Nothing is Impossible: A Journey with Carol Combs

By Jade Smallwood, Student Writer for the Office of External Relations & Communications

Photo of Carol Combs with her Miami SOAR shirt on.

Picture this… you’re a mother of three kids ages 12, 10 and 3. Today is your first day of school and you haven’t attended school in 17 years. You step out of the car onto a college campus not knowing what is going to come next and wondering if you’re going to fit in. What will the other students think? Will this work? Am I crazy? Did I make the right decision?

This was the case for Miami Regionals student Carol Combs. She’s always wearing a smile and beat-up Converse tennis shoes, exuberating positive energy that naturally draws people to her. Combs is not only a student at the Regionals and a mother of three children, but she is also an extremely active member of her community and a member of multiple civic organizations.

Reflecting on her experience, Combs remarked, “Coming in as a nontraditional student and mom of three there were naturally some worries and fears that came with signing on as a full-time student.  I was worried that I would not be able to find that perfect balance between school and home, I was worried that the demands of school would interfere with me being the mom I wanted to be and my kids needed me to be, and the question of “can I manage it all and still achieve my personal and academic goals?” echoed constantly.

My first semester eliminated those worries and fears as I found my footing and the balance between school, being a mom, and just life in general. Communication with my professors helped ease my worries about if any of my kids got sick or if Grayson went inpatient or there was an emergency with him in the middle of class that needed my attention.  I have discovered that ever professor at Miami wants their students to succeed and are willing to work with you when life happens, you just have to communicate with them.”

Combs is a Hamilton native who graduated from Hamilton High School in 2000. After 17 years of being out of school, Combs decided to enroll at Miami Regionals as a nontraditional student. This decision was a big one and it wasn’t easy for her. Combs has a son, Grayson, who was born with a rare brain condition called Lissencephaly which led Combs to join the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

LEND provides long-term, graduate level interdisciplinary training as well as interdisciplinary services and care. The purpose of this program is to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities.

Graduating from the program in May 2017, Combs went to the Admission office on the Hamilton campus two weeks later.

“LEND helped me realize there was so much I could be doing, I had to show my kids that they could achieve all of their hopes and dreams -- that nothing is impossible. I want to bring people together, I want to connect people and I have a passion for my community and making the world a better place,” Combs said.

Photo of Carol Combs with her three children.She is now a junior majoring in Nonprofit and Community Studies. When asked why she chose Miami Regionals, she replied, “It’s home away from home, I’m only 5 minutes away so I’m close to my friends and family daily. There are new opportunities here, a brighter future, it’s a welcoming and diverse campus. It’s the future for me and I know whatever I do I’ll succeed because I ended up at Miami.”

Aside from her active student life at Miami Regionals, Combs is involved in a number of other things. She’s currently an intern for Starfire, a nonprofit that works to build inclusive communities for individuals and families with disabilities. She is involved with the Butler County Board of Disabilities, presenting for them in public settings and hosting events. Combs also is a part of Jefferson Alliance, a neighborhood alliance in Hamilton to create stronger relationships between neighbors.

Combs genuinely wants to connect with her community and bring a sense of harmony to everyone around her.

When asked what she hopes  to do after graduating, Combs said, “Create a more inclusive community, to change the world, to connect people because there is power in connections, to make the world a better place.”

Combs has advice for current and future students.

“Get connected in some kind of organization, stop by Regional Office of Student Activities. There are so many wonderful things no matter what your interest might be.”