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SGA President sees student leadership as mission

JACKSON, Tenn.April 24, 2002 – As student body president of the Student Government Association (SGA), Keelan Cook holds one of the most influential positions on Union University’s campus. The fact that Cook is only a sophomore makes his election unusual, but Cook is proving himself to be a capable leader.

“I try to make it evident that I do have some real goals that I want to accomplish and I hope people can see that,” Cook said.

Sophomores Nathan Robertson (left), Christian ethics major, and India Hickman (right), sports medicine major, show their support for sophomore SGA president Keelan Cook (center).
Cook first became involved with student government during his freshman year at Lawrence County High School in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. Although initially, he admits that he was interested in only the “fun side” of the program, he soon saw how student government could be used to serve the school and students and decided to pursue it further. Holding various positions over the course of his four years there, Cook ultimately was elected student body president during his senior year. In addition to his local responsibilities, Cook also served as a board member of the State Association of Student Councils. This opportunity, says Cook, allowed him to participate in statewide school projects.

“The board helped me see the need to develop student leadership programs,” Cook explained. “That’s one of my main concerns now.”

Seeing a lack of this kind of leadership entering into high schools, Cook worked with others on the board to develop a similar board for middle school students, a program that is now in place in many Tennessee schools. To advance this, Cook directed a camp this previous summer for middle school students to train them as leaders.

Due to the amount of time that student government requires, Cook had pledged to be less involved with government in college, but once he got here he saw needs he thought he could help fill. After being a part of various governmental bodies, he was elected to his current position. Cook still has the primary objective for his position that he had in high school – to develop student leadership and promote student involvement in school activities.

“When people can invest themselves in something like the idea of Union, they develop a sense of character and who they are as a whole,” Cook said. “That’s my main goal – not just to provide the students with events and activities, but to give people that opportunity to grow.”

When asked what helped him develop this motivation, Cook cited his father, Charlie Cook, as one of the biggest influences in his life.

“I’ve watched my dad and seen his convictions, how he lives, the things he does, how he influences people, and what he seeks in life,” Cook said. “I’ve seen these things, and I know I want to be like that.” In addition to his father, Cook says he has been influenced by other members of his high school student government as well as one of the world’s most famous heroes – Superman.

Currently, Cook is majoring in public relations and minoring in ethics, fields that he hopes will help him achieve his goal of going into a field that allows him to motivate people in some way. A natural with public speaking, Cook believes that areas like youth evangelism and motivational speaking would be something he would like to pursue.

“I’d like to impact young people on a daily basis,” Cook said. “I want to bring a positive Christian message to a secular world.”

By Jody Webster,
Class of 2004

Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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