SNU Inside Story: Kylie Cooper

Story compliled and edited by Paul McGrady, SNU Athletics

Last spring Kylie Cooper was asked to give a two-minute talk to one of the committees at the meeting of the SNU Board of Trustees. She quickly shared that she had become a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ in the last few months of her senior year at SNU. She also talked very briefly about a life changing mission trip ministering to the homeless and destitute of the inner city of San Francisco.

There had to be more to this story………

Kylie Cooper is now in her first year of Law School at the University of Oklahoma. Kylie came to SNU because she was recruited as a pole-vaulter for the Track & Field team. “My parents were pretty surprised I wanted to attend a Christian University but they allowed me to accept the opportunity and a scholarship helped partially pay for my education” Kylie recalls. “My background was different than a lot of students at SNU. The longer I stayed here, the more I liked it.” She lived at home her first three years and excelled as a collegiate pole-vaulter qualifying for the NAIA National Championships on three occasions. “I moved on campus my senior year because I wanted to be more involved at SNU. That year I served as a student government vice president for student relations,” stated Cooper.

“There was a couple of people specifically who really influenced my decision to give my life to Christ. The first person was Joel Dougherty, our vaulting coach. He made it clear from the start that we could talk to him about anything. He was one of the first people at SNU to have an honest conversation with me about Christ and my life. The second person who influenced me was Bekah Barkocy. She became one of my best friends. I saw the way she lived her life and the strength she had in Christ. I wanted that same comfort that she had. Thirdly, Marian Redwine played a big part. Her dedication to all of us in SGA, all the students at SNU and to Christ was a really new perspective for me. Lastly, Nathan Holliday played a huge part. I could never understand how he based his identity in Christ and not on the things he did in college. It was really refreshing. I wanted to be able to identify myself in Christ and not base my worth on worldly things.”

“Chapel was also another big influence in my time at SNU. I went every week for four years. I can't lie. It wore me down! I tried so hard in the beginning to fight it. But I finally realized that what Brad Strawn and all the speakers were saying really was a life and death struggle. That constant weekly reminder of God's love for us is the thing I miss most about SNU” Kylie recalls.

The apex of Kylie’s journey occurred spring break of her senior year when she went on an SNU mission trip to San Francisco where she worked with many of the city’s underprivileged citizens. “This trip really affected how I look at life. I appreciate everything so much more today in my life. I desperately want everyone I meet to know they matter. I never want anyone to be overlooked and for everyone to know the redeeming Christ that I do!”

After graduation at SNU with a Politics and Law degree, Kylie began Law School at OU last fall. Kylie now looks to the future.

“I know when I graduate from Law School I have to find a job. I'm really looking into a profession in civil rights, or something else where I can really help people. I want to work pro-bono for people who cannot afford attorneys. Hopefully I can make a tangible and positive difference in people’s lives. Long-term, I can see myself moving to San Francisco and continuing work in the Tenderloin. It changed my life and I feel such a connection with the city. So many of those people have trouble with the law. I want to serve and work for them and help them to start their lives over.”

Lives transformed and a desire to ‘pass it on’ is a common theme with SNU graduates. Kylie Cooper believes anything is possible now when she looks into the future!

For those who are not aware, a pole-vaulter is trained to sprint down a runway and jab a fiberglass pole into the ground. The pole bends and finally the pole snaps back straight and the momentum catapults the athlete skyward. That is a perfect analogy of what happened to Kylie Cooper in her magnificent journey through Southern Nazarene University! (story compliled and edited by Paul McGrady, SNU Athletics)