Fulton recipient of rent-free apartment for one year

Arbor Creek Scholarship helps MSU Texas grad student

From the moment Eric Fulton took his first general psychology class, he knew he wanted to help people with mental health issues. “Yes, as corny as that sounds, it’s true,” he said. But getting from that first class to a bachelor’s degree to beginning his master’s program this fall has been anything but simple. Work, financial, and parenting responsibilities combined with the disruption of Covid have made completing his education a challenge.

One thing Fulton will not need to worry about is rent. He is the recipient of this year’s Arbor Creek Scholarship, valued at approximately $7,500, which provides a one-bedroom apartment to a graduate student rent-free for one year. Arbor Creek Apartments and Hayley Residential have supported Midwestern State University’s graduate students with this scholarship for the past 14 years.

In 2009, Arbor Creek management personnel realized how overwhelming the financial consequences could be when a college graduate decides to pursue an advanced degree. They stepped in to help, according to Haley Residential regional manager Kathie Tant. Since then, the scholarship has provided 14 students with a place to live without the burden of rent.

Tant gives credit to all the Arbor Creek staff for supporting and maintaining the scholarship. “We love doing this,” she said.

Fulton’s college career began at Vernon College when his son was an infant. His full-time work schedule, a 12-hour course load, and caring for his child was a challenge; but he feels that those aspects contributed to his strong understanding of responsibility.

When Covid hit in 2020, Fulton was a junior at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He had received an ECU psychology department scholarship, which paid for his senior year, but decided moving back to the Wichita Falls area was the best thing he could do at the time. “Moving home allowed me to work part time and take care of my son while finishing my degree online,” he said. Finishing his bachelor’s online was difficult, but he earned his degree in psychology from ECU, and this fall began his journey toward his master’s degree at MSU Texas.

Staying in the Wichita Falls area has allowed him not only to earn his master’s but also to use his bachelor’s degree for part-time employment and to have his son in a familiar environment around family,” he said.

Kathryn Zuckweiler, Dean of the Dr. Billie Doris McAda Graduate School, said that MSU Texas is fortunate to have partnerships with community businesses such as Arbor Creek that recognize and foster academic success. “This is a huge benefit because it helps make earning a graduate degree more affordable, and in some cases, is life-changing for the recipient,” Zuckweiler said.

Zuckweiler said she knows Fulton will make the most of this opportunity. “I’m extremely grateful to Kathie Tant and Haley Residential for their generous support of Midwestern State University, the McAda Graduate School, and our students.”

After earning his master’s degree, Fulton plans to earn his doctorate from the University of North Texas while working in Wichita Falls and using the knowledge and skills learned at MSU Texas to help the community. After earning his doctorate, he plans to stay and work in this area. “I hope to help by providing services that aid in healing mental health issues in our community,” he said.

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