This article is part of an on-going series interviewing Emmaus faculty members. Elisa Cooper has taught as the Chair of the Music Department since 2005. She studied at Wheaton College and Indiana University. Elisa participates actively in the Dubuque community by singing in the Dubuque Chorale (community chorus) and performing as a pianist with other musicians.
Emmaus Experience Staff: How long have you worked at Emmaus and in what roles?
Elisa Cooper: I’ve worked at Emmaus for fifteen years as Chair of the Music Department.
EE: Tell us a little about your education: where did you study? Who was your favorite professor? What was your favorite class or subject?
EC: I attended Wheaton College Conservatory. One of the professors who impacted me the most was Dr. Kastner who taught our Senior Music Capstone course. She really challenged us to think about issues that we might not have considered previously, and she also challenged us consider if we were putting our identity in our music or in God. Music History classes were probably the most fun classes I took as music major.
EE: What is your favorite class to teach at Emmaus? Why?
EC: My favorite course to teach is Choir/Ensemble. I enjoy working with a group of students (plus a few faculty and staff) who love the Lord and love to sing. Some of the students I have connected with the most are ones who have sung in choir. We also have an opportunity in those groups to impact the community with our concerts that are open to the public.
EE: Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Favorite passage? Favorite verse?
EC: There are too many to choose from (and it changes as time goes on)! Right now maybe John or Hebrews? Ephesians 1 is amazing. Isaiah 41:10 has been an important verse that keeps coming back to me.
EE: What books are you currently reading or have read recently just for fun? What are your favorite movies? Favorite television shows?
EC: In the Shadow of the King by Melissa Rosenberger. I prefer movies that are based on true stories or really good books. Woodlawn might be a favorite. I hardly watch television!
EE: What do you see as the strengths of an Emmaus Bible College education?
EC: Students have the opportunity to get to know their professors outside of the classroom (even in homes) and be mentored by faculty and staff members. As they walk through their time here, they have a tremendous opportunity to grow in their relationship with the Lord and learn important life lessons in addition to their academic studies.
EE: How did you come to faith in Christ?
EC: I was very young (about 5), so I don’t really know how it came about. My faith didn’t really become personal until college and graduate school when I was away from my family and had to consider what I believed and why. Graduate school was a key time of growth, because while I was attending a very secular university, I was part of a wonderful church community that really poured into their young people (including graduate students).
EE: What were the circumstances the Lord used to bring you to Emmaus Bible College?
EC: I had planned to pursue a doctorate, but I needed a break from school and started searching for jobs. A friend of the family (in Pennsylvania) had attended Emmaus back in its Oak Park days, and she received an alumni letter that included an opening for a music professor. She knew from my parents that I was looking for a job, so she called and recommended that I apply for the position. I didn’t know anything about Emmaus, but it seemed like God was continually pointing me in this direction during the entire interview process.
EE: What do you like to do with your time when you’re not preparing for classes or studying? What hobbies do you have?
EC: Music (outside of teaching!)—I enjoy performing duo piano recitals with a colleague in town, and I also help with music at my local church. I like to exercise, especially when it’s warm enough to get outside and walk. I enjoy playing games with friends and keeping up with my family across the country.
EE: If you could spend ten minutes with any biblical character (other than Jesus) who would it be and why?
EC: Maybe John or Moses, because they both had a really close relationship with God.
EE: Any other interesting things about yourself that you think our readers would like to know?
EC: I have traveled to eight different countries outside of the U.S: Canada, England, Israel, Indonesia, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy. Actually it would be nine countries if you count a 45-minute bus stop in Hungary!
We hope you have enjoyed this interview with Elisa Cooper. To hear more about the Ensemble and this year’s spring break tour, click here.