The average college student has an overwhelming schedule given the combination of schoolwork, extracurricular activities and a social life. Now, imagine adding the title of Student Body President to this balancing act. Mary Cooper, the “SBP” of UNC, has a schedule that would make some students cringe. But with great support and impressive compartmentalizing skills, Cooper manages to get her work done and still make time to have fun.
Cooper is an Environmental Health Sciences major in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is a member of Kappa Delta Sorority and has succeeded at making a home at UNC far away from her hometown of Nashville, TN. Her involvement on campus is, obviously, inspiring to anyone who recognizes how much she does even beyond her presidency. Cooper succeeds off campus as well. The summer after her sophomore year, Cooper was an intern for First Lady Michelle Obama in D.C. While her talents are impressive to all, to know Mary Cooper and have her as a friend is a really special treat. Many could learn something from such a smart and driven woman. Despite her title, Cooper is still a UNC senior trying to make the most of her time left on campus.
HC: Why did you decide to run for Student Body President?
MC: I decided to run because I had a group of friends who encouraged me to run as a way to give back to the university. Day in and day out, I’m always thinking about the student experience here and what I can do to improve it.
HC: Were you nervous during the election?
MC: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. But I got really good at compartmentalizing. So I would think, this day will be really hard, but I’ll do everything I can. I’ll get it all done and go to sleep for however long that may be, whether it be 30 minutes, 4 hours or 8 hours. Then I’m going to wake up and it’s going to be a great day.
HC: How many hours do you sleep at night? After you won the election, you were quoted saying that you would sleep less during your term as president than you did while campaigning—is this true?
MC: I’m actually a big sleeper. I tend to get more sleep and then work a lot during the day. Collectively, if you combine the hours during the campaign and then those while I’ve been president, I definitely sleep less now than I did then. I arguably worked hard to work even harder.
HC: What do you like to do outside of being SBP?
MC: The title of Student Body President means I get to do so many cool things on campus. But outside of that, I like to go to yoga if I have time. I love to go to KD cocktails and I try to make it to the mixers, but I don’t always have time. Being in KD has just been really great due to the fun opportunities it offers. Also, I used to never make time to go to the football games, but given that it was my senior year, I decided not to miss a home game. I have been to every one we have had, and I am psyched for basketball season.
HC: What is it like being a senior?
MC: Being a senior is great. Being a senior introduces the challenge of juggling being a current student with my responsibilities as Student Body President. It also adds the factor of considering what I am going to do next year. It’s hard to even think about where I was at this time during my first year. It is crazy how much has changed.
HC: What do you want to do before you graduate?
MC: I think climb the Bell Tower; I have never done that.
HC: What will you miss the most about UNC?
MC: At Carolina, it is all about the people. The opportunities to meet and work with such awesome and interesting people are what I’ll miss the most. College is a lot of fun, but it is the best four years to really learn as much as you can. It all changes after you graduate.
HC: What do you want to do next year?
MC: I have no idea. Things are finally starting to come together, but I really don’t know yet.
HC: Finally, how do you stay sane amid the chaos?
MC: I would definitely say my friends. You can’t see this on the interview, but I’ll show you my calendar, and you can see how crazy yesterday was (turns her computer around to reveal an almost entirely full day). My morning started right at nine and things never ended. My friend brought me food during the day and it was totally sweet and totally great. And around 6:30, my boyfriend David picked me up, and said “We’re going to dinner.” So we did. We went for an hour, and then I went right back and did everything I was supposed to do. It’s definitely these things and having a great house to go back to that keep me sane. I live with people who arguably don’t know too much about student government, so they can’t ask me intricate details about the life that I live and breathe all day.
Mary Cooper will continue to work each day to make positive changes for the students of UNC. To learn more about her platforms and projects, read Cooper’s executive branch progress report.
Mary, scarf (photo): http://www.sph.unc.edu/images/stories/news/cooper.mary.DTH.jpg