Makayla Cook ’22 finds success at WPU
Makayla Cook ’22 distinctively remembers being at an awards ceremony at her hometown high school in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She remembers as other students’ names were announced for award after award, she didn’t receive any. Cook knew it was time for a change.
She viewed herself as a hard and dedicated worker and felt disappointed with herself for not engaging in activities or events that garnered success while in high school.
“Even though I was proud to have graduated high school a semester early while working part-time… I was a little disappointed,” Cook said. “All I had to show for my three and half years there was my consistent placement on the honor roll and working outside of school. Although those are, in fact, things that I can be proud of, I wanted more.”
Things changed when Cook made the decision to attend William Peace University (WPU).
Cook was initially drawn to WPU for the “small but fierce” campus. She saw professors who didn’t just care about her performance in the classroom but genuinely cared for her. She saw a place where she could grow professionally, personally, and meet her goals.
As soon as Cook was accepted to WPU, she knew that this was the time and place to become an involved and dedicated member of the community. Since her freshman year in 2019, she has taken on numerous leadership roles, becoming a campus leader and role model.
Cook has served WPU as a First-Year Resident Assistant, an Admissions Ambassador, a Peace Times newspaper Editor-in-Chief, a campus tutor, a Student Government and Programming Association Spirit and Traditions Coordinator, and in a work study job in the Communications Department. On top of this, Cook recently worked at Truist as an Adobe Experience Platform Intern. She also assisted WPU in its Quality Enhancement Plan: Building TILEs, which is a five-year initiative to increase student creative problem-solving and collaboration abilities.
“I decided that when I got to college, wherever I went, I would be as involved as I could,” Cook said. “When I walk across that stage this time, I know that I won’t have any regrets and that I’ll be beyond proud of what I’ve accomplished.”
Cook was born and raised in Fayetteville. With not much to do in the town, she explained that all she could do in high school was work. While all her friends were out partying and having fun in their free time, Cook was behind the sandwich counter of Jimmy John’s, serving up sandwiches to customers day in and out, or in the bright pink store Justice, with little girls asking her about the latest clothing items.
Cook’s mother had the greatest influence on her while growing up. Cook grew up with two older sisters 15 and 17 years older than her and a brother six months younger than her. She was raised by a single mother who was always there for her when she needed her most. Her mother encouraged her to do her best and to always stay positive.
Those pieces of wisdom still echo in Cook’s mind as she now works to complete her degree at WPU. She wants to do her best in her studies and extracurriculars.
At WPU, Cook is majoring in communications and minoring in leadership and management studies. Cook hopes to one day be the head of her own marketing firm.
“I wanted a major that’s more open. You could do a lot with communication. So just in case I wanted to switch careers later on in life, I didn’t want to be restricted,” Cook said.
WPU has developed in her the confidence that she can reach her career dreams, no matter the struggles she may face along the way.
“I wish that I could do a comparison of Makayla before WPU and Makayla after to really embody how WPU has built my courage and confidence,” Cook said. “WPU provides so many different valuable experiences and opportunities for you to practice your skills that it’s almost impossible to leave here without confidence and courage.”
Cook explained that before WPU she was timid when it came to public speaking and interviews. Now, WPU has given her a huge boost in knowing who she is and what she has to say.
Cook credits her professors, her immersive learning experiences, the honors programs, and her leadership experiences for this growth. They have helped provide her with the tools to be a “well-rounded, confident, and courageous student.”
In her free time, Cook loves to draw, decorate cakes and shoot photographs.