Community College Times Features Two Jack Kent Cooke Scholars

It’s always great to see our Scholars featured in the news.  Today we find an article in Community College Times about two Undergraduate Transfer Scholars, Scott Pine and Melissa Gordon.

Also remember that the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship application is open through November 7. New this year: students apply directly to the Foundation so what are you waiting for?

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Helping student scholars hurdle a financial barrier

By Tabitha Whissemore, Published October 8, 2013

Pine and Gordon

When a community college student decides to transfer to a four-year institution, finances often play a major role in choosing where to apply. Even with excellent academic grades, attending a top institution, such as Stanford or Cornell University, may seem impossible.


Photos: Scholars Scott Pine and Melissa Gordon

That’s where the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship program from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF) provides a bridge. Each year, JKCF awards up to 75 community college students with a life-changing scholarship—up to $30,000 per year to attend the four-year institution of their choice. Applications are being accepted until Nov. 7 for the next group of scholars. (See video at the end of this article.)

Qualified students must have a GPA of 3.5, but the foundation isn’t just looking for “book smarts,” according to Emily Froimson, vice president of programs.

“Students also have to demonstrate grit, persistence and determination,” Froimson said.

From mediocre to motivated

Those are some of the characteristics Scott Pine demonstrated in his scholarship application. Pine is a 2013 scholarship recipient. He transferred from Santa Monica College (SMC) in California to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is accepting applications for the next round of Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships. The deadline is Nov. 7.

In high school, Pine was a star football player, but a “mediocre” student, he said.

“The idea of going to college was never in my game plan,” Pine said.

While playing football, he sustained head blows so severe that he lost his ability to read, write and speak. He had constant headaches and had difficulty in brightly-lit areas and noisy spaces.

During his long recovery, he was forced to think about “what’s next.” He realized education was a tool for empowerment.

“I decided I was going to get my Ph.D., and nothing was going to stand in my way,” Pine said.

He enrolled at SMC and took advantage of the resources available. He worked on student publications and presentations, was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and served as an ambassador for the college. While Pine was on an SMC-sponsored trip to New York City, in a room overlooking the newly-built Freedom Tower, the college’s president announced that Pine won the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

“I was in shock,” said Pine, who is studying psychology. “To know my hard work paid off was very gratifying.”

Prepared to transfer

JKCF scholars have a good track record when they transfer. Overall, 98 percent of the students succeed at their chosen four-year institutions, according to Froimson.

Assisting high-achieving transfer students

Some of those students, though, might need a push to apply. It’s a competitive process—last year, nearly 800 students from 377 community colleges were nominated by their colleges. This year, students can apply directly for the scholarship, but they may need guidance on putting together a solid application.

Regardless of the scholarship, students who plan to transfer also should know about the process and what classes they need to take to ensure a smooth transfer, Froimson added.

“A competitive student is prepared to transfer,” she said.

Dropping back in

When Melissa Gordon enrolled at Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC), she wasn’t thinking about transferring. A high school dropout who at one time lived in a Toyota, Gordon knew she was intelligent, but circumstances had always gotten in the way of her education.

At LAVC, Gordon had many mentors who pushed her to succeed. She joined volunteer groups and tutored. In her last year, she decided she wanted to continue her education, but she knew it would be expensive. That’s when Gordon and her friends all applied for the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Initiative to increase transfer students outlines keys to success

When Gordon learned she got the scholarship, she started researching private four-year institutions she wouldn’t have previously considered. Stanford University was on the list.

“It’s very selective. I didn’t think I’d get in, but I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t apply,” Gordon said.

She’s now part of a community of transfer students at the university. Gordon is studying English and minoring in education. Someday, she wants to open her own literacy foundation.