How do you measure someones life? Is it by self improvement, or is it by the change you make in others’ lives? For most, just having positive self improvement is a milestone, but making a change in others lives is an accomplishment that can resonate farther than anything else. Chuck Cook was not only one to make a drastic improvement in his life, but reached into others’ lives and helped improve theirs as well.
I first met Chuck during our orientation days at the University of San Diego. Being that USD is a “traditional” school, students ages range mostly 18-22 years old; it is very rare to see anyone past their mid 20’s. Myself, being 28 at the time when I transferred to USD, and Chuck being 31, we met because we had the “hey, you don’t look like you just graduated high school” look from across the room. We immediately became friends and stuck together throughout the rest of our time at USD.
Being non-traditional students, transfers, and living off-campus gave us a huge disadvantage for meeting and relating to students, so we both wanted to be as involved as possible. Chuck was the only person that I knew that that was involved in more clubs and organizations than I was, and had this uncanny ability to balance all of it. Granted, anyone that knew him knows that he would run around as this big stress ball, but that was his way of balancing all of it, and damn was he good at it.
While at USD, Chuck served as a mentor for a lot of the younger students and helped them in more ways imaginable. We were both in unique situations being undergraduates later in our lives, being able to work with and become friends with people 10-15 years younger than us. He would serve as a mentor, teacher, counselor, and most importantly, friend, to everyone he knew and worked with. He improved lives, and for that will forever be remembered.
Chuck was not only an inspiration because of the change that he made to others while at USD, but also because of the change in his personal life. I am not going to go into great detail about his amazing transition, but just know that he made a complete 180 for the absolute best. Not everyone follows the traditional path of college right out of high school, but for him to come back to college in his 30’s was a major success. He not only went back to school and graduated with a B.S. in Accounting, but got a job at KPMG, one of the best accounting firms in the nation. I can not even begin to explain the major success story that Chuck is, but just know that it is hands down one of the most motivating stories that I have ever witnessed.
Another way that Chuck influenced me personally was the introduction to the LGBT community. While serving in the military, I had friends that were gay, but never knew anyone that could openly talk about it. I can say that Chuck opened my eyes to the community and shared with me, not only the lifestyle, but the struggles of everyday life. I was honored to have such a close friend that was able to openly talk about it, and help me understand the LGBT community.
I know that if Chuck could have lived longer, he could have made an impact on so many other lives, as he has mine, but I also know that his story and memory will forever live on and help others in their lives as well. Rest in peace, Chuck: you were an amazing individual.