Cooper Sophomore Takes On Prestigious Assignment

Interviews Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice
It’s not often that one is given the opportunity to speak one-on-one to a national figure who they consider a role model. Last summer, Kendall Cooper, now a sophomore at The John Cooper School, had the unique opportunity to do just that by serving as moderator for an online interview with Susan Rice, former National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Cooper was selected for the prestigious assignment after completing a Media and Politics Institute earlier this summer through Junior State of America (JSA).

The online JSA Live event took place on July 28 and opened the JSA Young Women’s Leadership intensive course. Following opening remarks, Cooper interviewed Rice for a 20-minute one-on-one interview, then moderated a Q&A session. 

She prepared for the role by taking moderator training, collaborating on the script and finalizing logistics for the interview with JSA staff and by reading Rice’s book, Tough Love, The Things Worth Fighting For. “I learned so much by reading about her experiences in government and foreign policy,” Cooper said.

“The whole event was amazing,” she continued. “Ambassador Rice is a warm and inspiring person. The most memorable thing about it was definitely the private conversation I had with her beforehand. We talked about her book and things we have in common, like our Jamaican heritage and love of writing. She is a big role model for me, and it was an honor to speak with her face-to-face.”

Cooper’s interest in politics was ignited as a sixth grader in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was running against Donald Trump for President of The United States. Her enthusiasm led her to become involved in Student Council and Model United Nations summer camps. 

Cooper plans to combine her love of writing, journalism and politics with an eye on analytical writing and comparative writing in her current studies. She will serve for the second consecutive year as Secretary for the Cooper JSA chapter. The club’s mission is to promote high standards of informed citizenship, improve understanding of political processes, develop responsibility in individual citizens and promote involvement in community affairs.

Peter Perretti, JSA Club faculty advisor and chair of the Social Sciences Department, said Cooper was a perfect fit for the role. “When I first heard about Kendall’s opportunity to interview Susan Rice I thought what a great choice for an interviewer,” he said. "Kendall is among the most informed students I worked with last year and is a perceptive thinker."