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Cabrini Valedictorian Abeni Cooper (ʼ24) Is Uniquely Prepared for a Future in Psychology

Posted on 5/2/2024 2:29:47 PM

When Abeni Cooper (ʼ24) stands on stage during Cabrini University’s 64th and final Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 19, 2024, she will be the first in her family to have achieved a bachelor’s degree, fulfilling the University’s Education of the Heart, and filling her family’s hearts with pride. And as valedictorian, she has truly demonstrated the necessary academic excellence and, in particular, an authentic commitment to Mother Cabrini’s mission.  

With a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and minors in Spanish and Black Studies Education, the Philadelphia, PA native’s academic accomplishments also include a place on the President’s List, and qualifying for induction into the Alpha Lambda Delta, National Society of Leadership and Success, and Delta Epsilon Sigma honor societies. 

In her free time, Cooper has worked with Cabrini’s Step Team, but commits whatever time she has to supporting fundraising projects with her peers, and tutoring children who experience challenges in mathematics at the New Hope Christian Academy. As she strives to live a life of service to others, she feels uniquely prepared for her future in service as a psychologist from her experiences at Cabrini.

Cooper’s interest in a career as a counseling psychologist with a focus on adolescents is due in part to the positive experience she had with a therapist when she was going through a hard time herself as a teenager. It's important to her that teens have necessary coping skills early in life, so that they can go on and build on them later. And she is excited at the prospect of providing such support herself.

Cooper shared mixed emotions about the unique academic experience she had at Cabrini. Like most students, the COVID pandemic had a profound impact. From her freshman year, she found that she and her classmates, even though they were isolated, still made the effort to stay connected and to build friendships. She says, “This situation prepared us for the unexpected. And I think being able to look at it as a teachable moment, rather than something that we just had to go through and just had to figure out. We gained skills in this time that you probably can't gain without that extra experience.”

She feels the same about the impact of the closure and being a part of the final graduating class. “I am thankful for the friends that I have made, that are still here, because like they make the social aspect of it real for me. And I'm grateful that the organizations are still putting on events, etc. It's bittersweet, but I'm definitely looking back on the time that I had here with fondness and almost wishing that I valued it more.”

Cooper emphasized the significance of having a supportive network. She has also been impacted greatly by the Cabrini community, including friends, staff, and faculty. In particular, two faculty members helped Cooper to find her path. Initially a communications major under professor John Doyle, she took a psychology elective with Dr. Kimlee Fogelson Turet. Cooper says of Dr. Fogelson Turet, “She helped me explore that this [psychology] was such an interest of mine. I would literally talk to her for at least an hour after every class, just sharing my thoughts. And she said, you know, you should probably declare as a psych major, maybe even neuro? She really helped me think about it in my own right.”

Cooper is also comforted by a strong personal support system, specifically her mom. “She's definitely my number one cheerleader going into the adult world. And she keeps it realistic. She says, “You know, it is scary, but none of us know what we're doing and it's totally okay if you change careers, like everybody does. So just do what's best for you at that moment.”

What’s next for Cooper? First, finding a job so she can be financially prepared for grad school as a long-term goal. But she does feel well prepared for whatever comes next due to the strong framework built here at Cabrini.

Cooper says, “You know, nothing is sure in life, but the one thing that is sure is you. Because you've got yourself to each point that you made it to. So feel confident in that, whether or not you feel as though you've done your best. You have done your best because you're here today.”