Alumni Spotlight - November 2021
Allison Cook '16
Allison Cook was born in Redwood City, CA and spent most of her upbringing just outside of Sacramento, CA. Allison attended Granite Bay High School and graduated at 17 years old. During high school, Allison primarily played basketball until a few concussions motivated her to switch to volleyball during her senior year. This 6’1” athlete also loved participating in student government and on the student broadcasting team.
After her third concussion in high school and spending so much time in hospitals and around diagnostic medicine, Allison narrowed her search for colleges by seeking those that offered programs in medical imaging. Oregon Tech’s volleyball coach recruited Allison to play and since its medical technology programs were top notch on the west coast, Allison enrolled. She played volleyball for the first two years at Oregon Tech, but suffered two more traumatic brain injuries during that time, which brought her athletic career to a halt.
Oregon Tech’s Tech Opportunities Program (TOP) was a wonderful resource for Allison. Early in childhood, she was diagnosed with a hearing disability, she was able to benefit from TOP by getting notes provided to her and other resources to support her with schoolwork. She was also a member of the second group of the newly established Honors Program at the university and was the first president of the Hoot Club, which was specifically for Honors students. In addition, Allison was in the pre-MIT program, worked in housing and organized the Mr. OIT pageant. To say she kept busy is an understatement! As Allison explains, “Any chance I get to go back (to Oregon Tech), it feels like I’m going home.”
During her freshman year at Oregon Tech, Allison attended a scholarship and career fair, seeking ways to supplement her college expenses. At the fair was a booth hosted by the Miss Klamath County organization, affiliated with the Miss America pageant. The potential prize money that could be used toward college tuition was attractive, but even more so was the opportunity to be involved in the local community, work on public speaking skills and develop a strong support system. During her first competition, Allison won the Miss City of Sunshine title. That title came with nearly $11,000 in scholarship money that Allison was able to use for her studies at Oregon Tech. That win gave Allison the confidence to further invest in herself and in the community around her. Next she was crowned Miss Southern Gem, representing Southern Oregon for the Miss America organization. Later in 2013, she competed again and was crowned Miss Oregon. The Miss America programs focus more on the scholastic opportunities for young women and include a talent competition, for which Allison played the violin. Allison has only wonderful things to say about her experience with the organization.
Allison graduated with her baccalaureate degree in Radiologic Sciences cum laude with minors in Business and Medical Sociology. Her externship during her final year was with Legacy Emanuel in Portland, OR and she was hired prior to even graduating to work as a full-time x-ray technologist. Allison explains, “That is an indicator of how well OIT prepared me.”
After taking a break from pageantry to focus on her academics and her new career, Allison decided to compete again, this time for the Miss USA organization. The Miss USA organization differs from Miss America in that Miss USA provides opportunities to be a spokesmodel, brand yourself and places value on physical fitness. In 2021, Allison was crowned Miss Oregon USA. This is the first time a woman has won both Miss Oregon (with the Miss America organization) and Miss Oregon USA (with the Miss USA organization). The Miss USA competition will be held on November 29, 2021 in Tulsa, OK and will be nationally televised on the FYI network. The competition is comprised of preliminary rounds which include interviews, physical fitness in swimwear, and an evening gown portion leading up to the final competition on November 29th. Serving as Miss USA is a full-time, paid position for a year and is based in Los Angeles. If Allison wins the Miss USA title, she will then compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
Allison’s career has evolved from the trauma center of a hospital working directly with patients, to her current role which enables her to work directly with medical providers. She is currently celebrating three years as a Clinical Imaging Specialist with GE Healthcare where she travels around the country, covering 13 states, teaching radiologic technologists how to use surgical x-ray equipment; more commonly known as “C-arms,” portable real-time machines that surgeons use in the operating room. She explains, “Without proper x-rays, a patient can’t get the treatment they need and deserve.”
Allison takes time to give back to Oregon Tech by visiting the Radiologic Sciences classes and inspiring students with her knowledge and experiences. In addition to her continued work in healthcare and her passion for the pageantry world, Allison plans on further developing her own business that focuses on consulting, marketing and advertising. Her advice for college students is simple: “You are going to have the opportunity to make lots of choices, even something as simple as the choice to stay in your dorm room or the choice to be vulnerable and go to the gym for a night. I want to encourage people to make those tough choices sometimes, the ones that make you feel uncomfortable, the ones that make you step outside the box…this is the time to give different opportunities a try in a more controlled environment. If there’s ever been something that piqued your interest, or something you’re passionate about, or something that excites you, college is the time to explore opportunities, form your opinions and really grow as a person.”
We are so proud of everything that Allison has accomplished in her career and as a confident and inspirational young woman. Her work to educate people about traumatic brain injuries, experience as a collegiate athlete and referee and her passion for academics makes her a model alumna. Follow along with Allison’s journey on social media @allisonecook and learn more on her website at: https://allisoncook.com/. Don’t forget to cheer her on during the Miss USA pageant on Monday, November 29, 2021, live on the FYI network.
~Becky Burkeen, Alumni Relations Manager