History grad’s successes stacking up

Thomas Cooke ՚15, a history graduate, left the Hilltop to work for the United States Senator Joni Ernst as a constituent service representative in her Davenport, Iowa, office.

Thomas CookeFour years later and Cooke is in his second year of study at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law (UT Law) and is clerking at a white-collar criminal defense firm, Brown Rudnick LLP in Washington, D.C.

While at Cornell, Cooke was part of Cornell’s Mock Trial team that went to the National Championships and placed second at Yale. Cooke’s accolades while an undergrad include winning Constituting America’s Best College Speech contest. He also won numerous academic awards every year, including induction into Phil Alpha Delta Pre-Law Honorary Society.

His academic achievements continue to stack up in law school. Cooke notes that he’s earned top grades and attributes his success to the preparation he received while at Cornell.

“Constitutional Law with Professor Craig Allin was instrumental to my success,” Cooke says. “One Course At A Time taught me what it felt like to immerse myself in a difficult subject matter until I completely understood it. Law school is just learning how to do that, but with four or five things at once.”

The summer before his junior year at Cornell, Cooke worked for the United States Senator Chuck Grassley’s office as the Mansfield Foundation Fellow in Representative Government. The summer before his senior year, Cooke interned at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. During his senior year at Cornell, Cooke took a memorable off-campus studies course, Psychology of the Holocaust, where his class visited Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and Krakow.  

“We learned about the long and tragic history not only of the Holocaust but of antisemitism in Europe,” Cooke says. “The experience opened my eyes to a phenomenon in history that I had never really understood before.”

Cooke made the Texas Law Review and next year he will be an associate editor. He also participated in UT Law’s Supreme Court Clinic where students work closely with faculty on cases before the United States Supreme Court. Cooke wrote amicus briefs and visited an oral argument.

He has some advice for students considering Cornell.

“No other plan will immerse you, challenge you, or reward you like One Course at a Time,” he says. “Invest in it and it will pay huge dividends. You’ll become a dedicated and efficient learner, and you’ll carry that trait with you for the rest of your life.”

He also has a few people he’d like to thank from his years at the Hilltop.

“Many thanks to Abbe Stensland, coach of the Mock Trial team; Robert Givens, my history thesis advisor; Hans Hassell and Craig Allin.”