Decatur Senior Receives Rene Patterson Scholarship

“Even getting $1,000 is great for me, cause it means that someone recognizes my individuality.” Cook said.

Briana Cook

“Even getting $1,000 is great for me, cause it means that someone recognizes my individuality.” Cook said.

During December, senior Briana Cook received a $1,000 check from Outkast member Big Boi. She won the statewide Rene Patterson Scholarship.

“Even getting $1,000 is great for me, cause it means that someone recognizes my individuality.” Cook said.

Big Boi’s nonprofit, The Big Kidz Foundation, celebrated the holidays by giving back to the local Atlanta community and awarding Cook the scholarship check. Big Kidz held a scavenger hunt at Lenox Square Mall for 40 area wide students where the winner was given an XBox party.

Out of the 925 students enrolled at Decatur, 191 are current seniors. 76 are eligible for the Hope Scholarship, but only Briana Cook has been awarded the Rene Patterson Scholarship.

Cook had no idea she was going to win, or even that she had been nominated for the scholarship.

“The first I heard about it was actually on Twitter. I was so shocked, but it was awesome,” she said.

“Lily Spencer was the one who actually told me I won the scholarship. She retweeted what the Big Kidz Foundation said.” Cook said.
“Lily Spencer was the one who actually told me I won the scholarship. She retweeted what the Big Kidz Foundation said.” Cook said.

The scholarship is awarded to students who are dedicated to the performing arts and show leadership among peers, but who also give back to their community through the arts.

For Briana, her passion for the arts is shown through dance. She has been going to the same dance studio, I Am Movement, since the fall of fifth grade even though the studio didn’t technically open until her sixth grade year. Over the years, teachers and fellow dancers moved on and even the studio’s owners changed, but Cook continued to dance. Now her mother is the owner, and Cook teaches dance to the younger crowd.

“I love my job. I get to help these kids find their love for dance, and then we get to love it together. Trust me, if I didn’t like what I did, this job would be hell.”

One of Cook’s student’s mothers, Jennifer Lester, is the Executive Director of the Big Kidz Foundation and received Cook’s secret nomination. The connection was a pure coincidence.

“I went to the studio to learn more about Briana and understood why she was nominated. She exhibited the qualities we were looking for perfectly. She is very dedicated, a great role model to the younger dancers, and is an exceptional volunteer,” Lester said.

Cook plans on using the money at either Valdosta State, Paine College or Augusta State. She plans on majoring in sports medicine so she can pursue a career as a physical therapist for dancers.

“I know I won’t always be able to dance, but I can always be involved in the dancing community.” said Cook.