The Rev. Dr. Beth A. Cooper has been honored by the National Campus Ministry Association (NCMA) with the 2014 Richard Ross Hicks Award for lifetime contributions to outstanding multi-ethnic ministry.
In a time when the most prevalent religious preference of students is “none,” and when young adults experience high rates of stress and depression; financial and social pressures; exposure to abuse of alcohol, alcohol and sex regardless of their ethnicity; Dr. Cooper has led the Wesley Foundation serving San Diego State University to develop resources that impact the lives of students in positive ways. She calls it “paying it forward,” meaning that when young adults receive help and experience life in positive ways, they turn around and “pay it forward” to others.
Rev. Cody Nielson, President of NCMA, is presenting the award to Rev. Cooper in the photo above.
Students of all racial backgrounds are in need of a helping hand and structured support services to make their way to a degree and a vocation beyond college. The programs developed by Dr. Cooper offer campus ministry support that includes housing, life skills, academic skills, and faith cultivation. The outcome is that young adults become stable and mature, in ways that benefit them, their families, and the broader culture. Over the past 17 years, Cooper has worked with students at San Diego State University who have come from over forty different nations.
Cultural immersion experiences are part of today’s education. First generation college students tend to have fewer financial resources than their colleagues, but traveling on a shoestring, four different times Dr. Beth has taken students on Civil Rights Tours through the South. Students have met with civil rights leaders, toured sites and museums, and heard powerful stories of the impact that young adults have made in this country.
On one of these trips, a group of students with four different ethnic backgrounds were not able to find motel accommodations in Mississippi because of racial discrimination. When Dr. Beth appealed for help to a motel manager from India, he gave them a back area for students and advised of potential dangers if they were to leave the room at night. Another time on a day outing from San Diego across the Mexican border, the U.S. border patrol held up students of color for several hours while letting Caucasian students pass. Their personal experiences of discrimination were unforgettable.
Dr. Beth’s determination has ploughed fresh ground for campus ministry and helped a rainbow bouquet of students. Anyone interested in learning more about the underserved needs of young adults and the Wesley Foundation SDSU’s “Pay it Forward: Investing in Young Adults” program can reach Dr. Cooper at www.wesleyfoundationsdsu.com.
The Hicks Award was presented to Dr. Cooper by the Rev. Cody Nielsen, NCMA President, at the 50th Anniversary NCMA Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri. The award is named for Richard Ross Hicks who worked tirelessly for civil rights for all persons.
[tw-button size=”medium” background=”” color=”” target=”_blank” link=”http://www.calpaccampus.org/”]See our Cal-Pac Campus Ministries[/tw-button]
Submitted by Dr. Alice Knotts