Cynthia Limoges is like the mystical Phoenix that arose from its own ashes to begin a new life.
Born in Galveston Island, Texas, she was abandoned by her mother when was five; her father died when she was eight. Raised by her grandparents and other family members, she suffered physical, sexual, and verbal abuse.
In the ninth grade, she joined Air Force ROTC: “The instructors were my saving grace.” When she graduated high school, she left home with only the clothes she was wearing and a small backpack.
“The military has been my only family, my means of survival,” she says. “It’s been one hell of a journey—a life-learning experience. I have fallen, but by the grace of God, I’ve come back up.”
Limoges’ latest achievement is a B.A. in psychology. The 34-year-old honor student took the majority of her classes at URI’s Feinstein Providence Campus.
Her journey to this degree took 10 years, two deployments to Afghanistan with the Rhode Island Air National Guard, employment as a victim’s advocate, and the birth of sons Ethan, 8, and Benjamin, 2.
She enrolled at URI as a part-time student in 2007. When she came off active duty in 2008 (she is now in the Guard reserves), she worried about balancing life as a single mother with work, military commitments, and college studies.
In fact, she excelled. A highlight of her time at URI was an internship with former Dean of Students Fran Cohen to found PAVS (Providing and Assisting Veterans and Significant Others) to help veterans transition from the battlefield into the classroom.
Limoges is a full-time advocate with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office ensuring that victims of violent crimes are informed of their rights and receive referrals to counseling. She also prepares them for trial or grand jury testimony.
Limoges plans to take a year off for family time before entering a graduate program in clinical psychology. Her husband, Army Sergeant Michael Limoges, will be deployed to Kuwait in September.
—Jan Wenzel ’87