Rewriting Life’s Journey
Katie Cooper overcame addiction to complete a degree at Tri-C and open door to a writing career
A heroin haze once clouded daily life for Katie Cooper. Her addiction left her homeless and led to nights in jail. She was — by her own admission — on a path of self-destruction.
One day, Cooper looked at that bleak future and vowed to change course. Her journey to recovery brought her to Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®), where she started taking classes in spring 2018.
“Tri-C became a place where anything was possible,” she said. “I could explore my creativity. I discovered areas where I was good at things.”
The talent Cooper revealed powered her to an Associate of Arts degree, which she will receive at the College’s fall commencement ceremony. The 27-year-old will graduate with academic honors.
Cooper said that courses at Western Campus in Parma unlocked her passion for writing and love of art. She called instructor Stephanie Craig — an assistant professor of art — an inspiration.
“She’s changed the way I perceive art,” Cooper said. “Everything in life makes more sense after taking those classes.”
Cooper grew up in Norwalk but moved to Cleveland during her rehabilitation about four years ago. She was introduced to the College through Metropolitan Campus, located near where she worked downtown.
Starting college following a seven-year gap from high school brought challenges. Cooper said she was intimidated by all the “young people” who seemingly knew exactly what they wanted to do.
Yet those fears pushed her to learn more about herself. Things eventually started to click.
“The feeling of sharing my writing with another person … I’ve never felt anything quite like that before,” she said. “I started to identify with these kids and what it means to know what you want.”
Following graduation, Cooper will transfer to Case Western Reserve University to continue her studies. She has been a student in the Cleveland Humanities Collaborative program, which provides a bridge between Tri-C and Case.
Tri-C opened that door, Cooper said. She said the College “created something” she never encountered before. She hopes to pursue a career in creative writing, possibly through teaching and helping others achieve success.
“I don’t know what I’d do without the people who’ve helped me,” she said. “Not only do I want to be a professor or a master at my craft, but I want to make people feel the way everyone here made me feel.”
Cuyahoga Community College will celebrate the academic achievements of nearly 1,800 graduates on Dec. 17 at Fall Commencement. Check our News and Events page in the days leading up to the ceremony as we highlight members of the Class of 2019.
December 14, 2019
Madeline Shepherd, 216-987-4616 firstname.lastname@example.org