Tom and Melinda Cook + 3 – a true Appalachian family
In fall of 2005, Melinda and Tom Cook brought their triplets, middle-schoolers at the time, to Appalachian State University for a football game. Friends of then Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock, the Cooks were guests at Appalachian House and watched the game from the chancellor’s box. Melinda Cook doesn’t remember who won that game, but she does know that weekend was pivotal for her children. “All three decided then and there they’d go to Appalachian and sure enough, they did,” she said.
The Cook family’s relationship with Appalachian began when Peacock asked Tom Cook, Peacock’s tax student at the University of Virginia, to speak at his installation as chancellor in 2005. He agreed and, according to his wife, received a standing ovation after his speech. “Any number of people,” she recalled, “asked me, ‘Who thought a tax attorney could be so funny?’” Since then, the Cooks have been staunch supporters of Appalachian: members of The Yosef Club, generous contributors to several of the colleges and scholarships, and Tom Cook served on the Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2009.
Appalachian has been a great experience for all three of her children, Melinda Cook said. “In part because we have been involved. We try to urge people to get involved. It makes such a difference to have friends on campus and know what is going on,” she said.
Cary Cook will graduate this year with a degree in industrial design from the College of Fine and Applied Arts’ Department of Applied Design. Connor and Colby both graduated in 2014.
Connor, who studied piano for 12 years before college, earned her degree from the Hayes School of Music with a double major in piano performance and composition and theory. “That program was perfect for her,” Melinda Cook said. “The music school rocks. There were so many opportunities. On a trip to Ireland her freshman year, she fell in love with Irish music and that has been a major influence on her writing. We are especially thankful for Dr. Scott Meister, her advisor and mentor for four years. He taught her to compose, and her involvement with his Steely Pan Steel Band exposed her to percussion.” Her mother also said Connor’s piano teacher, Dr. Rodney Reynerson, was inspirational. He, Meister and the intensive music theory studies were significant factors in her daughter’s acceptance to Columbia College Chicago where she is getting her master’s in music for the screen. According to Melinda Cook, “Connor is one of 12 people to be accepted. Twelve in the world!”
The boys have taken different paths but with equal success. Colby earned his degree in business management from the Walker College of Business. He landed an internship at Blue Cross Blue Shield and is now employed with Total Quality Logistics in Raleigh. “It’s extremely competitive and he is doing well in a very stressful business,” his mother said. “He was well prepared for the demands of his job.”
Of her other son, Melinda Cook shared, “After changing his major three times, he found the industrial design program,” she said. “He is passionate about furniture and product design. He is so busy!” He currently has a product placed with a local Boone outdoor recreation store, and he is one of two students working with Dr. Kern Maass, associate dean in the College of Applied and Fine Arts, on a beekeeping project in Durham.
The Cooks support many programs at Appalachian State University, among them are: The Hayes School of Music, Department of Theatre & Dance, Steely Pan Steel Band Program Fund, Yosef Club, Walker College of Business Dean’s Club, the Ken Peacock Fund for Excellence in the Walker College of Business and the Industrial Design Current Fund.