CAHNRS Faculty Feature: Robby Cooper

We asked several CAHNRS Ambassadors, excellent students who love WSU and their college, to name their favorite or most influential professors. And now we’re featuring those nominated educators in this weekly series, which runs through the summer.

Cooper and over a dozen students smile at the camera in an outdoor setting
Robby Cooper (bottom left) and students

Today we’re showcasing Robby Cooper, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Human Development. Here are his answers to a few questions:

Where are you from?

I grew up in Cameron, Missouri, a small farm town in northwestern Missouri. After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I spent 7 years living in Central Pennsylvania, which remains one of my favorite places.

Where did you go to school?

I earned a Bachelor of Sciences from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. It’s a smaller state school (about the size of University of Idaho). I also earned an M.S. and Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University.

How did you become interested in your field?

I found my interest in Human Development through classes in Therapeutic Recreation that I took as an undergraduate student. I had an inspiring professor named Ed Leoni who showed us the incredible impact of meaningful experiences.

Why did you want to become a professor?

I wanted to help students grow the same way that Ed Leoni helped me grow as a college student. I also love the interactive and creative nature of teaching. I’ve always enjoyed figuring things out and helping others, so it’s a natural field for me.

What is your favorite thing about working with college students?

I like seeing students grow intellectually and personally. The most important growth, in my opinion, for a student is developing critical thinking skills. No matter what your academic or professional field might be, you will need to be able to think critically and problem solve to thrive personally, academically, and professionally.

What advice would you pass along to students?

Be flexible. When you find your thought process to be rigid or narrow, ask yourself, “What if it weren’t that way?” or “What if it was a little less that way?” Question everything, including yourself.