Sherry Cook has brought her expertise and knowledge to the Missouri State University Marketing Department for more than 25 years. In and out of the classroom, she has dedicated herself to her students, peers and community. At the end of summer 2020, Cook will retire from Missouri State and pursue other personal projects, but her contributions to the university will be remembered forever.
Cook, a proud graduate from West Plains High School, began her journey with Missouri State at the West Plains campus, then known as Southwest Missouri State University. After her first year of classes, she transferred to the Springfield campus to complete her bachelor’s in marketing with a minor in legal studies in business. While finishing her degree in her third year of schooling, Cook met her future husband Dennis and the two quickly became a pair.
The new couple moved to Topeka, Kansas, for work before eventually moving back to Springfield six months later to follow their careers. Sherry and Dennis were married in March 1980 and, later that summer, Cook went back to school at MSU to work on her Master of Business Administration. She started work as a graduate assistant in the Finance and General Business department, launching her continuous employment with the university for the next 40 years.
After completing her MBA studies, Cook was offered a per course teaching position in the Marketing Department. She also accepted a position as the internship and cooperative education coordinator for Missouri State. Cook loved the direct involvement she had with students and was eventually made the director of the department. These jobs kept her busy as she worked in the Career Services office during the day and taught classes in the evenings. Although it wasn’t her original plan, Cook says, “I just took advantage of opportunities that came my way!”
Following the birth of her first child in 1990, Cook wanted to make a change. She left her position in Career Services and transitioned to teaching two classes a semester for the Marketing Department. By 1998, both of her children were older and attending school, allowing her the ability to teach full time in the Marketing Department.
In her time teaching at Missouri State, Cook has focused on two different courses: Marketing Yourself and Advanced Advertising. Students in Marketing Yourself are taught the skills needed for them to succeed in the world of business, from writing a good résumé to making the transition to full-time employment. With her previous experiences in the Career Services office, Cook is able to give students an in-depth look into what they need to know to plan for their futures. “Students come in as college kids and leave as young professionals,” Cook says. “The transformation is striking!”
In Advanced Advertising, students develop thoroughly planned marketing campaigns for real world clients. The clients are different each semester, ranging from departments within Missouri State to local businesses. The campaigns students create are often used by clients and Cook says, “for some we’ve been able to truly change the trajectory of their business or organization.” A constant challenge that Cook had to face was the ever-changing world of marketing. “It’s been professionally challenging and rewarding to stay abreast of all the changes brought on with digital marketing,” says Cook.
Beyond the classroom, Cook still dedicates a lot of her social time to Missouri State. The Cook family, lifelong theatre and sports fans, have held season tickets for Tent Theatre and Bears athletics teams for many years. Cook’s involvement with Missouri State will continue past her retirement. “Much of our social life, as well as professional life, involves MSU,” says Cook. “That won’t change.”
She has also developed many professional relationships during her time at the university. Some of her greatest friends are fellow educators or alumni. One person in particular has greatly influenced Cook’s career trajectory. Carol Silvey, a former professor at MSU-WP, was one of Cook’s first professors. Cook says that Silvey is “a lifelong mentor,” and that they still keep in touch on a regular basis.
While she has been inspired by her superiors, Cook also has a great appreciation for her students and colleagues. When asked to recall a special memory during her time in the Marketing Department, Cook had trouble selecting just one. She says some of her favorites include, “helping students land good jobs, laughing with my colleagues and GAs and walking in graduations.” One particular graduation ceremony holds a special place in her heart: when her daughter received her own MBA from Missouri State.
Although she may be retiring, Cook has no plans of slowing down. In 2004, Cook founded Creative3, LLC with her sister Terri Johnson, an MSU alumni and elementary educator, to develop new ideas to teach science in the classroom. The two work together to turn ideas into tangible products: Johnson develops the educational materials while Cook focuses on the marketing aspects of the company, including their websites, social media, customer service and more. Together they’ve developed two science series that consists of 52 books, several apps, science kits and teachers’ manuals that are sold around the world. Cook plans to expand her involvement with the company in her retirement and will be traveling to conferences to further promote their products with her sister.
Cook is excited to spend her extra time with her family, developing her business and improving her marketing skills. Through her personal and business pursuits, she plans on keeping up to date on the latest marketing topics. “Marketing is always fresh, dynamic and changing,” says Cook. “I hope you’ll love it and it will be as good to you as it has been for me.”