'I Just Needed a Win'
Student Success Center Provides a Needed Spark
By Megan Jonas
Cooper Strout '17 grabs his phone and brings up an image that he's saved for over six years. It's a side-by-side comparison of him and his father, Steve. "That's us at the same age," he says. "Isn't that crazy?"
He knows he and his dad shared a resemblance and "the same grit and persistence," but there's a lot he doesn't know, and never will. Just as Strout began his junior year at Whitworth, his father died of early onset dementia – a disease that had slowly robbed him of his personality and abilities.
"It was awful," Strout says. "The year that followed, I was just losing it."
Strout, a business administration major, says that's when academics became tougher. "My dad had just died. My grades were slipping big time, and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to graduate," he says. "I had these two really difficult things in conjunction, and I started cracking, essentially."
A professor soon took notice. "He pulled me aside and asked if I was doing OK," Strout says. When Strout responded with tears, the professor referred him to Whitworth's Student Success Center, which coordinates care and resources for students in need, and supports them through relationships with staff and with trained students who serve as peer coaches.