Senior class president Alex Cooper views his time at Washington University in St. Louis as truly “transformative.”
When he takes the podium during the 151st Commencement ceremony May 18, he will urge fellow graduating seniors to reflect back on their time at the university, paying special attention to the key relationships that have fostered growth.
“The basic focus of my speech is looking at the change that has occurred over the time that we have had at Washington University, and how the time that we have spent here has changed us,” Cooper says. “Each relationship that we have created over our time here has had an impact on us as we graduate today.
“I hope to convey to the graduates the importance of self-reflection and making sure that throughout our lives after Washington University, we continue to foster that growth.”
Cooper, a native of Little Rock, Ark., says his experiences at WUSTL have helped him become a more focused student, a more centered individual and a better friend. “I have created relationships that challenge me to be a better person and hold me accountable to my core beliefs.
“I have learned in my time here, that what you think you know so well, you really do not, both in the classroom and socially. I have learned to question everything to increase my understanding. I have learned that the world we live in is so diverse, and the people that surround you can teach you so much.”
Cooper did not initially think about becoming senior class president, but felt he could build cohesion after working with wide-ranging student groups, including the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, the Association of Black Students, Student Union, Pride Alliance and Model United Nations, an academic simulation that educates participants about current events, international relations and diplomacy.
He became excited about the prospect of planning events that would strengthen bonds among the 1,420 seniors and help prepare them for life after Washington University.
“Last year, Alex made a conscientious decision to run for senior class president,” says Jill Carnaghi, PhD, associate vice chancellor for students and dean of campus life. “He had not served as an officer in previous class councils, yet he and his fellow officers were excited to serve their class and wanted to create a series of programs for their classmates that would bring them even closer together during their remaining time here at Washington U. ”
Cooper and others organized a fall break trip to Chicago as well as Senior Week activities in May, which included traditional events such as a float trip and Cardinals games, while adding a new and concluding event at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.
“Alex has worked diligently to ensure that these programs are well advertised, planned and implemented,” Carnaghi says, adding that Cooper has served as a class consultant for university administrators.
Cooper is double-majoring in urban studies in Arts & Sciences and operations/supply chain management in the Olin School. Following graduation, he will head to California to begin work in the Silicon Valley at Google, doing corporate policy and client management.