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August 2020

Alum promoted to Brigadier General with National Guard

Amy Cook admits she never had grand designs on achieving a certain Army rank when she started her military service decades ago. But others have noticed her leadership, and Cook was honored on July 11 at a formal ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin marking her promotion to Brigadier General in the Texas Army National Guard.

"I just wanted to be a great Christian, mother, wife and employee," admits Brig. Gen. Cook, a 1991 graduate of the Anchorage campus. "I didn't really care where I sat or what rank I held.Amy Cook watches new flag unfurled My goal was to follow God's purpose for my life."

Gen. Cook's ceremony was unusual given the COVID-19 pandemic, with most of the platform party wearing face coverings, very few audience members present and the entire event featured on Facebook Live for friends and family who were not able to attend.

The promotion also represented another rarity: women advancing to the higher ranks. Brig. Gen. Cook said there are only a few hundred generals in the Guard nationwide, and very few are women. It just so happens that her boss is also female - Major Gen. Tracy Norris, the first female commander of the Texas National Guard and only the second woman to ever make Brigadier General in the Texas Army National Guard. In her new role, Brig. Gen. Cook will serve as Assistant Adjutant General for Joint Manpower and Personnel for Texas.

A National Guard technician in her full-time position, Brig. Gen. Cook has spent most of the last 14 years with the Texas National Guard serving in military and civilian human resource positions. Her traditional Guard duties (part-time) look like many others - serving on weekends and special assignments including Military Police, Financial, Public Affairs and Personnel positions across the state of Texas. She is the first to fill the role of Assistant Adjutant General for Joint Manpower and Personnel and is thrilled to be able to continue her work in personnel programs. Her first project is to modernize the Texas National Guard technician program to improve the employment experience for civil service employees across the state.

"We have 25,000 employees, most of which are part-time guardsmen," she explained. "Today our mission ranges from being on the Texas southern border supporting homeland security to supporting the COVID-19 missions to weather, fire and snow response operations. We are a flexible, dynamic force known as the 'Texans Serving Texas' with a variety of mission sets; we have multiple personnel and policy challenges and are proactively seeking resolutions to them."

The journey to General

Brig. Gen. Cook's journey to her new role is winding for sure. She was living in California and attending college as a traditional student majoring in theatre when she says she felt unsure of what she wanted to do with her life. While working in a restaurant, she met some Army personnel who encouraged her to take the Armed Services vocational test (ASVAB) and see if military service might be a good fit. She signed up to join the Army the day she took her test in 1986, choosing to serve as a legal specialist.

After basic training, she eventually ended up in Fort Richardson, Alaska, for three years, taking advantage of the opportunity to finish her bachelor's degree at Wayland's branch there in Anchorage. When she finished in 1991, Brig. Gen. Cook said that started her on a path to her first goal of becoming a commissioned officer and to attend law school in the future.

"I enjoyed the history of the Bible courses. By and large, that was my favorite part of the experience," she recalls, noting that it reminded her of the influence of her grandmother and grandfather, a Navy chaplain in World War II and the Korean War and a pastor. "Not only did Wayland give me the path to finish, but we got to study the Bible. I will always remember thatBrig. Gen. Amy Cook repeats the oath with husband Timothy and the instructor I had."

Brig. Gen. Cook won the Soldier of the Year Award for the 6th Infantry Division, an organization with 15,000 soldiers, and that experience gave her a greater understanding of the Army. She completed Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia and was assigned to the Military Police unit at Fort Bliss in El Paso. Three months later, she led a platoon of 33 Soldiers to Somalia, Africa, in support of Operation Restore Hope.

While working a customs assignment at the Mogadishu airport, she met a Marine named Timothy Cook who would later become her husband. When the couple learned they were expecting twins, she began the process of leaving active duty. Timothy retired and the Cooks headed to his home state of Washington.

