Let Us Introduce You: Perry Cole

Students of all kinds are drawn to Saint Louis University for its commitment to service, and senior Perry Cole is one of them. Majoring in political science and theology, Cole said she aspires to be a nurse and has plans to live in Latin America after graduation to work with the community there.

Though ready to get started, Cole said she has mixed feelings about leaving campus after four years of consistent service at the University.

“I have loved SLU so much so I’ll be sad to go, but I’m excited for the next step in life,” Cole said.

During her time at SLU, Cole has been a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, Campus Ministry, SLU Students for Life and Billikens After Dark. This year, Cole received the Mev Puelo Scholarship in Latin American Theology and Culture, which gives theology students the opportunity undergo a combination of traditional study as well as cultural immersion in order to achieve a better understanding the culture, religion and people of Latin America. As part of this program, Cole lived in Nicaragua, Central America for two months over the past summer, where she said she was challenged to integrate with the locals.

“My host brother in Nicaragua was a dance instructor,” Cole said, “I’m not a dancer at all, but he taught us a dance, a Nicaraguan folk lore dance, and we performed it in front of all the families, and it was a big deal, and we were all wearing big long dresses with make up on and stuff, so that was funny.

Cole said that the majority of her college experience was made by APO. A member of the fraternity for four years, she spent three of those years on the fraternity’s executive board, and was elected this year as chapter president. In addition to leadership abilities, Cole said that the fraternity has given her many opportunities for meeting people, and many of her friends are from APO.

“I think the most important thing to me is I’ve been able to surround myself with people that have similar interests to me,” Cole said. “So, in everything we do that’s fun, we also all are passionate and have an interest in serving the greater community.”

Off campus, Cole works with service groups such as L’Arche St. Louis, a national organization devoted to creating communities for mentally disabled adults. Cole said she planned and created Halloween and Valentine’s Day parties for L’Arche.

Cole has also been an active member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, an organization in which adults provide mentorship and companionship to children facing adversity. Cole has been a Big Sister to a sixth-grade girl named Chelsea, and said that they hang out regularly.

Cole said that the program offers her an opportunity to be a mentor and a friend to Chelsea, as well as a  source of stable support in her life.

”She is one in mine too,” Cole said.

At the end of her undergraduate years, Cole said she feels that she has lived up to SLU’s mission of “building a full person.” Cole said that her SLU education has actually prepared her to critically think about the ways things are in our society.

“The thing I’ve learned about doing service is a lot of times it’s not about what I built or what I’ve changed, it’s just about the people I’ve met and how we’ve mutually impacted each others lives,” Cole said. “I think I do what I do because I really enjoy being with people and being with a diverse group of people.”


Note: The University News misidentified Nicaragua as a South American country. The article has been updated to reflect its location in Central America. We regret this error.