MHA Creates Scholarship to Honor Life of Ronno Cooke

The Morganton Humanist Alliance is honoring the life of local educator Ronno Cooke through the newly created MHA Ronno Cooke Memorial Scholarship.

Cooke died Jan. 4 at the age of 57 following a three-and-a-half year battle with cancer. He was an OSHA Safety Instructor for several community colleges in western North Carolina, including Western Piedmont, which is the designated school for the scholarship. Aside from teaching, Cooke was a master craftsman in woodworking who built custom furniture and cabinets. He was known as an advocate for the environment and social justice. His passions included hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, music and socializing, according to his obituary.

Late in 2016, members of the MHA voted to start raising money for an annual scholarship to benefit local college students attending Western Piedmont Community College. After receiving interest in sponsoring an event at Brown Mountain Bottleworks in Morganton, NC, the owners Kory and Collin Suttles agreed to donate $1 of every pint sale during one day of business. Calling the event Pints for Peoples, many MHA members attended and were available to meet and represent the organization.

By December, members had become aware of Ronno’s battle, as well as his imminent passing. A quick vote secured the scholarship in honor of his humanitarian efforts and humanist spirit.

The amount of money raised will determine how many scholarships are awarded in a given year, with the first scholarships being awarded in the 2018-19 school year. The amount is set tentatively at $500 apiece so if $1,000 is raised, then two scholarships will be awarded. That money will go directly to Western Piedmont in the name of students awarded.

A committee comprised of five volunteers from members of the MHA will award scholarships after reviewing applications. The committee will award scholarships based on financial need, employment status, academic performance, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, reference letters, and an essay addressing how humanism relates to the applicants future goals.

A second Pints for Peoples fundraiser is to be held February 13th at Brown Mountain Bottleworks from 2pm-10pm.

Read more in the Morganton News Herald here:

Donate to the MHA Ronno Cooke Memorial Scholarship