A college graduate from Indiana lands a job at a local radio station. Shortly after, she is hired as a television news correspondent for a major network in Washington, D.C. To any communication arts student, this may seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity. However, Anderson University alumna Loretta Cooper, a 1988 mass communications graduate, experienced this dream firsthand, and she revisited the campus on Monday, April 4, and Tuesday, April 5, to share her inspiring story with students, faculty and staff.
“Getting the first job is the hardest part,” Cooper told a group of AU students during a question and answer session on Monday night. Cooper worked for a radio station in Kokomo, Ind., and a television station in West Lafayette, Ind., prior to obtaining her job in Washington, D.C. She acquired her ABC news correspondent position after sending the network a series of stories about the Midwest during news shortages in Washington. While working at ABC, Cooper interviewed well-known politicians, musicians and actors, and she covered a variety of political affairs. [Photo on left: Loretta Cooper speaks in chapel with Dr. Donald Boggs, professor of communications and chair of the Department of Communication Arts.]
“[Cooper] possessed a strong work ethic and a willingness to do what it takes to succeed in her profession,” said Dr. Donald Boggs, professor of communications and chair of the Department of Communication Arts. Boggs taught Cooper while she was a student at AU, and he collaborated with Cooper on the 2008 Covenant Productions® documentary “A Ripple of Hope.”
Several years ago, Cooper left ABC to focus on raising her two sons, Carson and Bennett, with her husband Kyle, a youth pastor. She is currently the owner of Clarity Communications Group, a media consulting firm in Virginia.
While on campus, Cooper spoke to current AU students during two class sessions, as well as in the on-campus coffee shop Mocha Joe’s, and Martin Hall, where she lived as a student. These sessions, titled “Conversations with Cooper,” were interactive, as students were invited to share personal anecdotes and ask questions. Discussion topics ranged from Cooper’s personal AU experience, which she described as a little too “boy-crazy,” to maintaining Christianity in the workplace.
“Loretta expressed that she has always known what she wanted to do as a career and did everything to stay focused and achieve that goal,” said AU sophomore Julia Smith, a communication arts and international education major who attended the session in Martin Hall. “She wanted to share her story with us, but she was even more interested in hearing our stories and where we were coming from.”
Cooper also met with AU faculty, staff and alumni at a luncheon in Kane Dining Room on Monday, where she discussed many similar topics. On Tuesday, Boggs and Cooper spoke during chapel about how to handle the stress of working in the news broadcasting industry, but also the importance of the storytelling involved. [Photo on right: Loretta Cooper with President Dr. James L. Edwards and his wife, Deanna.]
“You have to be a reader and always be a student,” said Cooper. “Everybody needs to recognize how their experiences fit in to the grand story that we are all a part of.”
During the remainder of her time in Indiana, Cooper will catch up with old roommates and friends and purchase Indianapolis Colts gear for her family. While Cooper admits that her success story is unconventional, she credits her time at AU as a motivator to succeed. “I love this place,” said Cooper. “I want to continue to see it thrive, succeed and provide to other students the firm foundation it gave to me.”
View photos of Loretta Cooper's visit in the Anderson University Flickr album.
— Eva Christine McKnight is a sophomore from Batesville, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in dance performance and English. McKnight is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.