part of such a great place.”