In high school, Isabel Cobb was a one-woman band. Now she heads to college with a full VSAC scholarship.

Written by
Dilys Pierson

Date
August 10, 2021

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Isabel Cobb is used to swimming in a fairly small pond. The majority of her graduating class at Springfield High School has been together since kindergarten. The school band was so small — only six students total — that Isabel had to learn to play six different instruments. (Which one did she like the best? “Oh, I can’t say. I loved them all!” she says, listing the clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax, baritone sax, keyboard, and drums.)

After a bittersweet outdoor graduation ceremony, where a lot of tears mixed with the day’s raindrops, Isabel is ready to move on to her next step: a two-year program in health sciences at the Community College of Vermont, which will prepare her for further study in nursing. She’s been interested in the health care field for long enough that she doesn’t quite remember where the initial spark came from. “It’s definitely been a long time since I first said, ‘Ooh! Nursing!’” she recalls, in her typical bubbly fashion.

When classes start in the fall, Isabel plans to make the 40-minute drive to White River Junction to learn in person. “I’m sick of online learning at this point!” she says with a good-natured giggle. What she’s most looking forward to about college isn’t so much the science classes she’ll take, though she says that’s a given. “I feel like a lot of the college experience is meeting new people, and it’ll be a different town than I’m used to. So who knows who I’ll meet?”

Isabel was born and raised in Springfield and is the oldest of two children. She hopes to be the first in her family to graduate from college.

Isabel’s college aspirations have already started to rub off on her brother Spencer, who is 14 and has his sights set on studying engineering. “He’s already going crazy as a freshman,” she says.

Isabel has worked with the VSAC GEAR UP program since 9th grade and says that that planted the seed of her going to college.

“I remember in middle school when we were first introduced to VSAC, we learned a lot about what it means to go to college and how to apply to college. Just the introduction of it at that early age, before high school, was really helpful,” she recalls. “Before starting that VSAC program, I thought that I might want to go to college, but I didn’t know how to, or what to do, or how to get there, or any of that.”

It turns out, working with the GEAR UP program set Isabel up to earn her associate degree, and possibly her bachelor’s, completely free of charge.

“I got a handful of scholarships, enough to cover tuition and books,” she says. And depending on where she chooses to go for her nursing degree, her VSAC scholarships may continue as she pursues her bachelor’s.

“VSAC is a life-saver!” she says.

While Isabel is modest about her academic success, VSAC counselor Jessi Krause Herron easily attests to Isabel’s winning attitude, focus, and self-advocacy. “Isabel is one of those students who always shows up for meetings and activities with a smile on her face and a friendly, warm demeanor. She’s eager to learn and takes advantage of opportunities available to her that will help her create a successful future for herself.”

When asked where she sees herself in 10 years, Isabel is a little unsure about the geographic “where” — perhaps Vermont, perhaps New Hampshire, or maybe even Florida, where her best friend is moving this summer. But she’s pretty certain she wants to work in a trauma center. “I guess I’m drawn to the fast pace, the adrenaline rush,” she says. “And Grey’s Anatomy might have helped a little bit too!” she admits.

This summer, she’ll begin her health care career with an internship at the Springfield Health Center. She’s looking forward to helping patients through illness from a different perspective than she had back in February, when her entire family came down with COVID-19. Fortunately, everyone recovered, even her dad, who is high-risk and suffered with severe pneumonia for a good month afterwards.

“It was definitely stressful and caused us all a lot of anxiety,” she says. “But I feel like it’ll be a little bit easier to deal with health issues in a clinical setting, as a nurse, because I’m not as personally attached as I was when it was affecting my own family.”

It’s clear that family is important to Isabel, who credits her academic success to the strong support of her parents. “Without their support and motivation, I would not have gotten this far,” she says. 

And the extended family she went to school with at Springfield holds a big place in her heart as well. “I won’t miss everything about high school,” she admits — especially the year of online learning — “but I’ll definitely miss the connections I had with the teachers and students. All of us students grew up together. And the teachers really cared. If you were having a bad day, you didn’t have to keep it to yourself.”

Need help with pursuing your career goals and education needs? VSAC is here to help you. Serving our community is at the heart of all we do. During this ever-changing time, we remain available and committed to help you navigate all your career and education needs.

For information on college and career planning and help with financial aid, go to www.vsac.org/FAFSAfirst and check out our online workshops and events. For an update of how we can help with the impact of COVID-19, click here. You can also give us a call at 800-642-3177, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday and online at info@vsac.org.