A retired Air Force Reserve member, Aaron Cook was on leave from his work as a contractor in Afghanistan when he noticed a billboard beckoning: “Finish Your Degree.” The billboard was part of an awareness campaign for Bachelor of Professional Studies, and Cook was intrigued. A former business major at several different schools, Cook had been unable to complete his education, as his military service led to frequent moves. Once he returned to make Charleston his home, Cook was eager follow up on the advertisement he had seen: enrolling in the BPS program in Applied Communications.
“My classes have always been quite diverse, and everyone brings something to the learning experience.”
Cook, who works as a materials analyst for Pratt and Whitney, revels in the classroom lecture setting, and enjoys building connections with staff and students. “When you have a professor teaching a class, and directing the class in discussions – that’s a great experience,” Cook enthuses, “My classes have always been quite diverse, and everyone brings something to the learning experience.” Cook also appreciates the attention and support he has received in the program: “They go out of their way to help. The professors – who I think are some of the best in the state – it just seems like you are the only student in the classroom.”
As a working father, Cook has experienced the difficulties non-traditional students face: balancing course assignments with taking his young daughter to soccer practice. Yet, he chooses to make time to encourage other retired service members. “I wanted to give back to the veterans,” he says, citing his participation in the College of Charleston Veteran Student Focus Group. Cook is looking forward to renewed involvement with the program in the Fall.
Admittedly, Aaron Cook’s academic journey is far from complete – he estimates that he has about two more years to go – yet the benefits are already apparent. “My family is very proud of what I am doing, and my employer has [also] taken notice,” Cook says, “that’s one of the reasons that I was hired: they were very impressed with what I was doing in college.” Cook is looking forward to advancing within his company, noting, “the sky is the limit.”