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Combs receives Angel Unaware Award

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — Donna Combs, a student in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at University of the Cumberlands, has received the 2009 Angel Unaware Award during the 50th annual Honors Day Convocation. A special education teacher at Breathitt High School in Jackson, Combs was unable to attend the ceremony.

This special award recognizes a University of the Cumberlands student who selflessly helps others through acts and deeds of kindness; who gives of himself/herself far beyond what is expected; who is always there to lend a helping hand, and who does so without expecting recognition.

Combs, who worked with special needs children for the last twenty years as an instructional assistant, graduated Summa Cum Laude last May with a Bachelor of University Studies degree from Morehead State University. She is also a member of Phi Beta Phi honor society.

Recently, she was employed as an emotional behavior teacher who goes above and beyond the call of duty and constantly assists her students. For example, she nominated and mentored a student who was on the verge of being sent to away to a juvenile facility, but because of her support and dedication, the student was recognized nationally as a “Yes, I CAN” recipient.

Combs also started a “Bringing Hope to Students” Dress Store. The program assists students who might not be able to attend their high school prom because they cannot afford a dress. Combs enlisted the help of others and spent many hours to stock the store, which boasts more than sixty dresses at the current time. Any student who cannot purchase a dress can choose a dress. Because of Combs’s efforts, all students who want to attend the prom can have that unforgettable experience, and they can create memories to last a lifetime. Combs also has chaperoned the prom for more than thirteen years, allowing many of her students to enjoy this high school milestone.

Another example of Combs’s care for others is her donation of more than five gallons of blood to help save numerous lives. Combs is the mother of two daughters, Arlina Spencer and Kayla Combs; one son-in-law, Scott Spencer; and one grandson, Jacob Spencer all from Jackson.

The Angel Unaware Award was established in 2002 by employees of Luther and Rosemary Smith, long-time friends and supporters of the University. The workers wished to honor their employers by establishing the award and providing an initial monetary gift to begin the Angel Unaware Endowed Fund. Earnings from this fund are used to purchase the awards and provide an annual monetary gift, which is given to a campus organization in the name of each year’s recipient. The Student Awards Committee collects nominations from Cumberlands’ students, faculty and staff members, and then sends them to the Smiths, who select the award winner.