The Beacon Today
Women on the Move September 2020 Edition
Women on the Move is a series that amplifies women to talk about their success stories. Every month, an individual or group of women share an empowered voice for those who have places to go and goals to accomplish.
Our Woman on the Move for the September 2020 Edition is Miss Miami Mariluz Cook. She's also the director of broadcast and digital media for NCAA Division 1 Member, Big Sky Conference.
Cook, 23, a native South Floridian, represents a predominantly Latin community. As a Cuban-American woman, she feels that she has a very special opportunity to use her voice.
Beyond the crown, title and Zoom screen is an empowered woman who knows the importance of being a mental health advocate.
“The thing that I think we can all take from 2020 is that many of us have experienced emotions and feelings that we’ve never felt before,” Cook said. “Opening up conversations is so important and checking in on ourselves and those around us.”
Cook graduated in May 2019 with a dual Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Criminal Justice from Florida Atlantic University. She embarked on her post-college journey as a director of broadcast and digital media for Big Sky Conference full-time while competing for Miss Miami remotely. This year marks Cook’s fifth year in the Miss America Organization. She’s competed for six titles before winning her first one.
“When you talk about that transition from graduation to finding a job, I feel like it’s not something that’s commonly discussed how hard it can be mentally,” Cook said.
Cook recalls the times when people doubted her abilities as a female. She didn't let failure or other people’s opinions get in her way.
“When I was younger and a student reporter [as] a woman in sports, there were a lot of times where my knowledge was questioned,” Cook said.
If she could go back and speak to her 17-year-old self, a girl who grew up watching pageants and dreamt of winning Miss America, Cook says she would remind herself that there’s no replacement for hard work.
“A lot of learning about myself, refining myself to figure out what it was I needed to be and become a better version of myself,” Cook said.
After a long process of Zoom waiting rooms, virtual piano recitals and interviews, Cook says how special it was to have her parents with her the moment she became Miss Miami in her family’s living room.
For Cook, being a Woman on the Move is about being well-rounded.
“It’s about taking care of yourself and those around you. Handling business, making sure you’re working, getting things done. You’re doing what you’re passionate about, what lights your soul on fire,” Cook said. “For me, that looks like my career, pursuing that and sports broadcasting, doing work as Miss Miami, spreading awareness about depression, opening up mental health conversations and checking in with myself along the way.”
Jessie Dez and Heather Chiles