Emily Cooper - Beyond Boundaries
One Campus Visit Can Give You All the Answers
Emily Cooper has big plans ahead of her, and she’s getting there by way of Olivet College. Emily, from Flint, transferred to Olivet after attending an out-of-state college for two semesters. After moving in for her sophomore year, she quickly realized that she wasn’t where she was meant to be and moved back home. A year later, Emily accompanied her sister, a high school senior exploring college options, on a visit to Olivet and fell in love. Now, Emily is a double major in environmental science and biology with a concentration in ecology, president of the Sustainability Organization, vice president of the National Organization for Women and vice president of Disability Rights as well as a member of several other campus clubs and organizations.
Looking back, Emily isn’t sure how she became involved with such a wide array of campus activities. Friends pulled her into their activities here and there, other activities just went along with Emily’s major and one or two other clubs appealed to her personal interests. Before Emily knew it, she was completely immersed in Olivet’s student life and community, a grand feat for someone who has anxiety. For Emily, some social situations are very uncomfortable and she even has a therapy dog, a miniature dachshund named Alaska, that helps her cope in difficult situations. “Going to Olivet made me more social and outgoing without me even realizing it was happening,” Emily said. “The campus is so warm and inviting, everyone from professors to staff members and students are deeply kind and caring. At Loyola, the size was just overwhelming; it made me into an even more closed-off person.”
Causes Worth Standing For
Emily doesn’t just boast many titles, she truly advocates for change on campus, while embracing the positive attributes of OC. She has been the leading cause for the college allowing therapy and service animals to live in campus housing. Now, the student handbook includes guidelines for that, Emily says thanks to backing by Jake Schuler and other influential staff members on campus. It doesn’t end there, she is a proponent for other disability rights, recycling on campus and student-led educational experiences through the science program.
From Faculty to Family
Emily says that whether it be in the classroom or her personal life, the faculty and staff hold the key to happiness at OC. “The ability to succeed and be recognized for your achievements is so strong at Olivet,” Emily said. “Every professor wants the best for you. They show us that we matter. They show us that our goals and achievements matter. At Olivet, students are treated like real people, not numbers.” One of Emily’s favorite college professor moments is when she asked Professor Sarah Wilterding for a letter of recommendation. Rather than just agreeing to write the letter, Sarah instead responded, “Emily, I’d give you a kidney if you needed one.”
The Picky Iguana
Emily is passionate for all things science and nature related but above everything else, she is passionate for animals. Her post-graduation goal is to work rehabilitating animals, especially canines like foxes, coyotes and wolves. Professor Leah Knapp helped Emily obtain her first real experience with animal rehabilitation when Oscar, the desert iguana housed in the natural science program, stopped eating on his own the past spring. Emily took Oscar home with her over summer break and worked with him daily until he became interested in his food again. Oscar has made a full recovery, but Emily isn’t quite sure how to fit that on her resume.
Emily says that double majoring on top of leading several clubs and organizations on campus doesn’t weigh her down. “The campus groups that I’m involved with don’t feel like work; they feel like my hobbies,” Emily explained. “My involvement on campus has shown me how important it is to find a satisfying job. I don’t want to feel like I’m working every day; I want my career to be filled with doing things I love.” Emily doesn’t suffer from anxiety at Olivet College, she thrives in spite of it.