Above and Beyond: MEA Member Gary Cooper
MEA member Gary Cooper could have relaxed after retiring from a 30-year career as an autoworker at Ford Motor Co. Instead the 64-year-old former UAW shop steward took on a new full-time role as a community assistant at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor. The support staff position requires him to wear “quite a few hats” and has spurred him on to pursue a degree at Washtenaw Community College through Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Futures for Frontliners, a tuition assistance program for essential workers in the pandemic last year. He hopes to influence students he encounters every day to pursue post-secondary education or training. “Sometimes we can have blinders on, and if we don’t see beyond our own environment or how we grew up, it’s a small world. That’s the thing about education, it opens you up to have the desire to know different cultures and how other people think and live.” While Futures for Frontliners is now closed to new applications, Michigan residents over the age of 25 who do not hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree can apply for another of Whitmer’s tuition assistance programs, Michigan Reconnect. Read more at mea.org/ esp-member-walks-his-talk.