Many students may dream about interning with Google, but for Laker Jonathan Cook '16, that dream was a reality. Last fall, Jonathan spent his semester in Ann Arbor working full-time with the internet giant. “I was a consultant for small to medium-sized businesses – everything from the mom and pop shop down the street to larger corporations,” he says. His duties included helping businesses find and engage customers while building their brand.
Jonathan is also a Fellow at the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy through the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, and he saw many parallels between the two experiences. “It was a great opportunity because the Google community was very similar to what I found at the Cook Leadership Academy,” he shares, adding that both places were “breeding grounds for innovative thought and intellectual humility.”
“Being a Cook fellow has connected me with all the student leaders around the university as well as leaders in the community – it’s been amazing to see how great leadership can make an impact in our community and in the world,” he says.
A major in finance and accounting, Jonathan hopes to start his own business and become a successful entrepreneur to create jobs for the area. He most recently interned for Start Garden, a West Michigan seed accelerator. While there, he helped startups raise investment capital to continue developing and commercializing their offerings.
Jonathan says that these opportunities have helped him make connections and learn important leadership skills. He credits donor support with helping to make that happen.
“I feel that donors [to the Hauenstein Center] play a huge role for Grand Valley students,” he says. “Many of the Cook fellows have been some of the best leaders on campus – they are leading movements and bringing students together to build our Laker community. The Hauenstein Center has been pivotal in making that happen.”
A gift to the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies from donors J.C. and Tammy Huizenga greatly benefits the Cook Leadership Academy. The Huizengas are long-time supporters of the Grand Valley community. Their gift ensures students like Jonathan will continue to have access to valuable leadership opportunities.
Jonathan plans to continue to lend his talents to West Michigan through business development, as well as dedicating time to giving back to his community. “I want my Laker effect to be helping underprivileged communities. We have a great philanthropic community here, and I want to share that with the world. It’s part of what we love to do as Lakers.”
Jonathan says he has benefited tremendously from the generosity of the Huizengas, and he’s looking forward to having his own positive impact. “To all the donors of Grand Valley, thank you so much for all the opportunities you have given me. It has made my life and time here unforgettable, and I can’t wait to pay it forward.”