When home life unraveled, student found ‘safe place’ at Seminole State
Thursday, November 3, 2022
Written by: Emily Hollingshead
“In the midst of everything – Seminole State really did save me. It gave me an outlet and a safe place, even though I didn’t say much about my home life, when I was there I just felt like I belonged and for someone who has gone to different schools and has had different experiences – Seminole State makes you feel like family,” said Shan’tia Cobb.
Cobb was always a bright student and started college at FIU, but after a family tragedy and overextending herself, she changed schools several times and moved to Orlando. She realized she lived close to the Seminole State College of Florida Altamonte Springs Campus and switched one final time in 2008. “When I went to Seminole Community College at that time, it honestly felt like a fresh start,” she said, and Cobb took advantage of that fresh start. She got involved with the Student Government Association, community service and founded the African American Multicultural Club on the Altamonte Springs Campus.
“In the midst of all of that, my whole life started to shatter,” Cobb explained. “Right before coming to Seminole State I met my ex-husband. I was 18 getting ready to turn 19 and he was really encouraging in the beginning, but alcoholism created this shift where school was great, but my home life started to get really bad. It started with verbal abuse, then emotional and eventually became physical.”
Cobb dove deeper into school when she could. “I was taking four or five classes constantly and spread them all out because it allowed me to go to school really early and not go home until really late,” she said. Despite spending an abundance of time at school and making connections with counselors, teachers and friends, she didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone about the abuse, not even her mom.
She continued working toward her Associate in Arts and took a psychology class on marriage and family, where they spent two chapters learning about domestic violence as she lived through it. “I will never forget that class,” she said. “I would hear all these other students saying ‘This couldn’t be me. You could just walk away,’ and it is not that easy to walk away.” The one time Cobb tried to defend herself, part of her hair was pulled out from the root, and that was when she finally confided in her mother, who urged her to leave the relationship.
Ultimately though, it was due to her daughter that Cobb found the strength to leave. “The guilt and feeling like I owed him something was why I stayed. You finally go ‘OK the only person I owe something to is myself’ and now, my daughter. So I need to go, and I never looked back,” Cobb said. She put in for a transfer at work back to South Florida where she could be close to her mother and pretended as though the transfer was mandatory. On the day she left, her ex-husband came home early, and she had to convince him to hand over their daughter for a moment and make her escape once he had gone inside. Once she hit the highway, she remembers the feeling of how her whole life changed.
Looking back, Cobb said “Seminole State allowed me to leave my mark, even when people didn’t know everything about me. I’m still close to those friends and the students I mentored. I see them, my friends, running for local office, and they have their own law firms and are traveling the world, and to know I was a mentor to those people and I was doing good in school, it was truly a blessing.”
Cobb continues to leave her mark as she has spent the last three years volunteering as a Guardian Ad Litem, being a voice for the children in the 17th circuit court. She has co-founded her own business, Wisdom, LLC, and is planning to pursue psychology at Florida Memorial University, FAMU or UCF to get her bachelor’s and eventually her master’s. She hasn’t decided whether she would want to get a Ph.D. yet, though she happily admits, “Dr. Cobb does sound nice.”
Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu
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