Student Spotlight: McKayla Cook

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What are your pronouns? Your hometown? Your major(s)/minor(s)?

My hometown is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and I use she/her/hers pronouns. I am a Biology major (B.S.) and Spanish minor.

What areas/aspects of WGS do you find most engaging/interesting? What are you passionate about?

Reproductive rights is an aspect of gender-based activism I am especially passionate about, and a big part of this is comprehensive sexual education. For me it’s about having an informed choice about what happens to our bodies and how to care for and love them. What happens to our own bodies is something only we should decide, and in the area of reproduction this right is continuously disregarded. Repro rights are truly human rights.
Makayla Cook headshot

Tell us about any extracurricular work you’re doing (ex. volunteering/local activism), or any involvement you have on campus with clubs/organizations.

On campus, I am the president of Planned Parenthood’s Generation Action chapter where we offer students ways to support our local Planned Parenthood, protect reproductive rights, gain education on healthy safe sex and legistlature surrouding repro rights, and gain a community that values bodily autotomy. We also volunteer for other organizations such as the SC democratic party, for example, to phonebank for this recent election. I am the treasurer of the sports club, belly dance, which this is my 7th semester participating in. I am also a Supplemental Instructor with the Center for Student Learning for BIOL111 this semester, and I am a Senior Leader for the SI program as well, mentoring new SI’s. This semester I am also working on a Bachelor’s Essay on proteomics research with Dr. Michael Janech at CofC.

What does the Ketner Scholarship mean to you?

The Ketner scholarship for me has been a source of community, inspiration, and motivation. I have gained much awareness of the community/CofC and what I can do to help improve it, and have met the kindest coolest people along the way, and it drives me to keep fighting for equality. I am so grateful for the mentorship of Dr. De Welde and the generosity of Linda Ketner that has changed my life for the better and shaped my college experience into something positive and persistent.

What are you plans post-graduation? And how will you take what you’ve learned in WGS with you once you’re no longer a student here?

After graduation, I will be taking the MCAT and applying to medical school. During my gap year I plan to work with my phlebotomy certificate, research (probably in women’s health), and continue to volunteer with Planned Parenthood as well as engage with local activism. My Ketner community has taught me that there are endless connections to make, work to be done, and ways to make positive change, you just have to start talking to people! No matter where I am or what I do I can get involved.

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