How Stephen Hook Went from Newcomer to President in Just Six Weeks


It turns out running for office is a great way to meet people and jump right into the deep end of college life, because in less than 6 weeks, first-year student Stephen Hook went from not knowing another soul at Washington College, to meeting basically every member of the freshman class AND being elected president of the Class of 2025. And he’s just getting started.

Stephen Hook, Class of 2025 President, meets with his classmates over dinner

Stephen Hook, a double major working towards degrees in both Political Science and Communications, felt an instant connection to Washington College, starting from his initial interaction with just the website. Visiting the campus only cemented that feeling for Hook, who said that once he saw it for himself, “there was no way I wasn’t going to be a student here.”

 “I really liked the smaller environment and the low student to faculty ratio,” he said. “I knew that I could excel in a smaller space and Washington College really fit the bill.”

And excel he has. Shortly after arriving, Hook got enough signatures to become a Senator in the Student Government Association, and began attending the weekly SGA meetings. Right away he realized, and appreciated, just how much input and autonomy students have. “We are really empowered to make a lot of decisions, like deciding on our own budgets, as one example,” he said. “I was really intrigued by the elevated role students have, so I started talking to some of the upperclassmen about a run for class president.

“It’s just five weeks from when you arrive on campus until the class elections, so it’s a pretty unique situation for the first-year students,” he added. But Hook has been active with Student Government in some way, shape or form since the 4th grade, so it also felt like something he knew and was comfortable with – and doing something familiar became important as he looked to establish himself on campus.

“I’m outgoing, but it turns out I’m maybe not as comfortable meeting new people as I thought I was,” explained Hook, a resident of Catonsville, MD, who came to Washington College knowing no one. Being on his own track, he was watching everyone around him make friends pretty easily, while he just wasn’t. “Running for president became a natural way to meet people, because it was an excuse to say hello and start a conversation,” he said.  And in short order, Hook did his best to have a conversation with every single one of his classmates.

The strategy worked and Hook was elected. , Post-election, his first order of business was to go ahead and meet every single department head at the College, and he scheduled meetings with all of them – Dining Services, Residential Life, Public Safety, Student Affairs, etc. “I was really just trying to hear for myself, what is Washington College, and what is expected of the freshman class,” he said. “It’s one of the smartest things I’ve done, because it was a really great way to network, to find out who’s who, and to learn what resources are available to students.”

Hook -- who joked that he may have jumped in a little over his head after winning the election -- also wanted to get right to work on problem-solving, having gathered notes on issues important to students during his campaign. One example of this was the state of the residence halls. Hook was aware of some staffing issues affecting Housekeeping and Maintenance, and was also hearing how that was impacting the students living on campus.

Embracing the advocacy aspect of his leadership role, Hook arranged a meeting with Amy Sine, the Director of Residential Life, and the two of them worked together to organize a Town Hall for freshmen, where they served up both pizza and useful information. Among other topics, they talked about how to put in a Work Order, and what resources were available to address issues. Following the Town Hall, complaints decreased because if the paper towels ran out, the first-year students knew what steps to take to get that problem resolved.

He also took on the role of Public Safety Liaison, a student position created by the SGA Executive Board after some tensions arose between the Public Safety staff and students. Hook was nominated for the job by the Executive Board, which was a natural fit given that his platform included serving as a bridge between the two. Hook noted that those tensions were largely based on a lack of communication, and that having a student communicate on behalf of Public Safety was important. “Working together, we dealt with many of the concerns that were at the heart of the conflict, and by the end of the semester we were all able to take a step back because our weekly meetings weren’t needed anymore,” he said. “We put in the work, and it worked.”

With one semester under his belt, his goals for the spring remain largely the same – to continue to solicit feedback from his classmates about their concerns and what they want from their campus experience. He also wants to know what type of fun events his peers want. “Really, I just want to get people talking, and that doesn’t always have to be because of a specific issue,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Hook sees himself one day working in political communications or possibly even as a public servant himself, and he definitely plans to continue to run for office throughout his Washington College career.

“I think the freshmen here are in a unique situation, because we are new to the College, excited to be here and are fairly high-energy,” said Hook, noting that this engagement was apparent during the election, which had a high rate of participation. “I want to keep that momentum going and just continue to run with it as long as we can.”