Student Leader Spotlight: Jason Cooke

Jason Alexander Cooke

Student Senate legislative director receives Campus Compact Presidents’ Student Leadership Award; also selected for ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge 2023 Student Voting Honor Roll

Jason Alexander Cooke, 41, is earning his Political Science Transfer Pathway A.A. and Social Justice certificate at Inver Hills Community College. Jason is an exceptionally engaged student at Inver Hills. He served as the Student Senate’s legislative director and Advocacy Committee co-chair from April 2022 to April 2023. He worked tirelessly during the 2022 U.S. midterm elections to help get out the vote on campus.

Jason’s commitment to student advocacy and involvement earned him two prestigious awards. He was honored with the Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact (IAMNCC) Presidents’ Student Leadership Award. He also made the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge 2023 Student Voting Honor Roll.

“I would like to thank Shannon William, my Student Senate advisor,” Jason said. “I would also thank my fellow student voter ambassadors who helped me get out the vote.”

After graduating from Inver Hills in May 2024, Jason plans on transferring to Metropolitan State University to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“I’m thinking about enrolling in the Social Science B.A. Political Advocacy Leadership Track program,” he said. “My career goals are to finish my B.A. and get a job advocating for policy change in my community at a nonprofit agency.”

Shannon Williams, community-based learning coordinator at the college, reported that Jason has been at the center of campus student voter engagement and outreach for the past three years.

“I first met Jason in the summer of 2020 when Inver Hills launched the GAP program in response to the pandemic, and Jason joined the GAP program as a participant in the civic engagement theme,” Shannon said. “Jason contributed greatly to our resulting recognition in having the highest student voter turnout of community colleges in the country in 2020.”

Shannon added that during fall semester 2022 the campus voting coalition planned weekly events from the first week until the November midterm election.

“Jason was present at all the events not only asking students if they were registered to vote, but also inviting them to get involved in Student Life,” she said. “I am so thankful for his involvement and leadership. He has played a key role in establishing our college’s position as a national leader in the student voting space.”

Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact (IAMNCC)

Presidents’ Student Leadership Award

The Presidents’ Student Leadership Award recognizes an individual student or a student organization that models a deep commitment to civic responsibility and leadership, evidenced by initiative, innovative and collaborative approaches to addressing public issues, effective community building, and integration of civic engagement into the college experience.

ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge

2023 Student Voting Honor Roll

175 students recognized in 2023.

The annual ALL IN Student Voting Honor Roll recognizes college students at participating campuses who are advancing nonpartisan student voter registration, education, and turnout efforts as well as ensuring equitable access to the polls.

More about Jason…

Jason works part-time while going to Inver Hills as a guest ambassador at U.S. Bank Stadium. His pastimes and hobbies include watching Netflix, listening to audiobooks, and spending time with his family.

“I have three siblings, two sisters, and a brother,” he said. “I had a fourth sibling, but my sister died a few years ago. I don’t have any pets, but I’m thinking about getting a lizard, like a bearded dragon.”

Jason resides in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

Jason Alexander Cooke Q & A

Jason Alexander Cooke
What have you liked best about your role as Student Senate legislative director?

What I like best about my role as Student Senate legislative director is that I got to help inform people about Student Senate and Student Life.

What advice would you give students who are thinking about participating in Student Senate?

The advice I will give students who are thinking about joining or participating in the Student Senate is that you don’t have to be into politics to join the Student Senate. You just have to care about students and students’ needs.

What area of politics interests you the most and why?

I’m interested in nonprofit lobbying for policy change. For instance, lobbying to get an assault weapons ban or advocating for Congress to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What do you look forward to most as you continue your college journey at a four-year school?

What I look for most as I continue my four-year journey is meeting new people and learning new ways on helping people and advocating for people  and advocating for  political change.

What do/did you like best about attending Inver Hills?

What I like the best about attending Inver Hills is that everybody is welcoming and nice.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

The person that influenced me the most is Malcolm X. This is because Malcolm advocated for black empowerment. Malcolm often asked you to question the political system. Is it helping you; is it benefiting you or not? Malcolm encourages you to use your mind because it could be a powerful thing.

Malcolm X • SOURCE: Getty Images
Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?

I hope to be working for a nonprofit organization or as a political advisor.

