Thomas Cooke, 20, Best College Speech Winner, is originally from Hastings, Nebraska. He is beginning his junior year at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where he is an editor for the school newspaper’s opinion section, Chair of Cornell’s College Republicans chapter, and a competitor on the Mock Trial team. His mother teaches English as a second language to elementary school children and his father is a professor of math and computer science at Hastings College. Thomas’ older brother is in pilot training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. Thomas has been interested in writing, public speaking, and current events from a very young age and enjoys opportunities to get involved in politics at every level.