|Sarah (left) and Emily Cooley|
By Rebecca Bell
Dean of Community Relations & Special Events
They are talented, smart and want to pursue careers helping others. Emily and Sarah Cooley graduated from Midland College (MC) this past May and will now follow their dreams of becoming healthcare professionals while attending nursing school at Texas A&M University in College Station.
“God gave us individual interests and talents and then gave us our family and a specific education to develop those interests in choosing a profession,” said Emily.
For the past two years, the Cooley sisters could be seen around the MC Sarah (left) and Emily (right) Cooley campus participating in the college’s organizations as active members and officers in Student Government Association, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Students in Philanthropy, and Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society. Their research projects as part of the MC Honors Program also garnered them recognition throughout the college’s instructional programs. They both credit MC for a rich academic foundation through increased student-teacher interaction and advanced leadership opportunities to take on roles that challenge and interest them in the medical field.
Emily, 19, enjoys writing and playing the viola and harp, evidenced by the several harp CDs that she has recorded with her two older sisters. Apart from her academic interests, Emily also enjoys cooking.
“She makes great pizza!” exclaimed Sarah, who enjoys “testing” Emily’s cooking. On the other hand, Sarah, 18, is primarily science-oriented and was a presenter at MC’s Spring 2017 Research Colloquium. She enjoys running (which is how she stays in shape after eating Emily’s cooking) and displays musical talent in her pursuit of the violin.
Both sisters began playing the piano at a very young age and have been in the University of Texas of the Permian Basin’s orchestra for the past two years.
Emily and Sarah are part of a family of seven children, all equally as accomplished and talented. Their older sisters, Helen, 25, and Hannah, 23, are both nurses with degrees from Texas A&M and Baylor. Their older brother Daniel, 21, graduated with a major in Business Analytics at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. Their two younger siblings include Steven, 13, and Callie, 10. They have resided in Midland since 2012. Their parents, Herb and Susan Layton Cooley, lived in Midland throughout the eighties. The sisters agree that their family has played a pivotal role in developing their interests and dedication to working hard.
“Our Dad taught us to love beautiful music and respect heroes like Davy Crockett and William Wilberforce,” said Sarah. “Our Mom taught us to constantly work with our hands and to respect others. Both of our parents have invested an incredible amount of time, energy and love into each of us. Our siblings’ influence constantly reminded us to spend our time well with people who will challenge and encourage us. We would never be who we are without the influence of each member of our family.”
Emily and Sarah graduated from a home-school program before they were 18.
“Going to MC was a last-minute decision,” explained Emily. “I had enough credits to graduate early, and I wanted an environment that would ensure a necessary academic foundation for success at a future transfer college while giving me opportunities to step out of my comfort zone into leadership positions. MC was the embodiment of that goal. Sarah enrolled through MC’s early admission/dual enrollment program by taking college courses for high school and college credit.
“If Midland College students dedicate themselves to fully taking advantage of their time at MC, they have countless opportunities in leadership, service and academics without financial debt. MC allows students to mature and refine their abilities in a small, caring environment.”
Sarah added, “Midland College gave us numerous opportunities to become involved through student government and various honors programs. Also, the professors are incredible. One of the most difficult things about finishing our degrees at Midland College is leaving teachers like Dr. Terry Gilmour, Dr. Todd Houck, Amelia Belizaire, Michael Dixon and Claudia Hinds. They were pivotal in supporting and teaching us while positively impacting hundreds of other students each semester. They made us love what we were learning through patient explanation and listening.”
Dr. Terry Gilmour, MC Government professor, said, “Emily and Sarah are two of the finest students with whom I have ever had the privilege of working in over 24 years of teaching. They are both at the top of their game academically, never settling for anything but the best they can do. I also worked with them in Student Government, Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors Program and they always give 110% to everything that they commit to in and outside of the classroom.”
While Emily and Sarah are in College Station, the Midland community will lose two ardent volunteers. The young women have participated with such nonprofit agencies as the Recording Library for the Blind, the Museum of the Southwest, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Keep Midland Beautiful, Midland Health, the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, HEB’s Feast of Sharing, Breaking Bread Kitchen and the Petroleum Museum.
“We enjoy a routine that allows us to have a direct impact in high-intensity situations with a strong foundation in service,” explained Sarah. “That reason influenced our choice of a service-oriented career in the medical field. There is a wealth of specialties and opportunities to serve within nursing. We can work in the mission field, in nonprofit agencies, in hospitals or in schools. I eventually want to pursue a master’s degree as a nurse anesthetist.”
Emily agreed and said, “Nursing is a career with a definite purpose that serves others and allows me to be in an environment where I am directly addressing problems. Nursing’s specialties and my enjoyment of the medical field promises to allow me hopefully to fulfill that purpose with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and, eventually, a Master of Science degree in Nursing as a surgical nurse practitioner.”
The sisters took one last class at MC this summer—Microbiology—and will now move to College Station where they will be roommates as they begin nursing school.
“Our mom also went to A&M,” said Emily. “So, she is really excited for us to become Aggies.”
Sarah laughed, “We are looking forward to A&M football season, except for having to stand up during the entire game!”