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Dr. Cooke grew up in rural, Yamhill, Oregon where she spent more time on top of a horse than anywhere else. She began her horse riding career at the age of two, standing up on tippy-toe on the pommel of the saddle in front of her mother, because as she later explained the view is better up there—which might explain why she can be found climbing to the summit of Mt. Emily every chance she gets.
Dr. Cooke began her professional career as a berry-picker at a local strawberry patch, where she had the distinction of being the slowest picker in Yamhill County—until her mother promised to let her buy her very own horse if she could earn fifty dollars over the course of the season. Her mother had hit upon the perfect bribe, because not only did she earn those fifty dollars, she became such a fast picker that even Mary Alice Van Dyke, who got up at 4 AM every morning to get a head start at the patch, couldn’t keep up with her.
From her lowly beginnings as a berry-picker, Dr. Cooke moved on to more prestigious professions, such as chicken catching at the Pedro Farm, where she learned about the exploitation of workers—not to mention of chickens—and acquired the work ethic that now serves her well as a composition teacher here at EOU.
Dr. Cooke received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oregon State University. She received a second master’s degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley California and her Ph.D in Literature and the Environment from the University of Nevada, Reno. Her dissertation considers the ways people with mental illness are represented in popular media and how that representation affects the ways they are treated.
Dr. Cooke teaches American and historical literature and film, as well as composition, here at EOU.
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