Krystiane Cheetham Cooper graduated cum laude with a double major in music and religion from Mount Holyoke in 1992. She then went on to earn a master's degree in vocal performance at Washington University, followed by a master's in social work from New York University, but it was at Mount Holyoke where Krystiane felt that she truly found her voice.
What is the greatest lesson you learned at MHC? Women's voices have value!
You recently made a gift to Mount Holyoke. Can you tell us what inspired you to give? A few reasons—Reunion, the election, and my own daughter getting close to college age.
Mount Holyoke was one of the best decisions of my life. There, I found that I had a voice—a voice of my own—a voice of wisdom, curiosity, wit, compassion, and fire. Just as importantly, my voice was heard. My voice had value, weight, and nuance. My voice could change the world. My voice: big, grounded, cacophonous, melody and harmony. A composition of my own, blended in time with the voices of my Sisters. The gates of Mount Holyoke welcomed MY voice. Welcomed the voices of women from all over the world. Mount Holyoke gave voice to all of us, each one having the space to grow in volume, intensity, and duration. Thank you for giving voice to women's work, women's thoughts, women's dreams. Thank you, Mount Holyoke, for giving my voice a place to sing.
Was there a moment you knew your life was forever changed? The moment my roommate and I first bonded, during the first days of first-year Orientation.
What is your favorite spot on campus? Abbey Chapel, when it's empty; and the path next to Pratt, leading to the bridge over Lower Lake.
What are your top 5 favorite things about MHC?
1. The knowledge that I am connected to every alumna, especially my sisters from '90 to '95.
2. The gates.
3. The Goodnight Song.
4. Upper Lake.
5. Professors who lit a fire in my mind (Louise Litterick, Jim Carpenter, John Grayson, Lynn Morgan, Tim Johnson, and Melinda Spratlan).
Can you tell us a little more about yourself? I am a classical singer and licensed clinical social worker in the Philadelphia area. My life has been devoted to singing, and giving voice to children who have experienced trauma and loss, especially those in deeply impoverished urban areas. I maintain a play and cognitive therapy practice for children and families; provide clinical supervision at The Center for Autism; and serve as staff soprano at the Church of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia. I live with my husband of 22 years, Matt, and our three children: Katherine (16), Daniel (12), and Betsy (10) in Elkins Park, PA.
Members of the Philadelphia Singers and the Philadelphia Orchestra at the UN Summit on Climate Change in the fall of 2015. Krystiane is pictured towards the center, next to orchestra conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin.
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