September 22, 2023

CSU Couple Pursuing Educational Goals Together

by Sonya D. Lavett

Both Mark and Tania Cook understand the importance of goal setting. Meeting when Tania was in the 8th grade, the couple have now been married almost 20 years. In between fighting fires, fighting crime, and raising a family, they decided that it would be in their best interest to continue their education. They each chose a separate degree program to pursue at Columbia Southern University that would help them ignite their individual career paths.

While Mark has twenty-one years of service under his belt as a police officer, he actually began with a totally different profession in mind. Inspired by food and a love of cooking and grilling, he wanted to be a chef before deciding to go into law enforcement. Today, Mark serves as chief of police at the Granite Quarry-Faith Joint Police Authority in North Carolina, a CSU Learning Partner.

“Being the head of an agency, completing my degree has expanded my job skills and knowledge, which I can apply to everyday functions of the department. My degree program has enhanced my productivity in the process of writing professional, comprehensive reports, building on my leadership skills, and working with budget and human resource matters. Furthermore, completing my degree has offered me a well-rounded approach to problem-solving and has enhanced my communication skills. This is a major personal and professional accomplishment that I plan to use to further my career; my education has already helped me in being successful as chief of police,” Mark explains.

Tania, who just completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Management, was actually the very first female firefighter in Mooresville, North Carolina. At one time, she was scared to death of fire. “If I’m scared of something, I’m just going to do it anyway. I was picked on and teased at first by all of the males in the department, but the more they gave me a hard time, the more I wanted to do it. They made me so angry,” she laughed.

Currently working at Mitchell Community College, Tania works with many students who are actively seeking employment. She believes “human resources is an area that everyone should be familiar with. As employees, it is our responsibility to know what our rights are, as this effects all of us in the workforce.”

Both Mark and Tania enjoy cooking for the family and their two teenage sons. They love to hike, camp and do anything outdoors. Tania also enjoys gardening and planting additional herbs to her already expansive herb garden. The entire family sometimes finds one another sitting at the kitchen table working on separate homework assignments.

When each was asked what advice they would give to future students, both exclaimed, “don’t stop and don’t give up!”

Tania added, “Always try to stay ahead in your work. As most of us are adults with families and jobs, things go wrong and can set you back. If you plan for the worst so you are ready for it, more than likely it won’t happen. Be inspiring to your family and friends and allow them to help you along your journey.”