FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, SHONTAE COBB MADE A PROMISE TO HER grandfather. This year she kept it and in the process set an example for her four siblings and many others she may never know.
“When I was in first grade, my grandfather came to my school for Grandparents Day,” Cobb said. “He always told me that I told him that day that I’d be the first one in our family to graduate from college.”

I wanted to grow and challenge myself. Higher education is one of the best ways to do that.

In May, Cobb proudly walked across the stage to receive her diploma, a bachelor’s degree in construction management. That walk was a big step in a journey that was not always easy.

Shontae Cobb

Shontae Cobb

“Growing up in the inner city (Kansas City, Mo.) and seeing so many people who had never gone to college, I just knew that life needed to be different for me,” she said. “I wanted to get out of that environment. I wanted to grow and challenge myself. Higher education is one of the best ways to do that.”
At PSU, Cobb not only excelled, but was a leader. She worked to recruit more women into the field and helped charter the student Women in Construction group, serving as its first president. She was also the first president of the southeast Kansas chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction.
“We want women to know that you can go into construction management and still be feminine,” Cobb said. “You can still be a woman.”
Cobb hopes her hard work and ultimate success serve as a model for her younger siblings.
“I want them to see me do this and know that anything is possible,” said Cobb, “I want them to know that there is a big world outside of the inner city and that it can be theirs if they work for it.”
After graduation, Cobb headed for Chicago to join Walsh Construction as a project engineer.
“I want to take a risk,” she said. “I want to get out of my comfort zone and see where the world takes me.”
Wherever that is, Cobb said, she’ll always be thinking of Pitt State.
“This place is amazing,” she said. “It truly is. The professors and instructors here take you in immediately and help you in any way they can. They become your family while you’re here. There is no place I would rather have earned this degree than Pittsburg State.”