Back to the books

"What's cool about God is that the things happen to us and we don't always connect them until later. Almost ten years earlier, I visited the law school in Seattle, and I could not have imagined that I would meet my husband on another continent and we would end of moving to a city that is about an hour from the school I always wanted to attend," says Brig. Gen. Cook. "I was accepted at the evening law school program in 1997, and with the support of my husband and my twins, I graduated in December of 2000."

She also began working as a National Guard Technician in the Human Resource Office for the Washington National Guard in 1997. It has been a crucial part of her advancement.

"I believe I am a General Officer today, because my National Guard employer allowed me to work flexible schedules and balance my work and family commitments while I attended school in the evening," she says.

While in Washington, Brig. Gen. Cook joined the National Guard as a way to stay connected to military service but still enjoy family and a traditional work setting. She worked for the Washington state attorney general for a few years, then the operational needs of the National Guard post-9/11 led her back to full-time employment with the organization. She served in a variety of homeland security, law enforcement, public affairs and personnel full-time and part time assignments before moving to Texas.

When the Cooks moved to Texas in 2006, she joined up with the Texas National Guard as aGen. Amy Cook cuts her reception cake Military Police Officer and accepted a full-time position in personnel. She was again deployed in 2009 as the commander for the 136th Military Police Battalion leading a military police unit to Afghanistan overseeing detention operations. Brig. Gen. Cook maintains her Washington bar license and says her legal background comes in handy when dealing with human resources issues and navigating state and federal statues, regulations and policy in her assignments.

Someday, she plans to sit for the Texas bar exam and become "a country lawyer out in the wilds of Texas." Until then, she's enjoying her current challenges and her new role.

"Getting promoted to General is like starting over. You get a whole new uniform, there are a whole set of classes you have to attend, and you really serve as an example to others," she said. "What really changes (with the new rank) is the way you are thought about and seen by people."

Husband Tim works as a humane officer for the Bell County Sheriff's Office. The couple's twins are 26: Margaret is in veterinary school at Texas A&M, and William works in IT back in Washington. Tim also has three grown children.


Music alumni rely on faith to weather mystery illness

"Anybody who knew Jared before this knows he went 90-to-nothing and talked fast and loud and moved fast and loud and that's been so intriguing - hard but intriguing - to watch him have to slow everything down," says Carla Hardy with a smile. "Everything is on purpose now. Every step, every mouth placement, anything he picks up - it's slow and purposeful and frustrating."Jared and Carla Hardy and children

Life as Carla and Jared Hardy once knew it changed abruptly in January 2018. And now, even 2 ½ years later, the Wayland music graduates do not know definitively what is wrecking Jared's world. But their journey has been a balance of faith, perseverance and living one day at a time, one step at a time, no matter how painstaking that may be.

Since the fall of 2019, Carla has been choral director at Chisholm Trail High School, stepping into the role her husband held since the day the school near Fort Worth, Texas, opened in 2012. Out of the comfortable role she'd held as his assistant director for so many years, Carla has had to navigate a new normal as well. She admits it has been daunting, but she's been grateful too: her mentor still lives in her home and has provided the encouragement she needs to move forward.

In July, the family learned that the school district had approved a request from Chisholm Trail students to rename the performing arts center after Jared Hardy. It was an incredible gift.

"It is the right move. What Jared built at CT - not just in choir, but there are so many traditions on that very young campus - will live way past all of us at Chisholm. He started spirit groups, was the voice of CT and did all the sports announcing, and announced every name at graduation," Carla said. "He was an integral part of every piece of that building that he loved so much, so to have a part of it named after him is just amazing."

Jared is equally blown away.

"I was very surprised but extremely grateful to receive this honor," he said. "I really enjoyed starting traditions that will be around as long as the school is open."

Aside from the students who love him dearly, Carla and their two children are Jared's biggest cheering section, and they've been firmly by his side through this whole ordeal.

First signs of trouble

Carla recalls Jared waking up one morning complaining that his left shoulder was burning. He couldn't use his arm much, but the couple brushed it off as a pulled muscle since they had moved a piano the day before. Within a week, Jared was having trouble coordinating his arm and hand movements. As the pain intensified, the couple consulted a doctor.

