Bridget Arnold Cobb's path to becoming a neonatologist was forged from start to finish at UAB—from undergrad to medical school to residency to fellowship. But she might not have ever set foot on UAB's campus if it weren't for her father and his handheld tape recorder.
Bridget, who grew up in Midway, Alabama, knew even in high school that she wanted to be a doctor. So, her father, the Rev. E. Simpson James, encouraged her to check out UAB. "My dad knew my dream, and he supported it any way he could. He had been reading about the university, how it was a great place to go and study medicine," recalls Bridget. "But really, at the time I wasn't listening. I had other plans."
Rev. James heard about an event in Montgomery where prospective UAB students could learn more about the university. "I couldn't go because I had tests that day," Bridget remembers. So, he went for her. He approached a UAB representative and set a tape recorder in front of her, Bridget says. "He said, 'I'm doing this for my daughter because she can't be here.' That was my first experience with UAB, but I did like what they had to say."
Within months, Bridget was accepted to the university to study biology—and she received a scholarship, "all thanks to him and that tape recorder," she recalls.
Rev. James passed away just six months before she graduated from the UAB School of Medicine. Today, Bridget is a staff neonatologist with Pediatrix Medical Group in Atlanta. Because of the role scholarships played in her success—and because of her father's influence in accomplishing her dream—Bridget established a scholarship in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology, and named it after him. The gift will be endowed from a bequest she is leaving to UAB through the university's Office of Planned Giving.
"My dad did something great for me, and through me, he will get to do something great for someone else," she says. "Had it not been for him and that tape recorder, the trajectory of how my life has gone would not have been the same."
The Reverend E. Simpson James Endowed Scholarship is for pre-medicine freshmen students in the Department of Biology, and preference is given to African American females from a rural part of Alabama.
Because she grew up in a rural town, Bridget says she understands that there can be financial obstacles to leaving a small community to pursue higher education. Athletic scholarships—particularly for males—are much more prevalent, so she wanted to provide something for students who don't fall into that category.
"When these students get to school, I want them to enjoy college life, enjoy the fullness of school, instead of thinking about getting a job, worrying about accumulating $100,000 of debt, or having to take time off to save more money. I want to give in a way that was given to me, so that someone won't have to struggle or give up on their dreams."
Receiving a scholarship—Bridget was awarded one as an undergraduate and one as a medical student—was a real game changer, she says. She's always known she wanted to give back one day. "If I hadn't gotten those scholarships, I would have been in a lot of debt," she explains.
Leaving a gift to UAB was a way to achieve her philanthropic goal. She says it will simplify the process for her family after she is gone, and it allows her to leave something lasting, she says. "I wanted something to be self-perpetuating," she says, "so that when I'm gone, when my daughter is gone, her children can still see their great-grandad's name at UAB. There is no better outlet for me to be able to leave a legacy for my dad or my family. There is no me without UAB."
QUESTIONS? I CAN HELP.
Kimberley S. Coppock, J.D.
Director of Development
Office of Planned Giving
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