SCF Student Cody Bowman Participated in Ms. Wheelchair Florida Pageant
(Bradenton, Fla., April 8, 2014) — When State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) Venice student Cody Bowman took the stage in the Ms. Wheelchair Florida pageant April 4-6 in Orlando, she realized her dream of advocating for others with disabilities.
Bowman, 27, understands the daily challenges for people with disabilities because she was born with spina bifida and has been unable to walk her entire life. She qualified to participate with seven other Florida women in Ms. Wheelchair Florida, a competition that emphasizes strong speaking and communication skills. Contestants were judged based on their ability to raise awareness and advocate through onstage interviews and platform speeches that address challenges for people with disabilities, including employment, education and housing.
As a child, Bowman attended Recreation Unlimited, a camp for people with physical and developmental disabilities, and later returned as a camp counselor. Her experience fueled her desire to make it her life goal to advocate for others with disabilities.
“Participating in the competition was a good opportunity for me to grow and pay it forward,” Bowman said. “I had an amazing time, and I gained a lot more confidence from the experience.”
During the Ms. Wheelchair Florida pageant, she gave a speech about the need for more residential rental properties that are accessible for people with disabilities. Bowman, who dreams of having her own apartment, lives with her mom and sister, works at Goodwill Manasota, and uses the bus for transportation to SCF Venice for classes and college activities.
Before coming to SCF in 2007, Bowman spent one year living on her own while attending a university in Ohio where she grew up. Even though her family had already moved to Florida, she decided she wanted to experience college life on her own. She soon realized that a large university wasn’t for her.
“It was a shock for me to go to a big university right out high school. SCF is better for me because it’s close to home, it’s a smaller campus and the staff in the Disability Resource Center have been my biggest cheerleaders. They’ve done everything they can to support me and help me succeed in college as I work toward my goal of getting a job and becoming independent,” she said.
At SCF, Bowman has impressed her peers and her advisors in the Disability Resource Center, who have deep admiration for her.
SCF Student Services Advisor Jennifer Meier said, “We are extremely proud of Cody for working hard and persevering despite the challenges she faces every day. She has grown tremendously at SCF, and her participation in the Ms. Wheelchair Florida pageant was a great opportunity for her to shine.”
Bowman was named “Ms. Congeniality” at the Ms. Wheelchair Florida pageant.
After graduating from SCF with an Associate in Arts degree in December 2014, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in public relations to become a publicist for organizations that advocate for people with disabilities.