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Despite growing up in poverty Stephane Cosby is determined to build a better life for herself and her son.
“I had a wonderful family…but I kind of thought that there was a fundamental difference between us and successful people,” she said. Even though she was an outstanding student she decided that her place had already been determined. In school, when people around her spoke of going to college or their plans for the future, Stephane didn’t understand how that related to her or her future. “I just didn’t even hear it,” she said. “They weren’t talking to me about those opportunities.”
She ended up dropping out of school in 10th grade. “It just seemed kind of pointless,” she said. “I didn’t understand what I was doing there.”
For the next decade, Stephane would live a life of couch surfing, sleeping in her truck and suffering a serious health scare. “I was living in Hawaii, just kind of sleeping on a beach, and I got really sick,” she said. “I got an infection on my leg…getting in to see a doctor was not something that was within the realm of possibility for me.” And like Stephane, this is the reality for many people living in poverty.
Once Stephane received treatment, she finally decided her purpose in life; she was going to enter the field of medicine. “I thought….I can help people,” she said. “I thought I could go into medicine and was so excited.”
She decided to return home to Colorado and enroll in Front Range Community College. Still unable to afford a permanent residence, she was living in her truck and waitressing full time as she worked toward her degree. “I fell in love with my education and realized that I really wanted to be a woman of science,” she said.
When Stephane became pregnant, she wasn’t sure how she would be able to provide for her son. Rather than have him repeat the cycle of poverty that she grew up in, she became even more determined to finish her education. “My only real option was to go back to school and find a way to not only provide for Finn but show him that a meaningful life is possible,” she said.
With the support of United Way’s WomenGive program, Stephanie was able to finish school and place Finn in stimulating and trusted childcare. “Now he gets to interact with other kids…he comes home and tells me stories,” she said.
Stephanie has recently graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and plans to attend graduate school to become a physician’s assistant. Through her strong will, determination to succeed, and the WomenGive scholarship, Stephane and Finn are finally at a place of true financial stability. “Now we have a home and a place to keep our toothbrushes,” she said.
Stephane is just one of hundreds of individuals who have benefitted from United Way of Larimer County’s emphasis on Financial Stability. Our programs and partnerships focus on a pathway from poverty to self-sufficiency through job training, case management and access to resources and support, including disaster response and recovery.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County