Roberta Cooper Tomlinson
Walking across campus to cheer for the Braves in Robertson Memorial Field House. Conducting research on chemotherapy drugs with Dr. Alan Galsky. Eating at the original Avanti's on Main Street. Making late-night runs to Dunkin' Donuts. Meeting someone who would become a lifelong friend at freshman orientation.
These are just a few of the memories Roberta Cooper Tomlinson '80 recalls when asked about her Bradley days. Tomlinson continues to be connected with Bradley, particularly as a diehard fan of men's and women's basketball games. She started attending Bradley games with her parents as a child and vividly remembers seeing Bradley legends Roger Phegley '78 and Bobby Humbles '78 play when she was a BU student.
When it was time to choose a college, Bradley was an easy choice for Tomlinson. "My dad [Robert Cooper '50] is an alum, Bradley is close to home, and I knew it was a good university," says Tomlinson, who grew up about 60 miles southwest of Peoria in Astoria. "Being from a smaller high school, I did not like the idea of going to a large state school. At a smaller school, students have more opportunities to be involved."
Tomlinson remembers freshman orientation, when she met Kathy Anderson Hussong '80, who remains her best friend. They roomed together their junior and senior years in Williams Hall.
"College brings lots of opportunities, personally and professionally," says Tomlinson, who remembers singing in the Bradley Community Chorus and completing an internship at Methodist Medical Center.
A biology major, she has worked at Graham Hospital in Canton since June 1981 and now is a blood bank supervisor. "My job still challenges me. I can always learn and also feel like I'm helping someone."
That desire to help extends back to her alma mater. Because she wants to help other students grow and learn through a Bradley experience, Tomlinson has included the University in her will. "I look at it as an opportunity to further someone's education and help him or her fulfill a dream at a quality university."
"It's so hard for kids, even with grants and scholarships, to pay for school. We [she and her late husband Dave] didn't have kids, so I want to give someone else's child the opportunity to get a quality education."
Tomlinson is a men's basketball season ticket holder and attends both men's and women's basketball games with her mother, JoAnn Cooper. She is impressed with the new Renaissance Coliseum, as well as the Markin Family Student Recreation Center and other new construction on campus. In addition, she appreciates the flowers that beautify campus.
The physical campus has grown and improved over the years, while the close mentoring between faculty and students remains strong. "I received a great education at Bradley, and it is still a wonderful university," Tomlinson says.