Dr. Combs now spreads a message of hope wherever she goes. Her journey has not been an easy one, however. Growing up in a middle-class family in Northern Arizona, she fell into a bad crowd, began using drugs, and dropped out of school.
Her life continued on a downward spiral, leading to her serving jail time and becoming homeless. During her darkest days on the streets, she endured unspeakable trauma, including being beaten, shot, and raped.
Her journey, which has been called "From Homeless to Hero" by local media, has received tremendous national coverage, including an article in Reader's Digest and interviews on The Today Show and CNN News. She has also appeared on radio talk shows across the country and been invited to sing and share her message at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
"If I can do it, anybody can do it," she says. "I believe in myself and my ability to do my best. I'm intelligent and I'm capable of achieving greatness. I think every person has inside of them what it takes to succeed. The day I woke up on the streets and someone had stolen the shoes off my feet was the day I knew I had to change my life. I knew God had a better plan for my life than this."
Dr. Combs began taking major steps to renter society as a productive individual. She entered rehab and worked hard to overcome her addictions. While living in low-income housing, she took a part-time job at a school located in an at-risk neighborhood not far from the streets that had been her "home." As she worked with these children, she knew she had found her life's calling: to teach and to inspire by sharing her own story of overcoming tremendous obstacles.
Once she set her sights on becoming a teacher, there was no stopping her. As a single mother of a young son who suffered a stroke at birth, she juggled three jobs while earning a bachelor's degree in human services. She taught at a school for children with special needs and continued to pursue her education at Grand Canyon University, where she earned a master's degree in special education in 2007. She has since received a doctorate in organizational leadership with an emphasis in education under a scholarship presented to her by Grand Canyon University, becoming one of their first doctoral students. She travels around the country sharing her story as the university's "ambassador of inspiration & achievement" with a variety of audiences, including youth groups, churches, and professional organizations.
A victim of domestic violence in the past, Dr. Brenda Combs now serves as an advocate for domestic violence awareness. She also lobbies for the rights of the homeless community and, in 2009, was named a national ambassador for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's "Power to End Stroke" campaign. She was selected by the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury as an "Arizona woman of inspiration" two years in a row and The Martin Luther King Stand Up for Justice Award!
- From Rags to Enrichment
"From Rags to Enrichment" is Brenda Combs' personal story, which can touch on such topics as domestic violence, the importance of education, stroke awareness and prevention, rebounding from divorce, single parenting, and drug and alcohol abuse and recovery. Dr. Combs can also facilitate a 45-minute interactive program designed for smaller groups, in which she works individually with each person to help create a vision and life goals.
- Maximize Your Net Worth
In "Maximize Your Net Worth," speaker Brenda Combs provides an inspirational talk on how to use one's gifts and talents to create your own success. Dr. Combs can also facilitate a 45-minute interactive program designed for smaller groups, in which she works individually with each person to help create a vision and life goals.
- I Believe in Myself
A dynamic keynote speaker, Brenda Combs addresses larger groups in this one-hour presentation on self-esteem and motivation to turn any life around. Dr. Combs can also facilitate a 45-minute interactive program designed for smaller groups, in which she works individually with each person to help create a vision and life goals.
- From Homeless to Hero: Overcoming Trauma & Changing Your Life
A little over a decade ago, speaker Brenda Combs was a homeless crack addict and criminal who had been shot, beaten, and raped. Today, having completely turned her life around, the media has lauded her journey as being "from homeless to hero." A single mother who successfully obtained a doctorate in organizational leadership, Dr. Combs motivates others with her inspirational story of perseverance. "If I can do it anybody can do it," she says. "I think every person has inside of them what it takes to succeed."