By Brett A. Mejia ’13 & Jackson Santy ’13
Each year, among the group of graduating seniors from the Brophy student body there are always those who have left their mark on the community.
The Roundup’s Man of the Year award is given to one senior who has indeed proven that he embodies the key qualities of a man for others and has left his own mark on the school.
It is because of his positive impact on Brophy that The Roundup selected Stephen Cooper ’12 as this year’s Man of the Year.
Cooper’s senior year has been nothing short of eventful. Cooper went from spending extensive time in the hospital with two collapsed lungs to conducting the Brophy Orchestra in the most recent band concert.
“Steve is one of my top leaders in the band program,” said Band Director Ms. Julie Thibodeaux. “He is the lead trumpet player in the Wind Ensemble and is one of our student conductors.”
Cooper said he lives his life day by day by being an honest and straightforward guy.
“We all have our different attributes and background cultures, but in the end we’re all trying our best to be the best men we can be,” Cooper added of his classmates.
Cooper’s road to graduation started in the spring of 2008 when he began the application process for Brophy.
“The transfer to Brophy was pretty crazy for me,” Cooper said. “My parents actually initially recommended that I apply at Brophy and it wasn’t my idea and I wasn’t very adamant about it.”
Cooper said his reluctance all but vanished after he first stepped on the campus to shadow.
Soon enough, Cooper received his acceptance letter.
“My first day at Brophy was pretty traumatic,” Cooper said. “It’s such a big school; these big steeples and these big buildings, a cross and there is just so much going on that it’s intimidating. It’s a different environment and so at first I was really close to the experience.” Cooper said.
On his path to becoming a man for others, Cooper has been seen as a person with a gigantic heart and determination, especially by Brophy Assistant to the Assistant Principal for Ministry Mrs. Sue Hornbeck.
“Stephen is someone that you can count on,” Mrs. Hornbeck said. “He is sensitive to the feelings of others and their feelings always come before his.”
“He’ll make anyone around him feel like the most important person in the world,” Mrs. Hornbeck said.
Throughout his time at Brophy, Cooper has been involved in band and orchestra, campus ministry, Big Brothers and track.
“He to me is the perfect servant leader,” Mrs. Hornbeck said. “He works with his fellow band members in order to become better, he helps them come along and walk the path.”
Shortly after being admitted to the hospital earlier this year for collapsed lungs, one of the first calls Cooper received was from Mrs. Hornbeck.
“When she called me, she reminded me of the story of the tortoise and the hare,” Cooper said.
“After his lungs collapsed, we all knew when he came back, that he was going to charge right out of the gates being the man that he is,” Mrs. Hornbeck said. “He hopped on that horse and he rushed back in to get back to school, get those grades up and get back on top of things.”
Ever since that call, Mrs. Hornbeck gave Cooper the nickname “turtle” and it’s stuck ever since.
“Saint Ignatius said that deeds are greater than words and as we all have seen Stephen works hard on this campus, whether it’s through the music department, or leading Kairos or through the OFJ, his deeds speak for him,” Mrs. Hornbeck said.
“He is incredibly inquisitive and very scientific-minded,” said Cooper’s English teacher Ms. Lauren Karp.
“I definitely know that his mind works like a scientist,” Ms. Karp said. “If he doesn’t understand something, he wants to understand it and while other students will often share their opinions or ask questions for clarity.”
Cooper also has a funny side to him, as described by friend and carpool companion, Nick Wren ’12.
“Steve has a very highly matured sense of humor that can only be appreciated by the quick and witty,” Wren said. “Steve acts twice his age, except for the car rides home with me when we share extreme guy time, so we can rant and vent after a long day. Not only is he a gentleman, but he is so talented as well, and it is really rare to be able to find a person with both of these characteristics.”
Cooper said he plans on continuing his Jesuit education next year by studying Pre-Med at Marquette University.