Sabrena Whitt, 43, graduated from Colorado Technical University Monday night with a sigh of relief and an associate of science degree in criminal justice.
It had been a long road strewn with obstacles that might have waylaid someone less determined.
She credits her husband’s support and a CTU scholarship program for her success. The program, which began in 2007, has awarded more than 100 scholarships worth nearly $2 million to wounded military members and their spouses.
The recipients receive laptops and full scholarships for a two-year degree program. The for-profit university has a campus in Colorado Springs. Monday night, 150 students received diplomas in a ceremony at Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Later this fall the institution will choose 25 more wounded military members and 25 spouses for the program, said Lauren Cameron, CTU spokeswoman.
Monday, Whitt talked about her experience as a scholarship recipient. “They make possible many success stories. It was a real blessing for me.”
She grew up in Maryland, and raised a son as a single parent. She attended some college in 2001, but quit to help her mother battle and survive a bout with cancer.
Whitt met her husband Army Spec. Conrad Whitt at church in 2005 and they married the next year. They were still newlyweds when her father fell ill with cancer, and the disease reoccurred in her mother.
“We decided we would move to North Carolina to help them,” Sabrena Whitt said. Conrad Whitt was in the Army Reserve at Fort Meade, Maryland, and he changed to a unit in North Carolina, which soon deployed to Iraq.
“He never complained about it. The only thing that bothered him was I was going to be left by myself,” Sabrena Whitt said.
After her parents died 40 days apart, Sabrena Whitt began working at a restaurant. “It helped me with the stress of losing them and having Conrad gone.”
While in Iraq, Conrad Whitt was injured in an accident, and returned to the states, where he had hip surgery in 2008. He is now in the Army’s Wounded Warrior transition program.
“One day he hands me this application for a CTU college scholarship and said I should do it.”
She was awarded a scholarships and studied online.
She wants to be a victim’s advocate for abused women and troubled children in the justice system. “I’ve had a good life and a good childhood and I want to help those going through those hard times,” she said.
She hopes to now get a bachelor’s degree from CTU.
Conrad Whitt has received training in fiber optics work, and is poised to enter an emergency medical technician program. He wants to be an ambulance driver if his injuries permit.
He credits his wife with encouraging him to persevere in Iraq and in his rehabilitation afterwards.
“It was a blessing to be able to afford her the opportunity to go to school. She has deserved it.”