Corey Cook: Forging My Own Path

Corey Cook shares his experience of finding his true passion in life.  He is a Master of Arts graduate from Norwich University.  With so much misinformation around us on world issues, he is on quest for diverse and well-informed information reach the masses.  He hopes to one day be a figure in fighting for the basic human rights of all individuals. Corey is currently an intern with MALA for the Fall 2016 semester.


“I don’t see myself as anything much.”  This was my lifelong motto.  Growing up in Virginia, I didn’t get many opportunities to see pass my doorstep.  When you are brought up sheltered, you become accustomed to living your life without questioning the status quo.  With everything I did, I lived in fear of what others thought of me, the consequences of the most inconsequential actions—never living life, only existing through the humdrum day-to-day that seemed like it would never change.  I always knew that there may be something more out there for me.  I didn’t know how to attain it, how to grasp it.

I minored in Japanese studies while an undergraduate at Old Dominion University.  I am also conversational in Japanese.  Being a psychology major, it was odd to also be minoring in Japanese studies because it didn’t seem to fit well together.  At the urging of a friend, for my last semester before graduation, I decided to study abroad for a semester in Japan.  I attended Kansai Gaidai University, located in Hirakata City, Osaka.  At first, I was so frightened to be out of my comfort zone.  When I decided to embrace the experience, it became like home.  Being in Japan opened my eyes to a world outside my bubble.  The interaction between students from all over the world really began me to consider a path other than psychology.  Getting to know individuals from Japan, Sweden, Germany, Russia, and Colombia—to name a few—we were all genuinely receptive to each other’s background and experience wanting to know more.  We were all different, yet the same.

The experience was so mind-opening that it completely changed my outlook.  My curiosity in international affairs became a passion.  I knew that I wanted to work in the field but I had no idea of what I wanted to accomplish and how to do so.  I took time to weigh my options and formulate a plan.  Eventually, I decided to go back to school to get my master’s.  I attended Norwich University, receiving a Master of Arts in Diplomacy (with a concentration in International Conflict Management).  This further strengthened my motivation to keep pushing forward.

My passion reached new heights this past year.  This internship is important to me for a number of reasons.  With the demagoguery that has presented itself in the States, I want join in combating what has been said by certain prominent figures.  I believe that MALA does this very well.  The organization shows how Muslim and Muslim Americans are no different from other people’s religious backgrounds.  The organization realizes that people are people and they deserve respect and tolerance.  Furthermore, MALA’s stance not to be discriminatory to any group based on sexual orientation, religion, etc. is also deciding factor in wanting to be associated with its cause.  With my involvement with MALA, I want to communicate to people that we as humans are the same below the surface. No matter your nationality or if you are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, we all have similar dreams, hopes, fears, and go through similar difficulties.  If we are aware of the world around us and well informed on various world issues, we will not likely be swayed with limited and misinformed rhetoric.

It took some time for me to break out of my shell but with focus and direction, there is no telling what I can accomplish.  I am extremely excited for the road ahead.  I’ve come so far but this is just the beginning.

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