Continuing academic excellence

Russell Cooks Jr.

Russell Cooks, Jr.


“Our students compete at high levels in athletics, academics, and the performing arts; however, our goal is for continuous improvement in every category,” said Dr. Robert Hunter, principal at Sandy Creek High School.  “We want to thoroughly prepare our students for post-secondary education, but also afford them the opportunity to excel in the extracurricular activities that they are truly passionate about.”

Russell Cooks, Jr. is a perfect example of the quality of students that Dr. Hunter was talking about. Cooks, a freshman engineering student at the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering has excelled inside as well as outside the classroom.

Approximately two months ago, Russell was hired by the university as an assistant calculus teacher. He was able to take the math skills that he mastered at the Sandy Creek Math Lab to Florida A&M.

“The math lab is great because you get to teach the students around you and you get to refresh some of your math skills,” said Cooks. “It allows you to stay sharp. The most gratifying thing is when students who you have helped come back and show you how well they did in the class. The students winning in the classroom and you helping them to build their confidence in math is an awesome feeling.”

Cooks has been selected as 2017 scholar for the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute, a professional development program designed to expose minority scholars with exceptional leadership potential to today’s challenging healthcare landscape and to encourage the scholars’ interest in healthcare leadership.

The institute operates on  a two-phase format.

Phase 1 leverages the the dynamic business, cultural, and healthcare community of Kansas City with the national reputation of its founder and president, John W. Bluford, III, to expose the participating scholars to experiences and mentors unique to the institute.

Phase 2 provides the scholars the opportunity to complete an internship in a notable healthcare organization. Participation in the BHLI enhances the scholars’ knowledge, understanding, and practice of the key leadership traits increasingly required of leaders  in the 21st-century healthcare environment.

Cooks will have a very busy summer, spending the first two weeks of June in Kansas City at the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute, then going to the Los Angeles area for an internship with Northrop Grumman Corporation.

“Russell is the type of student that not only going to excel,” said Dr. Charmane Caldwell, director of diversity and inclusion at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

“He is going to make sure all those all around him succeed and he takes advantage of all opportunities of the Engineering Concepts Institute Program.”