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Tuesday November 29th

SBP candidate Mary Cooper primed for politics

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Mary Cooper
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At an early age, Mary Cooper proved she was ready.

When her father, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., started to campaign for political office, four-year-old Mary tagged along for his speeches.

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Monday: Brooklyn Stephens
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Thursday: Rick Ingram

Before these speeches, family friend Harold Segroves would often lift Mary onto his shoulders and ask if she was “ready for action.”

“Ready for action, Harold!” Mary would respond.

At one of the initial staff meetings for her student body president campaign, Cooper once again issued a call to action, said Walt Peters, one of Cooper’s five campaign managers.

“She looked at us and said ‘You are the Harold, and I want to let you know I’m ready for action,’” he said.

But being student body president wasn’t always on Cooper’s radar. Peters said that he met with other members of student government to discuss their ideal candidate, and Cooper’s name came up. The group then decided to show up on her doorstep at The Warehouse on a whim.

“We told her that we didn’t know what her plans were, but we would love to see her as student body president,” Peters said. “She told us that she had been thinking about it but wasn’t going to do it without a team behind her.”

But beneath her enthusiastic demeanor lies a commitment to service, her friends said.

“She’s a force to be reckoned with,” said Abby Nix, Cooper’s roommate.

Cooper helped to raise more than $160,000 during a two-year span as philanthropy chairwoman for the Kappa Delta sorority, she said.

She also served as the co-chairwoman of HOPE Garden, which employs Chapel Hill’s homeless population and teaches self-sufficiency through growing food. The student-designed garden speaks to her true passion — the environment.

“I’ve had several environmental geek moments,” she said. “I enjoy getting people involved in the environment and contributing to the cross-pollination of cultures.”

Cooper’s cabinet will also seek ‘green certification’ by the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling in an effort to meet UNC’s goal of becoming coal-free by 2020.

Cooper would also pursue a student enrichment fund, using a model similar to the Eve Carson Scholarship to give grants to students to attend conferences, lectures or seminars and gain exposure outside Chapel Hill, she said.

Expanding Carolina Computing Initiative printing to unconventional locations, such as Graham Memorial or Greek houses, and providing a flat-rate taxi service to transport students safely off-campus would further her administration’s goals of helping students in whatever capacity possible, she said.

“I want to help you do your job better,” Cooper said. “Whether the barriers are policies or a lack of publicity, we are there to help you and really highlight the resources in student government.”

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