Edward Cook chokes up a little when he mentions his wife, Joanne. They were married for 52 years before she died two years ago, and now Cook is sponsoring a scholarship in her name. "I want to honor her in every way possible," he said.
The two met when they were both teachers at Stratford Junior High School in Arlington. He taught social studies, English and general science, while she taught home economics. The two were teamed up as faculty in the school when it opened and had time to get to know each other during the process. "I was accused of hanging around the home ec department all the time, and it was true," Cook said. "She was just my ideal. I’ve always been crazy about her."
Given his wife’s love of education, Cook thought that a scholarship would be a good way to establish a legacy in her name. "I thought that she would probably appreciate this," he said.
Joanne Cook had many friends, was a very public person and a dyed-in-the-wool Virginian who grew up on farmland once owned by Patrick Henry, Cook said. He wanted to find someone who embodied some of his wife’s qualities.
Cook lived in Vienna for many years before moving to his new home at the Sunrise Assisted Living Facility on Hunter Mill Road. He contacted the Vienna Women’s Club, which gives out annual scholarships.
The Women’s Club selected Emily Patton, 17, a senior at Marshall High School for the Joanne Cook Memorial Scholarship.
When Emily found out that she won the scholarship, she had a definite reaction. "I cried," she said. "I was jumping up and down screaming."
Emily added that she was very honored to be selected for the Cook Scholarship. Her older sister, Megan, 20, has been fighting cancer for several years. "It’s been a huge financial strain," Emily said.
She tries to be conscious of the opportunities her sister missed. "She missed out on most of her teenage years," Emily said. "I know that she didn’t get to experience lots of stuff." Megan has been very supportive, and has pushed her to perform, Emily said.
IN THE FALL, Emily will be attending Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., where she will study history, architecture and education. Emily is particularly interested in the early Christian period around 100 B.C-500 A.D.
Emily also hopes to focus on architecture and do some study of historical sites. "If I want to be a history teacher, I think I should have some experience in the field." She also plans to study abroad during her undergraduate tenure and is looking forward to college. "It’s the opportunity to grow on my own and discover myself," she said.
The Vienna Women's Club also selected Luana Jang, 18, of Madison High School as the recipient of its annual scholarship. Jang will attend Virginia Tech in the fall. She dreams of becoming a television journalist, but said she may major in business. She has already been accepted into the business school, and since the journalism field is very competitive, she reasons that a business background will give her more options.
Jang works at three jobs. In addition to being a student, she tutors younger children, teaches the viola and works as a receptionist at the Virginia Massage Center, she said.
Jang, who said she was honored to be chosen, also plans on studying abroad and wants to spend her junior year in Spain. "It will just be a fantastic opportunity to learn on my own," Jang said. "I just want to make the best of my undergraduate career."
"They were both very focused on their education and beyond," said Carole Burgess, chair of the Scholarship Committee of the Vienna Women’s Club. "They both were very aware of giving back to the community."
The club is in its 50th year and has given away an estimated $100,000 over those years, said Carmie Dinterman, the club's president.
"The scholarship program is the heart of the Vienna Woman’s Club," Dinterman said. "It just gives us a really great feeling about the young people."
Burgess noted that even though both young women will be taking on large amounts of student loans, they will still go forward with their plans for an education. This year, 13 people had applied for the scholarships, Burgess said. "We interviewed a lot of worthy applicants," she said.