"Things began to get ruled out, and they did lots of MRIs that showed no spine or muscle damage or discs out of place. From January to June, all those little things just became more pronounced," she recalls. "He couldn't type anymore or play guitar or piano. The pain radiated down into his right leg, and he got so tired so much more quickly. His whole demeanor really changed, and a lot of that was due to the continuous pain."

In June they saw the first neurologist, who confidently diagnosed Jared with Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, a neurological disorder. But after taking their school choir to New York that month, they knew something more was wrong. In August, Jared had arthroscopic knee surgery to hopefully alleviate pain, but there was no relief. In fact, his speech was slow in Jared and Carla with a former studentrecovering, his balance issues were worsening and his breath was shallow. The doctor referred the Hardys to the Mayo Clinic for further evaluation and they headed there in January.

But more tests and more doctors didn't give them many more answers. Even preliminary thoughts were soon ruled out.

"Jared presents with a lot of pieces from a lot of different neurological diseases; there is not a disease that all of his pieces fit into. We know for sure that he is having issues with protein uptake in the frontal lobe of his brain and everything else looked great," says Carla. "They gave us a preliminary diagnosis but within three months said there is no way because he doesn't have the eye-tracking problems. They considered things like ALS, but for all of those diseases, Jared had something that nullified that option. It is as mysterious as can be."

The Hardys returned home, but Jared never returned to the classroom. Carla and her other assistant live-streamed him into rehearsals since both were dealing with choirs they had not handled solo and they were in the middle of UIL competition season. At the end of the school year, Jared medically retired from teaching.

Living in the unknown

In April 2019, they began seeing another neurologist, who has prescribed a physical and speech therapy plan for Jared to help him function better and halt the progression of whatever is causing such havoc in his body. But they still don't have a firm diagnosis.

"The hard thing is it doesn't matter what box you put him in, none of them have solutions. There is no treatment with those diagnoses," Carla recalled. "That aHardys were honored at 2018 homecomingppointment was a difficult yet very freeing day for us. It was the first time we realized we are probably never going to be able to name this, and that has to be okay."

Navigating the parenting world has also been a fun side challenge for the Hardys. Jakob, 14, and Lily, 11, have been fully aware of all the changes happening to their father. But Carla says they have been troopers.

"It's made them grow up a little bit more quickly than we would have liked, but I'm really proud of who they are and who they are becoming. The way they interact with Jared is one of my favorite things. Watching how they both serve him now and make him laugh is incredible," Carla laughs. "They are taking his role. When hard questions come, we just answer them. We've just chosen to be honest with them."

Though the family knows things may not improve, they are all grateful for the apparent halt in the progression they've witnessed in Jared and remain hopeful. He's able to be home alone while the family is at work and school and therapy is making a difference. So they all press on, one labored step at a time.


Devotional: Are you a fan or a follower?

Have you ever seen a crowd gathering around a performer on a street? As they do their magic tricks or play their instrument, the crowd stands around usually out of curiosity or amazement. And, usually, the better the talent, the more people you'll see gathered around. Nothing is required of the crowd. They are just spectators infatuated with something they've never seen before.

Jesus had the ability to draw such a crowd. The people were amazed at his teaching and the miracles he performed. (Mark 1:22, 2:12) Word spread QUICKLY and many showed up from all over to see what the fuss was all about. There were so many people that oftentimes heFollow me sign found himself with no room to move! His disciples couldn't even eat because the room would be so full. Everywhere he went, a crowd followed him.

But, then, there were the disciples who followed him-the ones Jesus wanted, the ones he called by name, the ones he called to drop everything to follow him. (Mark 1:16-20, 2:14, 3:13-19) In contrast to the ever-increasing crowd, Jesus would often withdraw just to be with his chosen disciples. He would tell them deeper meanings to his teachings and appoint them to go out and preach like he did. They were devoted to him and he to them.

