Rachel Cook '08

Rachel Cook


Sport and position: Volleyball, middle blocker

Millikin major: Communication

  • Other degrees:
    • Master’s degree in educational administration from Illinois State University.

Current employment: Associate director of advisement and assessment at Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill.

Personal Big Blue stats/athletic achievements:

  • Three-time team MVP
  • Currently fifth all-time in season blocks
  • Currently sixth all-time in career hit percentage
  • Currently tied fifth all-time in blocks in a match
  • Currently third all-time hit percentage in a match
  • Offensive Award (2005)
  • CCIW All-Conference second-team (2005)
  • Finished fourth in hitting percentage (2005)
  • Finished third in kills per game (2005)
  • CCIW All-tournament team (2006)
  • Finished ninth in hitting percentage (2006)
  • Finished sixth in kills per game (2006)
  • Finished tied ninth in aces per game (2006)
  • Finished sixth in blocks per game (2006)
  • Named Offensive Player of the Week (2006)
  • CCIW All-Conference first-team (2006 and 2007)
  • Most Kills and Most Blocks (2006 and 2007)
  • Team captain (2006 and 2007)
  • Finished fifth in hitting percentage (2007)
  • Finished third in kills per game (2007)
  • ESPN Academic All-America third-team (2007)
  • AVCA Division III All-Region honorable mention (2007)

Why did you choose MU?
I chose Millikin because of its size. I wanted to go somewhere small where I could stay involved and know my faculty and classmates really well. I also, obviously, wanted to play volleyball. From my first visit, the team and Coach Kiick made me feel at home and like I could really have an impact on the team.

Aside from Big Blue athletics, what activities did you participate in as a student at MU?

  • I was a member of Phi Beta Lambda business fraternity.
  • I served on the Student Activity Fee Committee.
  • I interned with the sports reporters at WAND-TV for a semester.
  • I had a weekly sports recap bit on WJMU.
  • I worked in Millikin’s sports information office my senior year.

What was your most memorable moment as a Millikin student-athlete?  
My sophomore year we beat Elmhurst, who was No. 7 in the nation at the time, in five home games, and every single game was close. When we won, it was so loud in the Griz. I don’t think we knew we could do it until we did it! That was the same year we got an at-large bid to nationals. Playing on that team was amazing; those were some of the best girls I have ever played with and they were all so extremely talented. They pushed me to be better. I felt very lucky to play with them.

What are some of your accomplishments since graduating from Millikin University?
Right after graduation I was selected as one of 19 interns at the NCAA. The internship is extremely competitive, and it was a very exciting experience. I’ve also earned my master’s degree and I’ve run several half-marathons.

When not supporting the Big Blue, what is your favorite thing to do?
I like to stay active – running, weightlifting, being outside – anything that keeps me on the move. Although contradictory, my other favorite pastime is reading.

Who is your most memorable MU professor/coach/staff and why?
First, I would say Dr. Robert Money, professor of philosophy. I took my honors seminar in philosophy with him my freshman year, and it opened my mind to truly thinking critically and viewing things from others‘ perspectives. It was an amazing class to take as a freshman because it changed the way I learned and understood concepts and things around me going forward in my education. I loved it so much I took an elective philosophy class from him my junior year!
I took a gendered communication class with Dr. Nancy Curtin, associate professor of communication. I can credit that class, and her, for giving me confidence in being a feminist, noticing how people communicate, and how we influence and perpetuate societal norms about gender. It was another class that challenged us, made us think and analyze, and get out of our comfort zones. It made me a better global citizen in recognizing what other people go through, much like Dr. Money’s class.

Everyone in the communication department was great. I loved each of the classes I took with them and they all had an impact on me. Dr. Tom Duncanson, professor of communication, was not only my teacher, but my advisor. I took a public relations class with Melinda Reuter, adjunct instructor of communication, and working in PR was the first job I had out of college. I took several different types of classes with former professor Matt Tucker all of which helped make me well-rounded as a communication professional. And Deb Miller, administrative assistant, who always had a smile for me when I walked into the office suite and wanted to know how I was doing.

How has your experience as a Big Blue athlete prepared/helped make you successful?
Being a student-athlete at Millikin was such a great experience. I learned, of course, time management. I had to stay organized and on top of things to remain successful in class and on the court, which has definitely helped me be successful after Millikin. I also learned to work on a team and as a team, even with lots of different personality types. First and foremost, I always had fun playing, but I was also a serious competitor and I hated losing. I had to learn to play with girls who weren’t necessarily like me in that aspect, and that has made me successful when I have to work on a team.

What advice do you give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
It can definitely be stressful trying to figure out what you want to do after graduation – so it might be hard to heed this advice – but my advice would be to stay open to new ideas and opportunities, even if it isn’t what you originally set out to do. What I thought I would do when I was a senior at Millikin, isn’t at all what I do today. I wanted to work as a sports reporter and now I work in academic advising. I work with student-athletes and am in charge of eligibility for our institution for the NJCAA. I took a crazy path to get to where I am, but I love my job, and I can’t imagine not doing it. Know that your education at Millikin and your experiences in life have prepared you to do all different kinds of things, and you just need to be willing to try those different things.