High Hopes for Higher Learning

UNC student Tyler Cobb

First-year UNC student Tyler Cobb, who was homeless two years ago, takes a break outside her residence hall. Photo by Stephanie Burchett

Editor’s Note: A little more than two years ago, first-year UNC student Tyler Cobb and her mother were living in their car. They found themselves homeless after her mother’s fiancé, who had been supporting them, suffered a serious brain injury in Iraq and ultimately was no longer part of their lives. Tyler persevered through the hard times to complete high school. Here, she shares some of her thoughts about her journey from homelessness to higher education.

Being accepted after my second time applying to the University of Northern Colorado was a spectacular feeling. What made it so was that I was taking a chance reapplying instead of just trying a different school, with college deadlines approaching fast.

I knew from the moment I stepped foot on the university that this would be where I would want to continue my education. There are so many things about UNC that I found exceptionally unique and that could better me as a student as well as in individual.

But could someone who has been through so many obstacles such as I attend such an incredible university? Absolutely, or so I thought, until my application was denied. I immediately had begun to panic because I had not applied anywhere else, and I saw higher education as my only way toward a better life for myself.

My college advisor at Thomas Jefferson High School suggested community college, and I simply told her, “That just won’t do.” After explaining to her my fall into temporary homelessness, academic struggles during that span and loss of a loved one in the war in Iraq, she suggested I reapply.

I retook the ACT test, wrote a letter of reconsideration and had a sit-down meeting with Office of Admissions staff explaining my extenuating circumstances all in hopes of being admitted.

Later that day, after the meeting, I got a call from my college advisor telling me that I had been admitted! From that point on I had begun to pave my road toward success. I had done so by becoming an honorable mention senior, speaking at graduation, being awarded the Denver Scholarship, writing an article for the Denver Post, doing a commercial for the Denver Scholarship Foundation, becoming a UNC cheerleader and so on.

Needless to say I am more than happy to be attending UNC and all because I had the courage and perseverance to reapply.

Independent Youth at UNC
A total of 70 (40 are new students) UNC students are considered independent youth who come from one of a number of backgrounds, including homeless or foster care situations, or who have no custodial parent. A UNC program connects them to a wide range of services, including academic, financial aid and social/cultural programs, in taking the lead in developing a collaborative model to support independent youth.