There were two types of followers: the crowd and the committed, the amazed and the anointed, the fans and the followers. Nothing was required of the crowd-but everything was required of his disciples. The disciples gave up their possessions, positions, and power to follow Jesus but the crowd's fandom eventually faded into a mob's hatred.

Reflection or Discussion Questions: Who are you? Are you a fan or are you follower? Are you part of the curious crowd or are you a devoted disciple? What is Jesus requiring of you to follow him?

For Parents of Kids: Play "Simon Says" with your family. After you play, ask your kids, "How do you follow someone?" Explain that when you play "Simon Says" you have to listen to someone and follow their instructions. Connect the truth that we can hear God and we have to follow his instructions as well!

LeAudra Franklin is a 2005 graduate of Wayland in Plainview and lives in Bentonville, Ark. She most recently served as elementary ministries pastor at Grace Point Church, where she enjoyed mentoring other children's ministry leaders. She and husband Daniel, a 2003 WBU graduate, have two children: Cooper, 12, and Colby, 9.

From the History Files

This month's look back at history is a submission by Dr. Vance Bradford, 1968 graduate. We hope you enjoy Vance's memories! Email Teresa if you wish to submit your memories.

As I approach my 75th birthday on September 10, a little thing began to take place in my head; it is reflecting the memories of Wayland between 1964 to 1968. A lot of things took place at the beginning of my freshman year. I remembered my parents saying, "Vance, don't take too many courses." I failed to heed my parent's advice. I started with 17 hours, and my first term at Wayland was a challenging ordeal. I was also helping my dad in his welding shop located east of Plainview on the Lockney highway. I survived my first semester with passing grads (one "A" and all "Cs"), but I learned a fundamental lesson from my parents.

For my second semester, I took 13 hours, and I worked 30 hours a week as an elevator operator and janitor at the Skaggs Building on Broadway and Seventh Street. In my second semester, I did my first research paper in my freshman literature class. I had Mrs. Clark as my English professor, and I was struggling in her class. Each day in her class, a student would begin with an opening prayer. When it came my time to pray, I prayed for a long, long time. I thought that if I prayed for a long time, my grades would go up. I do remember my professor saying, "Thank you, Mr. Bradford, for that revealing prayer." Was it a compliment? I don't know, but the prayers I gave took time away from her class.

For my research paper, I wrote about Robert Browning. I do remember spending some time in the Van Howeling Memorial Library basement for my research project. A beautiful two-story building with an ugly, drab basement, but it was there that I developed a love affair with periodicals, professional journals, and, most of all, research articles. During spring break, I spent my time with the library, and to my surprise, I saw my English professor. She asked what I was doing in the library during spring break. I informed her that I was working on my research paper for her class. She smiled and said, "We will see you in class next Monday."

It seems that luck was on my side. I met a sophomore in one of my classes who could type. Her name was Cuba Harvey, and she had a portable typewriter. After a few weeks of typing, we finished the paper. About a week after I submitted my writing, I received an "A" on my research paper with a written comment, "Mr. Bradford, you did a marvelous piece of work. It was simply marvelous." I was on cloud nine. I survived my freshman year with an added "I can do this" attitude.

Another challenging class I had was geography with Dr. Dawson for the summer session in 1965. In his class, we had to locate 100 cities in the world with their longitudes and latitudes. We also had to write articles on 5 x 8 cards about different countries, and I believe that there were about 140 countries. Part of our final test, the professor told us that we had to locate 10 of the 100 cities on a special graph paper depicting a world map with its longitudes and latitudes. That summer of 1965, I also took Old Testament with Dr. Bishop and tennis with Coach Ozmun. With a part-time job and going to school, I survived, and my grade point average began to rise slowly.

In my sophomore, junior, and senior years (1965-1968), I worked in the cafeteria with Jerry Rogers, Virginia Bowers, Carter Frey, Ron Gillespie, Noemi Vaca, Ray Medina, and others. Mr. Walter Lassiter, Director of Food Services, was a great person to work with in providing excellent food services to both the students and staff and faculty members. In the spring of 1967, Jerry Rogers, Virginia Bowers, and I formed the Kitchen Party to run as candidates for the Student Government Association. We lost, but we made the race interesting.

