Catherine Venable Shares a Remarkable Journey of Faith and Perseverance
Graduating from University of Mount Olive is such a wonderful accomplishment for me, because prior to now I have never followed through with anything in my life. As a teenager, I was rebellious to my mom, didn’t finish high school, got pregnant at 17 and by the time I was 23 I had 4 children. I did, however, manage to get my GED the year after I was suppose to have graduated from high school, but from there my life took on a terrible turn.
I became addicted to drugs, and I lived a life that was unimaginable. I was a single mom who was physically abused by my children’s father. It took me almost a decade to get away from him because he was not only my children’s father, but he was also my supplier. It took God to open my eyes one day and allow me to see the damage that I was doing to myself.
I have always been a small framed woman, but I became so thin that I could see every bone in my body. It was not my strength that pulled me out, but the grace of God and the petitions made by mother on my behalf that pulled me through. Life was not easy raising four children and living everyday to stay clean. I had lost the respect of my family members and friends. They all shut me out as if I was useless.
On November 13, 2003 I packed a bag of clothes for me and each of my kids. I caught a ride to Mount Olive, NC to start my life over. It was rough because I had only two relatives here that I had not seen since I was a little girl (I’m 43 now). I was so stressed out. The doctors gave me so many medications that I could have started my own pharmacy. Again, it was the grace of God that got me through it. I eventually got on my feet, and on two occasions I moved out of Mount Olive, but each time I did something that always led me back.
In 2006 I took a seasonal job at Mount Olive Pickle Company and I met a co-worker whom I thought was weird at the time. I really didn’t even like him much. Because of all the things that I had gone through with my children’s father, a man was the last thing on my mind. This co-worker turned out to be the best friend ever. We were married in 2007. He convinced me to go to school and pursue my dreams. He held our home down while I focused on school. When I cried because I thought I wasn’t smart enough, he dried my tears and assured me that I was. When assignments seemed too difficult, he sat with me and helped me through. When I procrastinated, he stayed on me. When I felt like school was just too overwhelming, he hugged me so I would feel a sense of calmness. He turned out to be the very reflection of God’s love for me.
University of Mount Olive turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. Along with my husband, a few members of the faculty and staff helped me through some tragic ordeals that hit during my educational pursuit. The loss of my granddaughter, and having to say goodbye to my son three days later took me for a mental loop. University of Mount Olive must have had me in mind when they planned how this institution would operate. It not only fed me intellectually, but also spiritually. Along with my husband, the people at University of Mount Olive were the tools that God used when keeping me afloat.
I thank God just for being God; I thank my husband for caring enough; and I thank University of Mount Olive just for being open to the voice of God and caring enough to help me rebuild myself. I LOVE YOU ALL. University of Mount Olive is a wonderful place!