All-Star Scholarship Graduate - Zoe Cottom

April 5th 2016 -

UMPS CARE Charities is excited to announce the graduation of TWO of our All-Star Scholarship recipients, Josh Perrin (the 2011 recipient) and Cadence "Zoe" Cottom (the 2012 recipient). This newsletter will highlight Zoe's achievements and the next newsletter will feature Josh. Below is the full interview with Zoe as she reflected on her time as an All-Star Scholar. To really see how far she has come, read her initial interview with UMPS CARE here.

How did you hear about the UMPS CARE Scholarship?  
My mom who adopted me is the one that told me about it, but she doesn’t remember how!

What did you think when you learned you were the official recipient of the All-Star Scholarship in 2012?
I received a phone call while I was at work at CVS to tell me I got the scholarship. I couldn’t believe it and started crying! I was so excited because I really needed the help with college. My mom took me to lunch on my break and we ate at Wendy’s!

What school are you graduating from and what is your major?
I am graduating from Butler University with a degree in Sociology with a Specialization in Social Work and Social Policy.

What has the value of the scholarship been to you personally?
Attending Butler had been my dream since I was about twelve years old. Unfortunately, it is a very expensive school so my chances of being able to afford it were slim. But once I found out I got the scholarship, I knew I could make my dream happen. And because of that, I am now able to help other children in foster care get adopted.

Do you have any advice for others who can relate to your journey?
Being in foster care and being adopted makes you different than other kids. But I never saw this as a bad thing. I matured at a very young age and learned how to be independent. My advice is to realize how amazing you are for making it through all of the things you’ve had to deal with. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t even our fault, but we’re the ones that have to deal with it. So give yourself a break. Focus on getting through the struggle one day at a time. Because once you reach the other side, you’re a better person because of what you’ve been through. This journey taught me empathy and compassion and that the best things in life aren’t things, but the people you love most.

Your last semester has been spent working a full-time and in school full-time. What exactly are you doing and who are you working for?
This semester has been very hard for me! I’ve juggled a 40 hour work week while taking 13 credit hours (5 classes). It started last semester when I interned at Children’s Bureau, Inc. in Indianapolis for a class requirement. As my internship was ending in December, the Recruitment Coordinator took another position so this job opened up. I was so excited to apply that I didn’t even stop to think about how I’d manage school and work. I am now the Recruitment Coordinator for Indiana Adoption Program (contracted out of Children’s Bureau, Inc.). My job has many facets but I’ll name just a few. First, I work with Adoption Champions all over the state to set up educational events in their communities to recruit prospective parents to adopt waiting children in foster care. I also manage our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). And my favorite part of my job is organizing Adoption Meet & Greet Events. These events are designed to be fun and interactive for prospective families and children in the hopes of facilitating a match. For example, we have done bowling, basketball, and LEGO-themed events, to name a few. It’s a really great aspect of our program because it allows prospective parents to meet 25-35 children in foster care at one time. It allows the prospective parents to go beyond just a photo and biography and actually meet the child. Getting to see a child and prospective parent connect is the most rewarding aspect of the job!

Discuss how you came full-circle and decided to help other children in the foster care system.
Throughout middle school and high school I carried a lot of hostility and animosity. I couldn’t understand why I had to endure all of the pain that I did. I set my mind to becoming nothing like my biological parents. So I started off my college career as a pharmacy student. I wanted to make a lot of money and be successful on my own. During my sophomore year I started to change mindsets and realized that I didn’t want to have a job based on money. I wanted to do something to change lives. I initially thought about law school, but instead chose sociology because that was the closest thing Butler offered to social work. Giving back to the system has been a goal since I changed my major. I know that many people have negative feelings about “the system” and DCS, but it saved my life. And while I can never repay that, I can help teens and youth who are in the same place I was just ten years ago! Many people have the misconception that they can’t change the lives of teens in foster care, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. These teens not only want families, but can thrive with families. I wouldn’t be who I am today if my mom hadn’t taken a chance and adopted me at the age of 13.

How has your college experience and the UMPS CARE scholarship help instilled a sense of giving back?
Last July I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a Cubs vs Cardinals game at Wrigley Field where I met Crew Chief Ted Barrett and his wife Tina. They’ve sent me many wonderful care packages over the years but I was excited when I finally got to meet them. They are two of the most gracious, generous, and caring people I’ve met. And it is because of people like them that I’ve had the opportunities I’ve had. I feel that it is both my duty and my privilege to give back to others so that they may succeed as well.

Do you feel like having the opportunity to attend Butler has better prepared you for the professional life that lies ahead of you?
Butler is an incredible university. I chose to come here because I love the small class sizes. I’ve been able to have close relationships with all of my professors and that has really allowed me to grow. The professor that oversaw my internship, Dr. Novak, was always so helpful in providing advice and guidance. She believed in me when I said I wanted to work full-time this semester. I don’t feel like I could’ve received the same attention and care at another university. Butler prides itself on a “community of care” and it really exists. I hope to be able to emulate my professors in my professional career.
  - See more at: http://umpscare.com/Newsletters.html#Get to Know an Ump - CB Bucknor