These women have opened up their hearts about their experiences before, during and after their time at this all-women's college.
While each has their own unique story, there's been a common theme throughout: Cottey is a transformational experience that allows students to grow personally and professionally into confident women.
When they leave, they're equipped with a lifelong sisterhood of mentors at their backs, best friends by their sides and memories that last forever.
9News captured her story in 2012 as the teen who wanted to break out of the Colfax cycle. Even being surrounded by drug dealers and prostitutes (some 12 and 13 years of age), she knew she wanted to go to college, but didn't know where to start, as no one in her family had done it.
Briauna worked hard at George Washington High School to get good grades - even after she got pregnant. Then, the family who adopted her daughter was her ticket to a better life. They hired an advisor to help her apply for college and obtain scholarships, and luckily, they knew about Cottey College.
"When I came up for one of the preview weekend tours, I knew I wanted to go here," said Briauna. "The food was really good and the people were awesome. What really stood out to me were the girls who were touring us around called 'golden keys.' It was clear they were supposed to drive home all the positive things about Cottey, but I loved how honest they were about it, too. They said there was definitely going to be girl drama (nothing serious though) and even though it was all women, there would still be boy problems. Their honesty showed me they were strong and willing to stand up for what's true, and this made me feel like I could do the same."
She received scholarships from the Denver area Cottey Club and landed government grants. Today, she's on track to be the first person in her family to graduate college (in spring 2016), will be going into her third year as an R.A., is currently getting a bachelor's in psychology, aiming for grad school and planning to work with kids who have autism.
When asked what she'll miss most about Cottey, she said she'll miss the supportive atmosphere. "Here, you're part of a community. Everywhere else you're just another face," she said. "Cottey has taught me that I, myself, have value...and can do anything. You CAN be an individual, and you CAN stand up and be strong."
Nicole Vap, who's now an Executive Producer at 9News, will be talking about her experiences at the college. Here's a snippet of Nicole's story:
Cottey College was the only school Nicole applied to, thanks to a bus trip to Cottey that inspired her when she was a little girl. As a woman from a small town in Nebraska, she had a very limited idea of what she could do for the rest of her life, but Cottey showed her that she could do anything. Nicole learned how important it is for women to collaborate and work together - not compete against each other.
Even before the school started international trips and the business leadership programs, Nicole was able to get an international experience on Cottey's campus alone. She had girls from places like Japan, France and Africa and found it so fascinating to learn about everyone else's lives.
Nicole met some of her best friends at Cottey who are now based in Denver and all around the country. Nicole was the manager of the radio station for two semesters and loved it. For her, this college gave her great confidence in who she was and what she wanted to do. When she stepped foot into a big, four-year school after Cottey, she was more prepared than ever. She was ready to just GO for it!
"All of the professors were so different and came from so many different places and gave someone like me — a girl from a very small town with a very limited idea of what I could do for the rest of my life — the idea that anything is possible...that you could go and do anything, " said Nicole.
We also got to talking about her role as an executive, mother and wife. She has a a strong partnership with her husband and has 10- and 14-year-old kids. Nicole was brought up by a mom who worked, so to her, it never felt like she had the option not to work. It just feels natural. She likes to think she's better at both roles because she has both roles. Nicole believes there's a different kind of patience that you learn as a parent - you're always learning.
If you're interested in attending the Sept. 25 wine and cheese reception focused on Women: Leaders for the 21st Century, you can RSVP to email@example.com or 877-426-8839.
Lucinda grew up in a small, Midwestern town in Illinois with all brothers, so for her, going to Cottey with all girls was enticing. ;)
Her mother was a PEO, but didn't push her to attend. She was instead inspired through a friend.
Cottey taught Lucinda to stand up for herself. "I was the littlest in my class, but I spoke my mind," she said. "The size of the school helped. They deliberately put you into groups, starting first with your suite. Then, you were able to join one of the four 'societies' on campus which made everyone feel like they were part of SOMETHING."
Here were just some of the memories she mentioned during our chat:
- Sit-down Sunday dinners with a five-star chef ..."His name was Delano. He was ultra fabulous."
- 8-10 immediate friends in the housing suites
- "You were NEVER afraid to ask a question in class. Your question was NEVER wrong, never out of line and always appreciated. You learned so much from the other students there as well."
- Each dorm had a student officer and even a song leader. Singing was and still is a HUGE thing at Cottey. There are traditional songs that each class and dorm sing to each other.
- "The Class of 1975 was called The Class of Change. We went from being locked out of our dorms at night to being able to have key cards. We were the first class to be able to have cars. We didn't need parental signatures to stay out over night. These were big changes and a BIG deal!"
So, she encouraged her daughter to go see the campus without her, and when she returned, she talked for 4.5 hours nonstop and immediately filled out her application. She said, "Mom, they made me feel like a PERSON."
"My heart does really belong there," said Lucinda.
This Political Reporter for The Denver Post was named one of Colorado's 10 most influential women in 2012.
Lynn confessed to me that she flunked out her first semester at Cottey. What was she doing with all her time you ask? Well, she certainly wasn't studying or going to class. She instead couldn't get enough of talking and hanging out with all the other girls. Lynn came from a family of nine kids, so being around people her own age 24/7 was so exciting.
"I still think back about it all the time," Lynn said. Between the skits, singing, dancing, sit-down dinners and talking late into the night, how could you blame her?
Don't worry. Lynn obviously snapped back into academic gear her second semester when she made the Dean's List.
She wasn't an arts person or musically inclined but loved being around all the artistic and creative happenings at Cottey. The atmosphere fostered so much creative freedom. She couldn't believe how smart everyone was.
"Here's what I loved about Cottey," Lynn dished. "Going to Cottey meant your class president was going to be a woman. The person with the highest GPA was going to be a woman. It was always going to be a woman."
For Lynn (and all the alumnae I've spoken to), to this day, she can pick up where she left off with anyone who went to Cottey - even if she didn't run around them. This is a prime example of The Cottey Factor.
Whether Cottey College is new to you or the catalyst for your successful career, Dr. Judy Rogers (President of Cottey College) and Nicole Vap invite YOU along with other Denver-area women of influence to join them as they discuss:
WOMEN: Leaders for the 21st Century
A wine and cheese reception
Sept. 25 // 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Sage Room – Oxford Hotel
1600 17th St., Denver
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-426-8839. NO cost to attend. Space is limited!