Kate Cook and her familyKate Cook’s interest in helping others care for their mental and physical health inspired her to return to college for a health science degree after taking time off to raise her children. “It has been a huge adjustment,” she said, “but Sage is a great environment. I am very fortunate to be at an institution where I am supported as a nontraditional student and cheered on by my professors.”

Cook earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Russell Sage College in 2018, then entered Sage’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree program. Now, she’s conducting significant research with two classmates that has the potential to be published, and she is preparing for her final year of Occupational Therapy coursework and field experiences.

She said her husband, a member of the Army National Guard, and her 11-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son, encouraged her to persevere in college and graduate school. She also found resources at Sage to support her success.

Cook said that Occupational Therapy’s emphasis on the whole person attracted her to the field, and some of the interventions she learned in class – including mindfulness, breathing exercises and getting enough rest – have helped her to focus on school when she needs to, and to be fully present during time with her family. Sage’s Veterans Relations team assisted Cook with the educational benefits she is entitled to as a military spouse, and the Wellness Center’s professional staff and services helped her meet her own health and wellness goals.

Returning to school is demanding, but incredibly rewarding too – even the homework, said Cook. “My kids tell me all the time how proud they are of me, and seeing me in school has motivated them to take school seriously. They see me pull out my laptop and they pull out their books and work next to me.”

Kate Cook and her familyKATE COOK SHARES WHAT WORKS FOR HER AS A FULL-TIME STUDENT AND PARENT

“I have allowed my children to be part of my college experience. They come to my award ceremonies, I read my school papers to them and they are my ‘practice patients” while I study for lab practicals.”

“I attempt to plan out my week as much as possible, but I keep in mind that I still need to have some flexibility.”

“In order to care for others, you must take care of your own well-being. I take time to unwind or exercise after a long day of school. My kids are learning from watching me and seeing that self-care is important, too.”