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25 Students Nationwide Earn Largest Scholarships for Community College Students


25 Students Nationwide Earn Largest Scholarships in America for Community College Students


LANSDOWNE, VA - More than 6.5 million students now attend US community colleges for credit. Today, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has chosen from among them 25 students who will receive one of the largest and most competitive scholarships available to undergraduates. The recipients, who are attending or have recently graduated from two-year colleges in the US, will use the scholarship funds to transfer to four-year colleges and universities across the United States, including some of the most selective institutions in the country. While the amount and duration of awards will vary by student based on the cost of attendance or grants received, awards can total up to $30,000 per year for each student.

The Undergraduate Transfer Jack Kent Cooke Scholars come from community and two-year colleges in 18 states. They were selected from among 791 nominees nominated by 519 institutions across the country. Because institutions on average reviewed more than three candidates internally before submitting their nominees, the number of students considered for the award totaled in the thousands. There is no larger scholarship, or one involving such intense competition, available to community college students.

The Foundation created the program to "make sure financial obstacles do not prevent high-achieving community college students from advancing their education and pursuing their dreams," said Matthew J. Quinn, the Foundation's executive director. "These 25 students are among the finest students in the country, at any institution."

"This transfer scholarship program is the equivalent to these undergraduates of what programs such as the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships are to graduate students. The size and prestige of the awards emphasize the tremendous talent at our nation's community colleges," said Dr. William R. Brody, president, Johns Hopkins University.

The 25 men and women selected (see attached list) bring to 161 the number of students who have received the undergraduate scholarships since the Foundation first offered them in 2002. Through the undergraduate transfer scholarships, the Foundation offers support for tuition, room and board, books, and other required fees for the remainder of the Jack Kent Cooke Scholar's bachelor's degree, generally two or three years.

Community colleges are growing at nearly three times the rate of four-year schools. They now enroll 45% of all undergraduate students in the country. At the same time, contrary to common perception, three out of every four community college students are of traditional college age (between 18 and 24). As this group of students grows and changes, a rising number of them seek opportunities to earn four-year degrees.

The recipients include:

  • Carla Dyck, a trained auto mechanic in her native Canada, who plays football for the New York Dazzles of the Women's Professional Football League. Through the scholarship she'll embark on her goal of teaching high school English. Carla earned a 4.0 GPA at Suffolk County Community College and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
  • Steven Schmidt's career in computers was moving along nicely when he was diagnosed with leukemia. A three-year recovery process caused the 35-year-old to rethink his career path. He hopes to become a health psychologist for cancer patients. While at Manchester Community College, Steven achieved a near-perfect 3.98 GPA, was named to the All-Connecticut Academic Team, and won two Coca Cola scholarships. In addition, he was named president of Phi Theta Kappa.
  • Farzad Zolfaghari is the son of Afghan immigrants who has a burning desire to be a doctor. He wants to pursue a medical career in neurology "to help people suffering from neurological disorders associated with biological deterioration and substance abuse." Farzad received the top award for leadership at Long Beach Community College and has also earned a 4.0 GPA.


Stephen Anderson, Lake Land College (Mattoon, IL)
Wesley Arnold, Blue Ridge Community College (Flat Rock, NC)
Michele Burton, Prince George's Community College (MD)
Thomas Chupein, City College of San Francisco (CA)
Abraham Cisne, Community College of Philadelphia (PA)
Jessica Clement, Weatherford College (Weatherford, TX)
Krista Jo Dusek, Maui Community College (HI)
Carla Dyck, Suffolk County Community College (NY)
Fernando Escalona, Georgia Perimeter College (Decatur, GA)
James Flores, Saint Philip's College (San Antonio, TX)
Ardeta Gjikola, Henry Ford Community College (Dearborn, MI)
Susan Hogue, Cowley College (Arkansas City, KS)
Caraleigh Holverson, Triton College (River Grove, IL)
Athena Lapan, Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte, NC)
Daniel Martin, South Suburban College (South Holland, IL)
Heather Morrison, Cochise College (Douglas, AZ)
Mohamed Osman Kassam, Green River Community College (Auburn, WA)
Ephraim Payne, Lane Community College (Eugene, OR)
Steven Schmidt, Manchester Community College (Manchester, CT)
Linda Siegmann, Tulsa Community College (OK)
Nermina Sljivo, Indian River Community College (Fort Pierce, FL)
Jennifer Smith, College of the Redwoods (Eureka, CA)
Christopher Sullivan, Seattle Central Community College (WA)
Jessica Watson, Tidewater Community College (Norfolk, VA)
Farzad Zolfaghari, Long Beach Community College (Long Beach, CA)






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