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Meet Elizabeth Cook ’20: Thayer Fellowship Winner

The Acting major shares this year’s Thayer Fellowship award given by SUNY.

Each year, SUNY recognizes pending graduates who show great potential in the arts with the Thayer Fellowship. Two Purchase students, Elizabeth Cook (acting) and Rakeem Hardy (dance), were chosen as winners this year.

Elizabeth Cook answered some questions about winning the award and more.

Q: “The Thayer Fellowship selection is based on talent, achievement, and potential as a professional artist.” So how does it feel to have been selected for this award?

A: I am honestly still in shock. I feel so blessed to have been selected as a Thayer winner. It is an honor to be able to show my full self as an artist and see other wonderful artists recognized as well.

Q: What lesson or experience have you had here that you imagine will have the most lasting impact?

A: The lesson that I believe will have the most lasting impact is the practice of mindfulness. Hand in hand practice of mindfulness with my craft, and in my everyday life, allows a freedom for me that I want to take with me always.

Q: What do you hope to do after graduation?

A: After graduation, I hope to move to NYC and sign with an acting agency to begin my career. My plan may change given the current quarantine situation. I am also prepared to take this time given to focus on my craft and spiritual growth until things open back up.

Q: Who inspires you? What’s your dream role?

A: I genuinely have to say my mother inspires me every single day and has had such an influence on who I am today. My close friends are also a HUGE inspiration; it’s a blessing to be part of a group of women that uplift and encourage each other to fly. A dream role is Lady Anne from Richard III; she is someone who really stands in her will power.

Q: What do you think you’ll miss most about Purchase (pre-coronavirus, or course)?

A: I think what I will miss most about Purchase is the safe space I was given to completely unleash in the Conservatory. Coming out I am confident that I can now make any space a safe space for me to do what I love.

About the SUNY Awards

The Thayer Fellowship and the Patricia Kerr Ross Award are monetary awards given each year to outstanding candidates for graduation from The State University of New York, funded through endowments established in honor of Jeanne C. Thayer, Trustee of SUNY from 1974-1984, and Patricia Kerr Ross, former Artistic Director of the Thayer Fellowship. The Ross Award is administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts. The purpose of these awards is to serve as a bridge between study at The State University of New York and first-time entry into a professional career in the creative or performing arts: namely music, theatre, dance, film and video, creative writing, and the visual arts.

The Thayer Fellowship selection is based on talent, achievement, and potential as a professional artist. The Ross Award is given annually to an individual or divided among two exceptional applicants. The basis for this award is excellence, originality, and promise. The awards are available to seniors and graduate students in the arts who are about to graduate from the University and make a career in the arts. They are not intended for students going on to graduate school.