During its 217th commencement, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary honored Paula Cooper ’10/’13 with The Calian Prize for Campus Community Service.
This award is given to an exemplary member of the Pittsburgh Seminary community, who demonstrates excellence in carrying out responsibilities and volunteer assignments and also expresses a caring spirit of good will and hope essential in life together as a community. The award is in recognition that all members of the community are an important part of the success of the Seminary.
“Paula Cooper epitomizes the Calian Award, started by my predecessor, Dr. Carnegie Samuel Calian, when he retired a little more than seven years ago,” said the Rev. Dr. William J. Carl III, president and professor of homiletics at PTS. “Paula has overcome insurmountable odds to finish two degrees at Pittsburgh Seminary—a master of divinity with a graduate certificate in urban ministry and a master of sacred theology. In addition, she has been the face of PTS welcoming strangers who have come on campus at all hours of the night to check into guest housing. She has demonstrated true biblical hospitality for our visitors with a charming personality and a winning smile. She’s also a good preacher! We are excited to award Paula with the Calian this year, an award she certainly deserves.”
Cooper, a native of Philadelphia, came to Pittsburgh in 2006 as a seminary student. Since then, she has become engrained in the life of PTS and the city. On campus, Cooper has worked as the evening and weekend guest host welcoming visitors to campus. She has served in the Metro-Urban Institute Office as a congregational convener bringing local churches to campus to learn more about health-related and urban issues. Cooper has willingly participated in the Alumnae/i Phonathon and other on campus events serving in whatever needed capacity. In various student leadership positions she has ensured that all members, particularly international students, feel part of the community. Through the World Mission Initiative and Metro-Urban Institute at PTS, Cooper has traveled to Israel, Zambia, New Orleans, Trinidad and Tobago, and Egypt on mission trips.
In the city, Cooper has volunteered with the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force educating people about the disease. She has also worked with Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network to raise funds in support of social justice issues. Additionally, Cooper has worked with Valley View Presbyterian Church as a seminary student, Children’s Hospital as a student chaplain, Allegheny Open Arms United Church of Christ as a preacher, and the Community of Reconciliation as an intern.
“From the time I arrived, it’s been all about community for me,” said Cooper. Now that she has finished her second degree, Cooper hopes to begin her full-time ministry working with the broken hearted.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is a graduate professional institution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Founded in 1794, the Seminary is located in Pittsburgh, Pa., and more than 300 students are enrolled yearly in the degree programs. The Seminary prepares leaders who proclaim with great joy God’s message of good news in both word and deed. PTS is rooted in the Reformed history of faithfulness to Scripture and commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.