“Mary N. Cook,” Ensign, May 2008, 142
As she repeats the Young Women theme with young women throughout the world, Mary Nielsen Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, is grateful to know that she is a daughter of God.
“My father passed away in November 2007, and I believe the Lord was willing to carry me through this trying time,” Sister Cook says. “We teach our young women that we are all daughters of God; this sacred experience reconfirmed that He knows and loves me individually.”
Born on June 8, 1951, to Kenneth Nielsen and Fern Swan Nielsen, Sister Cook grew up in Midvale, Utah, USA, and offers her experiences as an example to young women who face times of uncertainty in their lives.
“I was not married until I was 37, and I know a lot of the concerns and fears that women face,” Sister Cook says. “You have to have faith and the courage to continue moving forward, despite uncertainty.”
She married Richard E. Cook on July 16, 1988, in the Salt Lake Temple and is now the stepmother to 4 children and step-grandmother to 17 grandchildren.
“Having a good education has been a great help in my life,” says Sister Cook, who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech pathology and audiology as well as an EdS (education specialist) degree from Brigham Young University. “It has better prepared me to serve as a mother and to serve in the Church.”
Sister Cook served as a full-time missionary in Mongolia with her husband, whom she calls her best friend. She previously served as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency and on the Young Women general board.
Sister Cook believes it is important to focus on individuals. “We want each young woman to stand as a witness of Christ,” Sister Cook says. “Those aren’t just words. We need to help give her the will and the confidence to be a righteous daughter of God.”