We had the good fortune of connecting with Tiana Cooks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tiana, what principle do you value most?
One of the most important values that align with who I am is authenticity. I firmly believe that every person on this earth has their own purpose, power, and space that they were created to take up. As a woman of color from Colorado Springs, being my authentic self was something that I struggled with for many years as I felt inadequate in my body and my skin. I will never forget how liberating it was the first time I felt like I could authentically be me. Authentic Tiana does not compare; she inspires. She is a lover of life, lover of people, and a lover of self. She does not strive to be perfect; she strives to be happy. She places smiles on faces aside from her own. She is now walking in her purpose and power while using her voice to take up space. One of my passions is mentoring young girls and helping them fall in love with their authentic selves by reminding them that they are beautiful and wonderfully made. Society places lots of unrealistic expectations on how we should present ourselves, and one of my goals is to show them that they are unique and enough just by being their authentic and true selves. Authenticity is freeing, and there is no better feeling than that of knowing you are 100% true to who you are.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am most proud of the work I have done in my community and at Beyond Type 1, as well as the connections that I have made online with others around the world. Sharing my story and being vulnerable about my adversities has given me a platform to elevate and amplify my experiences and the experiences of others.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend came to visit Colorado, our first stop would be BonChon Chicken in Stapleton, where we would place an order for their soy garlic chicken wings and seasoned fries. We would then check out the Botanic Gardens in Denver for the beautiful scenery and fresh air. Following the gardens, we would visit the 16th Street Mall for the experience of seeing street performers while also having a great time shopping. To end the first day, we would stop by Blue Sushi for the delicious food and drinks before driving down to Colorado Springs. Some of our stops over the week would include a few of my favorite restaurants: Ocean Prime, Springs Orleans, and the Rabbit Hole. We could stop by Coati, which is a trendy up and coming food and cocktail bar in the area. Amongst other outdoor activities throughout the week, we would visit the Manitou Incline, Garden of the Gods, and drive to the top of Pikes Peak to view the city. Since Colorado Springs is home to the Olympic Training Center, we would have a wonderful time touring the facility. Last but not least, we would make a stop at my favorite place to grab drinks at Cork & Cask, located in Downtown Colorado Springs. There is so much to do and see in this beautiful state, so my friend would have to come back and visit so we can check out more places like the Sand Dunes, Hanging Lake, and Breckenridge!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the constant support, wisdom, advice, and unwavering encouragement my parents give so freely to me. As I reflect on all of my failures and achievements thus far, I vividly recall two faces present at any event that I was involved in. The first being my mom, Sabrina Cooks, and the other, my dad, Edward Cooks. My dad taught me to be strong, to know my worth, and never to quit. My mom has shown me the value of compassion and empathy. Between the two of them, I have learned the importance of hard work and the significance of staying true to yourself while always being kind to others. Those two lessons alone have heavily contributed to who and where I am today. I have my parents to thank for many things, but I am forever indebted to them for the support they have given me since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes – I do not know what I would do without them. So this shoutout goes out to my parents for believing in me at times when I didn’t believe in myself, for loving me on days when I was struggling to love myself, for being admirable role models who have displayed what it means to be a decent human being. For creating me and bringing me into this world, I literally wouldn’t be here without them!
Evan Browning Martyna Jazdzewska