Written by Gael Langdon
Mike Cook and Kevin Ray grew up together in Searcy. They met in high-school, Cook a sophomore and Ray a Junior. After 22 years of lives lived separately, they found themselves together at school again working full time on the Harding staff.
Full-time workers at Harding have the opportunity to attend school for free. Though it seemed like a crazy idea and was a daunting decision to make, both Ray and Cook decided they wanted to enroll as students.
“It has taken me two and a half years to do it,” Ray said.
He said it helped to have someone with whom to go through the process, especially an old friend. Living through life’s experiences has compelled both of them to give back knowledge through teaching.
Cook is majoring in exercise science in pursuit of becoming a coach. He said he wants to give kids a confidence that took him a long time to realize in himself. He wants to use coaching as an avenue to go down proclaiming the truth that weakness becomes strength.
Ray said he wants to be an elementary school teacher. He works with the kids at his church, and he said a lot of those kids do not have a father figure or any good parental model in their life. He wants to use his life as an influence and to teach kids how to treat people.
“I had good mentors,” Ray said. “That’s who I want to be.”
In history class, Ray said he is experiencing new ways of teaching and witnessing firsthand how learning has evolved through technology specifically.
Cook is taking sociology this semester. He said he loved it until something was said about Canvas. He is old school. He carries around a notebook and pen everywhere he goes to write down the things he needs to remember.
“That’s going to be my hardest thing I think,” Cook said, “getting acclimated to the technology of everything now.”
Cook said it has always been one of his fears to put himself in a situation that sets him up for potential failure, so starting college scared him to death.
“That is just Satan trying to keep me from being better,” Cook said.
He said he constantly looks back at his life and sees how God has used his failures to be able to relate to the people around him time and time again; how his weaknesses have become his strength. He said failure is nothing to be afraid of.
Ray and Cook work full time and go to school. They are taking it a semester at a time.
“I’m ecstatic,” Cook said. “It’s a new chapter.”