Cooks Start at JWCC with a Successful End in Mind
Raising $600 million in capital and rehabilitating a pitching arm
might seem like tall tasks, but it’s all in a day’s work for JWCC alumni
Patrick ‘02 and Dr. Brooke (Fessler) Cook ‘02.
Patrick is the director of capital markets and corporate finance for
Sun Edison, the second largest solar developer in the world. Brooke
is an outpatient orthopedic physical therapist with SSM Physical
Therapy in St. Louis.
Fittingly, the two former Trail Blazer basketball players met in
statistics class, the launching pad for their successful careers in the
financial and medical arenas.
“My business classes definitely laid the foundation for senior level
work at Bradley University,” Patrick said. “John Wood professors
put the correct amount of emphasis, structure and rigor into the
classroom and our assignments. The expectations JWCC had for me
were the same as the professors at Bradley, which made the transfer
process that much easier.”
During his two years at Bradley, Patrick interned with Merrill
Lynch to help families set up 529 plans to finance their children’s
“I told them that as expensive as education is, the community
college option makes a lot of sense,” Patrick shared. “It makes
financial sense, and education wise, you get a foundation that
prepares you for any top tier university. I think of it as subsidizing
a four-year degree.”
After graduating with a quantitative methods degree from Bradley,
Patrick worked for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in Chicago,
becoming vice president for structured finance, where he managed
a $5 billion portfolio.
Most recently, he and his wife, Brooke, moved to St. Louis.
Patrick raises corporate capital to finance solar and renewable
energy projects around the world and crosses the globe from
South Africa to Spain. A recent project he helped finance provided
solar-generated electricity for Meerwada, India, a village where Sun
Edison built a center to provide a safe environment for after-school
studies, meal preparation and family gatherings.
Brooke produces a different, but equally valuable, energy for
her patients at SSM Physical Therapy. She specializes in treating
overhead athletes, such as pitchers, quarterbacks and volleyball
players. If a pitcher in the St. Louis area needs to bring back the
electricity into his or her arm, Brooke is called into action. She
rehabilitates the arms of all athletes, from major league closers and
college quarterbacks to high school hurlers and little league aces.
Also a transfer from JWCC to Bradley, Brooke earned a degree in
health science and recently completed her doctorate in physical
therapy, graduating near the top of her class.
“I was the kid in high school who opted out of home economics
so I could take additional sciences classes,” she said. “When I came
to John Wood and had my first really hands-on lab experience in
microbiology, my interest in science piqued. Coming from a town
with a great sports tradition and playing basketball at JWCC, ideas
about my future career began to take shape.”
Brooke credits the advisors, coaches and opportunities at John
Wood for helping find her calling. “The career assessment activities
I did pointed to athletic training and physical therapy,” she recalls.
“I remember thinking, ‘I can change lives being a physical therapist,
help people function better, okay, this is what I want to do.’”
After college, Brooke helped hundreds of patients as a physical
therapist with Athletico in Chicago, including retired professional
athletes from the Chicago Cubs, Blackhawks, White Sox, Bulls and
Whether it is brokering multi-million dollar deals or retooling
pitching arms, the Cooks always begin their work with a successful
end in mind. The same was true when they chose to start their
education at John Wood Community College.