Three words that describes your experience at Inver Hills:


Jason Alexander Cooke 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: My favorite sport is football; I played that when I was a kid and in high school, and I enjoyed it
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Washington, D.C.—I would like to go see the museums, especially the National Museum of African American History & Culture and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial; I also would like to go to the Library of Congress; also, I would like to visit Athens, Greece.
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: The most exciting thing I have ever done besides going to school, was seeing The Rolling Stones in concert
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Start a nonprofit organization to help disabled people with medical equipment who can’t afford it; I will probably start some type of organization involving medical resources for spinal cord injuries 2) I will make sure my immediate family will never have to work again 3) I would travel all around the world
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: I just listened to an audiobook by John Grisham called The Boys from Biloxi; I enjoyed that: it was a court/legal drama sort of like The Firm
  6. Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: I would travel back to ancient Egypt to see how they built the pyramids
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: Be able to live a long healthy life; I would also like to leave the country
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: My natural bird will be a hawk
  9. Dream occupation: Be an advisor to the president of the United States
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Right now Bernie Sanders 
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Speaking another language 
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Climate change
Learn more about Student Senate at Inver Hills by contacting:

Kimberly Swinney
Director of Student Life
Student Senate Staff Advisor

Bradley Manley
Communication Studies Faculty
Student Senate Advisor

Shannon Williams
Community Based Learning Coordinator
Student Senate Staff Advisor

Learn more about Political Science at Inver Hills by contacting:

Inver Hills Community College
Virtual Visit

More about Political Science at Inver Hills…

Politics is people exercising power to decide what will be accomplished on matters of public concern. As a political science student, you will examine differing viewpoints and interest groups that often conflict on the nature and outcomes of public issues. You can study politics on the local, state, national, and/or international levels.

The 60-credit Political Science Transfer Pathway A.A. degree program offers you the powerful opportunity to complete an associate degree and transfer with junior-year status to a designated political science bachelor’s degree program at one of seven Minnesota State universities.

As a student in this A.A. degree program, you will complete the Required Political Science Pathway Curriculum (9 credits), General Electives (18 credits), Health/Physical Education coursework (2 credits), and Additional General Education Requirements (31 credits) for a credit total of 60.

Minnesota State universities

Bemidji State University
Metropolitan State University
Minnesota State University Mankato
Minnesota State University Moorhead
Southwest Minnesota State University
St. Cloud State University
Winona State University

Why study Political Science at Inver Hills?

Focus your passion for public affairs.
Examine political problems from all angles and consider a wide gamut of solutions. Make civic engagement and the politics of change the benchmarks of your academic career.

Become a political machinist.
Get down to the brass tacks of politics. Learn how the decision-making process functions and unfolds at all levels of government.

Grasp the factors that shape our everyday lives.
Politics determines the state of our schools, healthcare networks, food supply, transportation infrastructure, environment, natural resources, criminal justice system, and national security. Become that informed citizen who makes “politics as usual” a bygone expression.

Get the party started.
Political Science at Inver Hills offers introductory coursework in comparative, American, and Minnesota politics. Find out where you are on the never-ending campaign trail.

Form a more perfect Union.
We also offer a course called Introduction to Constitutional Law that provides an overview of American rights and liberties. Think controversy after controversy. Delve deep into the statecraft and intrigue behind your own political values, beliefs, and behaviors.

Actions speak louder.
Take field trips to the Minnesota State Capitol, interview public officials during classroom visits, participate in meaningful civic engagement projects, partner with the Inver Hills Student Senate. These are just some of the ways you’ll apply the hard and soft science of politics to the real world.

Internships rule.
Earn college credit while completing an internship in a range of areas, including government agencies, political parties, political campaigns, interest groups, and other organizations linked to the study of political science.

Vote for your own future.
Our Transfer Pathway A.A. gives you the credits you need to transfer with junior-year status to a political science baccalaureate program at one of seven Minnesota State universities. Your education at Inver Hills will elect you the leader of your academic and career destiny.

Master the science of politics.
Our Political Science alumni often transfer to competitive baccalaureate programs and go on to enroll in law school or other graduate schools. They have continued following their dreams to become accomplished educators, attorneys, government employees, lobbyists, community leaders, and elected officeholders.

Career opportunities

As a political science major, you will develop the critical-thinking acumen, analytical skills, administrative know-how, mathematical competence, and communication expertise essential to careers in numerous high-reward fields.


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