Benjamin Zook readily admits he was apathetic toward school in his early teens. That would change after a conversation with his father.
Zook, a senior at Loudoun Valley High School, has maintained a 4.3 GPA since the beginning of his junior year. He has brought his cumulative GPA up to 3.85.
"I have to give my dad a lot of credit,” Zook said. “He sat me down and explained to me that what I'm doing now is important. It might not seem important now but it will be later. That really resonated with me."
An actor in numerous community and school theater productions since 2010, Zook also participates in several extracurricular activities at Loudoun Valley. He's part of the school's Model UN, debate team, history club and academic team.
Zook is particularly fond of his roles as a public relations officer and secretary for the Model UN program. He earned Best Speaker honors in 2013. The 18-year-old believes politics is the art of the possible.
"Ben's passion for politics is truly second to none among peers his age," Loudoun Valley counselor Paul Hall wrote in a recommendation letter. "His political acumen is undeniably fascinating."
Zook volunteered with the Democratic Coordinated Campaign for eight months in 2013. He accurately predicted the voting outcome of all 50 states prior to the 2012 Presidential election.
"I like to say that politics is America's greatest sport,” Zook said. “In many ways it is.”
Zook’s senior project involves writing a political blog. "Personally, I do grow an attachment to one candidate. However, also like a sport, it is good to understand that your team will lose."
Zook will continue his education at American University in Washington, D.C. He is going to major in CLEG - Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics and Government.
"I know I have a passion for all of those subjects, along with international relations," Zook said. "But I don't know which one exactly that I want to (home) in on. I hope that's what I figure out at American University."
Whatever the future may hold for Zook, there is little doubt that the determination instilled in him through that conversation with his dad will carry on.
"The ability to achieve something that matters is essentially what drives me," Zook said. "I think if I do well now that will set me up to do something that certainly matters and might make a difference."
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