Cockerham Chooses Joy!

Judy Cockerham

Judy Cockerham often ends her emails with: “Choose Joy!” Anyone who spends time with her will likely feel joyful too.

Cockerham retired this fall after more than two decades as fine arts secretary, but this was only her latest Fresno Pacific adventure. She was also a student from 1966-68, part of the time while attending Fresno State, where she graduated in 1971 with a home economics degree. Sadly, the diploma did not provide a direction. “What I found I wanted to be was this,” she says of her present job. Cockerham enjoys clerical work, organization and the creativity she has shown in many a music poster and program.

Cockerham also got to create her position, and was even invited to do so. Seeing that student workers could no longer handle the load of a growing department, Larry Warkentin, D.M.A., long-time music department chair and now music faculty emeritus, called Cockerham. “I thought that was a lovely thing,” she said.

There has been much to love. “Working at a place where the product is music—I love music,” said Cockerham, who plays organ and piano part-time at Butler Church.

Also lovely is where she works. “I try every day to look around and see the beauty. It’s like a park,” she said. “I think I appreciate it now because when I came there weren’t many trees.”
And never last in her heart have been the people. Cockerham has served as listening ear, counselor, second opinion, unofficial aunt, room mother and more to generations of students and faculty, whose Sattler Hall offices her desk surveys. “I haven’t figured out what that label is—Mother Hen?” she asked.

Mother Hen is now looking forward to the little things. “I’m going to clean the house,” she said. “Just to have more time in each day and do those things that have been put off.” There will always be time for granddaughter Evelyn. She and husband Bill have two daughters: Allison is a nurse at Community Regional Medical Center and Amanda has begun an M.A. in communication at Fresno State and is teaching two sections of Oral Communication.

Perspectives as alumnus, employee and wife of a former faculty member and coach have strengthened Cockerham’s belief in the mission of FPU. “I see it as a nurturing environment,” she said. “A place where we give students a chance. One of my soapboxes is the second chance. People don’t get lost.”