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RCC staff and faculty with whom she worked surprised Angie Cooper recently with a party to celebrate her graduation and impending wedding.

Pictured in the back from left are: Carmela DiLeva, Daisy Fields, John Salinas, Cathy Belisle, Tiffany Clarkin, Arlene Dowell, Alice Temple, Jim Van Brunt, James Dunn and Connie Denham. Seated in front are Francine Gentile (left) and Cooper.

Angela Cooper & staffWhile the financial boost from RCC Foundation scholarships has been important to Angie Cooper, knowing that people believed in her has meant the world.

“These scholarships were the keys to doors I thought were always going to remain locked,” Cooper said. “They really help with books and tuition, but it also means that someone shares my dream,” she added. “Having other people believe in you — even though they are strangers — was so important.”

In 2010-11, Cooper received a $750 James F. and Marion L. Miller scholarship. In 2011-12 she received three scholarships: $400, RCC Counseling Department; $1,000, Flaming Family; and $500, American Association of University Women (AAUW) of Grants Pass.

On June 16 Cooper will become the first generation in her family to graduate from college, and she’s especially proud of having earned a 3.95 GPA. “I got one “B” in math; guess that shows I’m human,” she said, laughing.

A 2004 graduate of North Valley High School, Cooper had managed cell phone stores but tired of making money for other people.“I wanted to make a difference in the world, and it seems like you need a degree to do that,” she said. “In high school I never even thought about college. ‘College is for rich people’ was my mindset,” she explained. But when Cooper came to RCC, she took to academia like a duck to water. “Applying for scholarships and student employment and talking with counselors. . .it all just snowballed into being possible,” Cooper recalled.

“I fell in love with psychology and knew right away that was what I wanted to do. It’s amazing to learn why people do the things they do and help them understand that better,” she said.

Cooper has been a student worker with RCC Continuing Education and the Instructional Division, and recently several staff and instructors from both areas turned out for a surprise party celebrating Cooper’ graduation and impending marriage. She will wed Curtis Weatherwax on May 26 at Ft. Gordon, Georgia. She plans to take online classes through Eastern Oregon University, earn a psychology degree, and become a counselor.

Cooper credits much of her success to the RCC faculty’s expertise and supportiveness.

“It’s really rare to find an instructor here who’s not amazing,” she said. “They are all passionate about what they do and excited to teach you and make you think — not to mention that they make it fun,” she added. “I feel confident about the education I’ve gained. It’s been pretty intense, but I feel like I’ve grown a lot over the past three years.”

Have a story idea for the website? Please E-mail Rand Hill

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