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Mother creates PPCC scholarship to help recovering drug addicts

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A mother from Colorado Springs who lost her daughter to a heroin overdose is now using that experience to help others with the help of Pikes Peak Community College.

“Seeing the pictures of Branwyn, here’s this young woman so smart, so bright and full of life, and one last hit was one too many,” said Lisa James, the executive director of Pikes Peak Community College Foundation.

Branwyn Elizabeth Kenney was just 22 years old in March when she died of a heroin overdose. To deal with her daughter’s death, Army Maj. Laura Uhl had a choice to make.

“Laura really needed to make a choice with what she was going to do with her life, either collapse and grieve or find another way. She’s decided to commit herself to helping students who are trying to recover from drug addiction,” James said.

Kenney attended PPCC which is why her mother teamed up with the college to create the Branwyn Elizabeth Kenney Memorial Scholarship. It is a $4,000 scholarship to help a struggling addict and student with tuition.

The latest data released by the CDC shows nearly 200 people died from heroin overdoses in 2015 in Colorado.

“Addiction reaches all aspects of each community; however, it’s growing alarmingly in college-age students,” said Danielle Harri, major gifts officer at Pikes Peak Community College.

The college offers several different scholarships but what makes this one so unique is people with a criminal record can still apply.

“It’s very difficult for recovering addicts. Frequently they have a criminal record as a result of their addiction, which means they’re not eligible,” James said.

That was the case for Kenney, which is why her mother wanted to break down that barrier.

“She has found a way to turn her pain into hope, and we’re honored to be in this journey with her,” James said.

To qualify, students need to prove they are on a recovery path, have certification from Narcotics Anonymous and are U.S. citizens.

“The recipient will get lots of support from our community as well as the college. They will get that and hope and encouragement,” Harris said.

Students will be eligible to apply this fall, and the scholarship will be awarded in the spring.

By: Angelica Lombardi

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