By Sarah Hill
All of my friends are so jealous that I went on that trip!” jokes Mark Cook (’84) about his University of Houston Alumni Association trip to Scotland. That being said, it’s a relief that he made many new friends while visiting the gorgeous locale! “New friends are the best souvenir from the trip,” he acknowledges.
“I think UH alumni and supporters are friendly, unpretentious people who are easy to like,” agrees his wife, Judy (J.D. ’89). The golfing trip boasted the best venues and accommodations Scotland had to offer. “I am an avid golfer, though a horrible one,” laughs Mark. He had never been to Scotland but had always wanted to visit. According to Judy, who doesn’t golf, his excitement was contagious: “He was so eager to see the country and play the golf courses that I wanted to be there, too!”
“Judy and I hiked down the cliffs in St. Andrews, walked along the beach and took some great photos. The group meals where we were all together and talked about our days were so much fun,” remembers Mark. And the weather? “It was cool, even cold, and windy. It was a great change from the heat in Houston!”
Judy recalls what struck her the most about visiting the country for the first time: “It reminded me how young our country is, because so many of the structures, buildings and roads in Scotland are ancient.”
After having visited what Mark fondly calls a “magical” place, the Cooks were ready to sign up for another UHAA-sponsored trip — this time to Cabo San Lucas. “I knew the trip would be well-planned and fun,” he says. “The trip to Cabo was our first time there. The hotel was first class with great restaurants, bars and large rooms. The course where the golf team played was incredible — so green and beautiful.” Judy’s favorite highlights of the trip were group outings to dinner and whale watching while she echoes her husband in saying the location was “stunning.”
What is next for the Cooks? They continue to give charitably to the University of Houston through their family foundation — each of their three children plays a part in deciding where the support will be directed. “UH has been part of both of our educations, and we feel honored to give back to the institution that helped us. I’d like to encourage every alumnus to participate financially with the school — there is no better place to direct your charitable giving,” says Judy. She also has some advice for current students: “Involve yourself in campus life as much as you possibly can. Live on campus, join clubs, interact with your fellow students and professors and go to the games!”
Their excitement for UH is palpable, especially as they discuss the upcoming trip with UHAA to India. In November, the itinerary will include sites such as the vibrant city of Delhi, the River Ganges, as well as the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikr — all while learning about the intriguing Indian culture. “President Khator is so charismatic, with more enthusiasm and energy than I’ve ever seen in one person! I’d follow her anywhere — but especially to India, which she clearly loves and knows well,” says Judy. What is certain is that Mark and Judy Cook, world-travelers, are bringing their Cougar pride to destinations that differ greatly, but never disappoint.
To find out more about the Cougars on Tour Travel Program, visit: www.houstonalumni.com/travel.