I also participated in several plays with Dr. Held and Mr. Watson. The plays were "You Can't Take It with You," "Construction," and "Tartuffe." In the play, "You Can't Take It with You," a freshman named Suzanne Gilbert played the part of my wife. In the real story of life, we became husband and wife on August 22, 1970, after receiving my master's degree and an Army commission from West Texas State University. Suzanne (a spring graduate of 1969) and I would have celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary this year. Suzanne passed away on March 21, 2017.

What have I learned from Wayland? I believe that I can share five things. First, Wayland professors welcome their students as new scholars in pursuit of knowledge through reading, thinking, and writing. I can remember going to that dull, drab basement of Van Howeling Memorial Library in quest of scholarly written literature. I would sneak in a Snicker bar because I know I will be there awhile. I would stay there until closing time. Second, as students, we were introduced to a series of moral understandings, opinions, and beliefs to determine what is valuable. We study Greek tradition, Hebrew obedience to law and conscience, and Christian values of humility, forgiveness, and grace.

Third, Wayland taught us to see reality and put our biases or the lens of partisanship in check. Fourth, we were to stand firm with our convictions and to be able to express our thoughts with dignity and grace. Fifth, we were to view new ideas with great anticipation. All of us were born with a desire to learn new things and experience the thrill of reading new passages with words we wish we had written.

Yes, I enjoyed my Wayland days. I can't help but feel that we received the best things that we can ever experience in our lifetime. The professors taught us that humility was a good thing. It seems that humility is in short supply with what we witnessed today in this radical, underground culture. Wayland's influence taught me to be acceptable to attend a dance and invaluable in a storm.


Meet Your Alumni Board: Teresa Alvarado

The new school year brings changes to the WBU Alumni Association Executive Board, and we are grateful for three new members who have joined us to guide the work and mission of our office. This month, we spotlight one of those new members, Teresa Alvarado, BSOE'09 from the Plainview campus, who lives in Crosbyton, Texas.

Teresa has the distinction of experiencing Wayland as both a traditional student and later as a nontraditional student when she returned to finish her degree. Some of her favorite memories involve friends made while hanging out in Pete's Place or the library.

As a human services major, Teresa spent much time in the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences. She credits former professor Dr. Debra Lavender-Bratcher as her mentor while a student and still today. She recalls how understanding and helpful her professors were when she had her baby prematurely and had to be in the NICU unit for six weeks.

"(Dr. Lavender-Bratcher) always had great advice, and she assisted me a few times when I did not have anyone to watch my baby girl. She allowed her to come to class with me a time or two," Teresa recalls. "I am grateful to her and to Wayland for being flexible enough to work with me and help me graduate with my bachelor's degree."

Serving on the board interested Teresa, who is currently finishing up her master's degree, because she wanted the opportunity to give back to her alma mater. She feels her service will allow her to share her experience about how WBU helped her reach her educational, professional and personal goals as a nontraditional student.

She heartily encourages others to consider Wayland for their educational goals as well.

"For traditional students, I would say this is a great university that will ensure that you continue your walk in your faith and ensure you reach your full potential. It will definitely prepare you for the professional career you are seeking," she says. "For non-traditional students, this school understands how life can and will interfere in our educational plans. Wayland and its staff will work with you to find a way to continue your educational goals and provide ways to help you stay on track. Wayland provides assistance to student in non-conventional ways and considers all factors of the student's life. I personally love that they have several online degrees that make it easy for students that work or have family to consider going back to receive their master's degrees."

Teresa and her husband Abraham have two children: Victoria Rose, 12, and Abraham Junior, 10.

A special thank you to outgoing board members Stacie Hardage, Mike Manchee and Yolanda Vera on their longtime service and support!

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