Widener grad comes from a class receiving $100,000 in college scholarships

CHESTER — As Jada Cottman completes her undergraduate degree, she’s focused on helping those she loves and those who have helped her.

Cottman joins another 703 undergraduates and 735 graduate students graduating from Widener University this debut season.

The 22-year-old, whose birthday was on Monday, also holds another title of distinction. She and five other students, Aqeel Collins, Cire Holmes, Destiny Barnes, Ja’miyah Bowman-Curry and Asia McDonald are the first group to fulfill Widener University’s pledge as Widener Partnership Charter School alumni. .

Founded in 2006, Widener Partnership Charter School takes a holistic approach to K-8 education. All students who graduate from this school and meet the admission requirements during the high school years are eligible for four-year, $100,000 grants to pursue an undergraduate degree at Widener University.

Cottman recalled graduating from eighth grade at the charter school in 2014.

“I was a speaker at our eighth grade graduation and they announced they would,” she said. “I always kept that in the back of my mind.”

She followed this by continuing her high school education at Cardinal O’Hara High School before going to Widener University.

“I chose Widener because I knew I would be able to have that family feel,” Cottman said. “I am the youngest child. I really am like a mama’s girl. I really didn’t want to leave home.

Born and raised in Chester, Cottman said she also wanted to be able to make an impact in her community.

There is a volunteer contingency attached to the scholarship, requiring recipients to volunteer to maintain it.

Cottman said she did all her volunteer work at the Widener Partnership Charter School.

“It was truly a blessing to be able to give back to those who paved the way for me,” she added.

Cottman also shared what her time at Widener was like as she pursued a major in psychology with a minor in sociology.

“I had a great experience,” she said, adding that she had that family experience. “I was able to get involved in a lot of things…It was home for me to have a roommate that I knew but still be able to reach out to other people to make new friends. I would say overall it was a great experience.

Her goal is to become a speech therapist and she is currently looking for a job.

“I am currently looking for a job working with children with autism,” Cottman said. “Then I want to go back to school to be a speech therapist.”

Cottman explained that she was motivated by her 6-year-old cousin, Chloe.

“She’s non-verbal,” the Widener graduate said. “She was the one who inspired my path in speech therapy. People (on the spectrum)…are seen as different. For me, they have a different ability. She taught me patience and she taught me to better accept others.

She is also the first in her family to earn an undergraduate degree.

“I’m the first to graduate from college,” Cottman said. “I’m finishing this degree for my family.”

Her mother is a breast cancer survivor and her grandmother is battling two types of cancer.

“I definitely couldn’t have done it without them,” she said.

And it’s a message that Cottman wants to share with others with a dream of establishing a scholarship for young people in his community.

“I hope to be able to share my story with the young children of Chester,” she said. “I just want people to know you can do it.”

She said she hoped to showcase the good that comes and exists in the city.

“People don’t always highlight the right things,” Cottman said. “I want to continue to share the positive light.”

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