Independent Minds, Working Together
Brittany Cook ’15

Brittany Cook ’15

Bolingbrook, Illinois
Major: Communication Sciences & Disorders

It's a long way, in every way, from the western suburbs of Chicago to the rural Black Belt of Alabama, but when Brittany Cook got a chance to work as a teaching intern with the Higher Achievement Summer School, a four-week, residential summer academic program for high-achieving, underprivileged students in Sumter County, she jumped at it.

The HASS program, one of whose co-founders was 2010 Wooster graduate Justin Younker, provides intensive academic instruction, leadership development, mentoring, and exposure to higher education opportunities, for students from rural school districts where 90 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Cook taught, did individual tutoring, assisted with curriculum development, organized college visits and field trips, and conducted mock college admissions interviews for the students in the program. She also learned something about herself in the process. "I realized that I was capable of doing things I'd never done before," she said. "Even if I am a little uncertain, if I lead with confidence, the kids respond well."

Back when she herself was in high school, Cook knew exactly what she was looking for in a college. It had to be academically rigorous, with a strong program in communication sciences and disorders, and not too large. An accomplished singer, she also wanted someplace where she could continue to perform in a first-class ensemble. She has found all that, and more, at Wooster.

Cook intends to pursue a career in speech language pathology, helping those with speech and hearing disorders, and Wooster's program is renowned for the quality of its graduates. It also offers an opportunity found in very few undergraduate institutions: each student receives four semesters of clinical experience in the college's Freedlander Speech and Hearing Clinic, located on campus.

Cook found a way to augment that hands-on experience even further during a semester studying abroad, in Granada, Spain, during her junior year. The program in which she was enrolled included a community service element, and she was placed in a school where she worked with and taught a mix of hearing and deaf students.

"I went to Spain with very basic, barely conversational, Spanish," Cook said, "but I wanted to improve and thought this was a good way to do it."

Cook played flute in the Scot marching band and performed with the Wooster Singers in her first year, and this year sang in the Wooster Chorus. She is looking forward to her senior year, and ahead to graduate school, where she will pursue her master's degree in speech language pathology.