Dr. and Mrs. John E. Cooke, MD, FACEP, recently made a $25,000 gift to the School of Medicine Dean’s Annual Scholarship Fund, boosting their lifetime giving total to over $100,000. The couple has contributed more than $75,000 since 2017 to help students pay for medical school.
Dr. Cooke, a native of Weirton, wanted to contribute to WVU for the education he received. Like many of his peers, he moved away after medical school and felt indebted to his home state.
“I felt I owed the University that gave me my education and a rewarding career, so it’s time for me to pay it forward,” Cooke said.
Before attending WVU, Dr. Cooke attended Alderson Broaddus University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and biology. He graduated from the WVU School of Medicine in 1970. During his residency at the Medical College of Virginia, now part of Virginia Commonwealth University, he was drafted and served in southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. He later moved to the Atlanta area and practiced emergency medicine for 30 years before retiring in 2000.
Dr. Cooke chose to support scholarships so he could see students benefit during his lifetime. He did not receive any scholarships to help him pay for medical school and struggled financially.
“Medical school was intense,” Dr. Cooke said. “I just had no money. … I hope the donations will make it easier [for students] to get through medical school. Maybe someone’s father is a steel worker like my father was.”
The Cookes made their first scholarship gift to WVU in 2009, establishing the Dr. and Mrs. John E. Cooke Mountaineer Medical Scholarship. Wesley Lemons, a third-year medical student from Johns Creek, Georgia, is grateful to have received that scholarship. Lemons is unsure of his choice of medical specialty, but he is leaning towards orthopedics or plastic surgery.
“Out-of-state tuition is extremely high,” Lemons said. “It’s been a great stress relief to get a scholarship. It was a huge deal. It kind of felt like a reward for hard work. Medical school is very hard. You’re studying all the time. It took some of the stress off in worrying about student loans later.”
Dr. Cooke and his wife, Linda, noted that scholarships are particularly important right now, due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
“I think he’s doing a great thing with these scholarships,” Linda said. “To benefit someone else is exactly the right thing to do.”
The Cookes reside in Marietta, Georgia, where they typically enjoy traveling, going to concerts and supporting charitable causes. The couple has been together for 44 years, and they have two adult sons, Chris and John.
Their gift was made through the WVU Foundation, a nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.
To make a gift to the WVU School of Medicine, contact Assistant Vice President for Health Sciences Development Clare Flanagan at 304-293-0788 or email@example.com, or Director of Development Patty Lonsbary at 304-293-1448 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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