Fearless Intellectual: Rosemary Cook

Rosemary Cook '17 stands in the Chapel.When Rosemary Cook '17 found out she was receiving not one—but three college awards this spring, she immediately thanked God.

“It's incredibly validating and humbling just to be recognized,” she said, noting her graduating class is full of exceptional students.

The De La Salle award is SMC’s top honor, given annually to the graduating senior with the highest record for scholarship and general excellence. But Cook is also receiving awards in each of the two departments in which she's earned degrees: the Jane Addams Award in sociology and the Brother Leo Meehan Award in English.

"Rosemary's achievements at Saint Mary's are truly remarkable," said Professor Robert Bulman, chair of the Sociology Department. "Excelling as both a sociology and English major— at the top of both departments—is breathtaking."

Truth be told, Cook has barely had time to catch her breath in the last four years. With a 3.97 GPA and a list of honors that reads more like a Who's Who in colleges today, she came to Saint Mary's with a purpose.

"I was really trying to make the most of every moment in this four years," Cook said, crediting her parents for her "strong sense of Catholic faith and a strong work ethic, and the idea that everything has a purpose so you can’t squander any of your time or blessings."

So Cook, who grew up in Martinez and graduated from Carondelet High School, immersed herself in her studies, activities, and volunteerism. She wrote for The Collegian and the campus literary magazine, worked three years in the bookstore and the Campus Housing Office, was a liturgical minister in Mission and Ministry (and at her parish) and took numerous leadership roles on and off campus—all while mentoring younger students as an executive commissioner in the Honors Program and living community.

It wasn't easy, but Cook says, what always energized her, was the sense she was lucky. "There are a lot of reasons why I've benefited the way I have and so I've always wanted to give back and have a conscious mind that the person next to me might not have the opportunities I've had."

Perhaps the best testimony to her work ethic and character comes from her English Professor and adviser, Kathryn Koo.

"Rosemary is intellectually fearless. From day one, she has been driven and determined to produce the most compelling work possible. It has been such a pleasure to work with her and watch her evolution as a thinker and writer."

With her experience at SMC as a springboard, Cook plans to intern with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office to gain experience before pursuing a career in intellectual property law.