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Academic Scholarships

Robin J. Bowen ’90 says her “Robert Frost” moment came in the middle of a high school physics test. The Taylor County, Ky., native had given up on attending Transylvania, believing the financial burden would be too much for her family. She’d already sent her letter of regret, but the Transy director of admissions delayed filing the document, knowing that Bowen was at the top of the wait list for a full scholarship.
During the physics exam, Bowen was summoned to the counselor’s office and told she’d been awarded the scholarship. “Basically the dream had come true,” she said.

At Transylvania, Bowen found the academic community she’d been craving.  “In high school, I was considered one of the geeks, which was lonely in a way,” she said. “They teased me because I set the curve. At Transy, that was not a problem. Everyone appreciated and understood my passions for learning and exploring.”

Bowen graduated with a degree in history and spent eight months helping a family friend start a business in her hometown before accepting an internship with U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s office. The three-month internship turned into an eight-year career as a legislative assistant, during which time she earned her law degree from American University. “It was a great experience. Literally I could learn something in class one night, and apply it the next day at work.”

After leaving McConnell’s office, Bowen worked as a lobbyist for the American Insurance Association and clerked for the Honorable Eugene Siler of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in London, Ky. She then returned to Washington and joined the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP. She is a member of the firm’s Alcohol Beverages and Products Practice Group, focusing on trade practices, labeling, advertising, formulation, and taxation of alcohol beverages as well as federal regulation of non-beverage alcohol.

Bowen says the opportunity the Young Scholarship gave her not only affected her life, but that of her family. Her younger relatives, seeing her success, have set higher goals for themselves. “It’s still amazing to them that the kid who used to run up and down Brushy Fork in Taylor County now works in Washington,” she said. “That confidence went from me through my family. They said ‘if she can do it, we can do it.’ That ripple effect is not something obvious when you’re presenting the scholarship, but it’s what I’ve come to appreciate most.”

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