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Meredith Jorgensen Cooke
"I have this very public persona, I guess. But people really respond well to the real me. That is so affirming,” says the genuinely effervescent Meredith Jorgensen Cooke. Her story is one that resounds with many because of her positive, fun-loving humor and true zest for life. No matter the situation, the 5’10” blonde haired, blue-eyed reporter turned entrepreneur believes in the mantra: Just keep moving forward.
Her mother taught her that. And it served Meredith well, especially as she fought a very public battle with cancer. Meredith and her family grew up on Long Island, New York, and she admits her desire to be a reporter started in the seventh grade. Knowing what she wanted to do made life easy. Her path and purpose were clear, and she graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in broadcast journalism. After a stint with Blue Ridge Cable, she landed a job in July of 2003 at WGAL News 8 as a Lancaster County reporter.
“WGAL definitely informs a lot about who I am. I’ve been there thirteen years. That’s longer than I’ve done anything. To have such a significant swath of time be with this one group of people, this one building, at this one iconic institution in the Susquehanna Valley is a real pride for me,” she says. “I also don’t want it to be the only thing I do.”
In her free time, Meredith and her husband Chris love to travel. The two recently visited Japan. While there, she experienced what she calls a “gold coin” moment—a valuable and memorable life experience she has discovered and will keep in her memory bank. She was sitting in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto when she had a moment of clarity. “I’m learning about Zen Buddhism, even though I’m a devout Catholic, and the tenants are applicable in my life,” she reflects. She often tries to think more about if the things she says are true, necessary, and kind. Meredith hopes to continue her world travels and see the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and the Amazon. “I just want to do everything. I feel like God gives you one life and I’m going to do all of it. Really, what I want to do is I want to have fun and I want to be happy and I want to laugh and I don’t that’s a very foreign thing. I think that’s a universal thing,” she says.
Her desire to live purposefully and explore the people and places around her led Meredith to take the best parts of what she has been doing as a reporter and spin them into a new, very exciting idea. In October of 2015, Meredith and her longtime friend and videographer, Joe Mitton, launched their new business venture called Life & Legacies. The visual storytelling concept is not only powerful, but also timely. What’s true of culture is true of individuals: our experience of the world is formed by our interpretations of it. Perhaps the key to personal transformation is story transformation.
Life & Legacies gives individuals a chance to author their own stories. Whether surviving sickness, circumstance, or simply sharing a lifetime for future generations, Life & Legacies offers more that just a video: it provides freedom for people to feel empowered. “I want to help people realize that sharing and opening up is a gift you can give to others,” she says. “I think it’s a privilege as a writer and a journalist to be able to tell other people’s stories.”
Meredith knows that one thing, one moment, one choice, doesn’t have to define who you are for the rest of your life. She has not only overcome difficult things, but has thrived in spite of them—in no small part due to her fun-loving nature and her insistence to keep moving forward. “God has given us this amazing life and this amazing planet, amazing people, amazing food, and amazing stories. And I just want to gather them all up—and I’m running out of time already,” she exclaims.
What will you do, or what have you done, with this one great, beautiful life?
Your Friday night looks like?
I sit on the couch in my pajamas with my dogs and my husband watching "How it’s Made" with a glass of white wine.
[blank] will save the world:
Dogs. It should definitely be dogs.
Tip to women everywhere:
Buy one pair of really expensive, very tall, high heels. They might kill your feet but the rest of you will feel amazing.
Any favorite books?
"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" by Chelsea Handler
What do you love most about your husband?
Cuddling with him
Worst homemaking skill?
Cooking—despite being named Cooke.
All of them. I’ll celebrate anything. Arbor Day Party, anyone?