Her childhood was at times ugly and terrifying. Her early adulthood often showed residual signs of the harm that abuse can do as her suffering continued and she failed classes at the local community college. Then one day, her journey took a different path, beginning with the supportive ears of advocates at her local rape crisis center.
In 2013, Cobb’s advocate at Sanctuary in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, told her about a special scholarship for abuse survivors that had been created by the University of Kentucky Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women (OPSVAW) in the College of Arts and Sciences. The suggestion that Cobb apply for the Verizon Wireless Women’s Empowerment Scholarship seemed unlikely at the time, but within hours Cobb had completed and submitted the application.
Cobb’s journey became a whirlwind with the news that she had been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Verizon Wireless Women’s Empowerment Scholarship.
As her academic life progressed, Cobb collected one honor after another. She was named a member of the National Honor Society with a 3.5 GPA and a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars for her “commitment to the ideals of scholarship, leadership and service.”
With her head high, shoulders back, eyes bright with justifiable self-pride, Cobb stepped on the University of Kentucky Commencement stage last month to accept the diploma in health science clinical leadership and management she earned. The inaugural Verizon Wireless Women’s Empowerment Scholarship recipient held a diploma in her hand.
That’s far from the end of the Brandie Cobb story, however.
Her days in the collegiate classroom are not over. Graduate school is firmly dead center on Cobb’s horizon, a destination she never imagined for herself, but one that many of her friends imagined for her.
“The Verizon Wireless Women’s Empowerment Scholarship changed my life, and now I want to show other women what they are capable of accomplishing,” said Cobb, a Muhlenberg County native. "I’ve been given the opportunity to start a whole new life for myself. I want to do whatever I can to bring awareness to the issue of abuse.”
The UK Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women (OPSVAW) in the UK College of Arts and Sciences created the Verizon Wireless Women’s Empowerment Scholarship in 2013 to give women access to education as a means of escaping violence and abuse or diminishing the effects of child or adulthood victimization. A second scholarship winner currently sits in the wings, impatiently waiting for her first day in a college classroom this coming fall.
Verizon Wireless was the first to generously support the scholarship program with a $100,000 donation from its HopeLine phone-recycling program, but the ultimate goal, said OPSVAW Executive Director Carol E. Jordan, is find sponsors to fund a total of five Women’s Empowerment Scholarships.
“Watching Brandie use the Verizon Wireless Women’s Empowerment Scholarship to launch a new life will be a great motivation for all survivors who follow her in holding the scholarship,” Jordan said. “It has been a profound inspiration for those of us who have stood with Brandie to cheer her on.”
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