In the fall of 1891 Hoover entered the new Leland Stanford Junior University at Palo Alto, California. Cutting a wider swath outside the classroom than in, Hoover managed the baseball and football teams, started a laundry and ran a lecture agency. Teaming up with other poor boys against campus swells, the reluctant candidate was elected student body treasurer on the "Barbarian" slate, then wiped out a student government debt of $2,000.
Hoover earned his way through school by doing typing chores for Professor John Caspar Branner, who also got him a summer job mapping the terrain in Arkansas' Ozark Mountains. It was in Branner's geology lab that he met Miss Lou Henry, a banker's daughter born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1874. Lou shared her fellow Iowan's love of the outdoors and self-reliant nature. "It isn't so important what others think of you as what you feel inside yourself," she told college friends.
Hoover graduated three months before his 21st birthday. He left Stanford with $40 in his pocket and no prospects for employment. But from this college in a hay field, he had derived much more than a degree in geology. Stanford gave Hoover an identity, a profession, and a future bride. Most of all, Stanford became for the orphan from West Branch a surrogate family - a place to belong.