Blakeley Cooper: “You can never lose hope”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Art Carey: Credit to Mom, mentors:

…The fire that incinerated the North Philadelphia rowhouse had begun in the basement, probably ignited by someone cooking crack. The house was inhabited at the time by Blakeley’s father, a man who had climbed high and fallen fast.

“My mother was very blunt,” Cooper remembers. “She said, ‘This is what drugs will do to you. You want to throw your life away? This is the end result.’ “

Cooper, then 5, was so impressed he made a vow: “I will be better than my father.”

In the years that followed, it became his mantra, especially in times of stress and discouragement. “It became the sole motivating force in all I did,” Cooper says.

Today, Cooper, 30, is a senior information technology engineer at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Frazer, Chester County. His job is to devise code that enables computer systems to talk to each other. In night school at Wharton, he’s taking business courses and he plans to pursue an MBA.

But it could all have turned out so differently.

“I grew up on the same streets where murders have occurred,” he says. “But I was able to steer clear of that because I had people who had my best interests at heart and were willing to show me another way.”

How Cooper traveled from where he came from to where he is now is a testament to his innate drive and motivation, to that amalgam of traits and values we call “character.” But, as Cooper readily admits, he benefited also from family – in his case, a determined and dedicated single mother, and a civic-minded elderly couple who mentored and supported him.

A powerful story.

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