Cooke Foundation Awards 90 Scholarships to Exceptionally Gifted Community College Students

LANSDOWNE, VA – The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announces today 90 recipients of its 2015 Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship for students transferring from two-year community colleges to four-year baccalaureate institutions in the country. The Cooke Foundation provides up to $40,000 a year for up to three years and is a gateway to the Cooke Foundation’s graduate scholarship program and its new Oxford and Cambridge scholarships.

The 90 recipients are the largest cohort since the Cooke Foundation began the program 14 years ago. There have been 735 recipients to date. This year 2,061 community college students applied, representing 540 community colleges in all 50 states, one U.S. territory, and the District of Columbia. The selection committee consisted of 18 admissions professionals, including representatives from the most selective four-year colleges and universities in the country.

“Community colleges hold some of best untapped talent in the nation, but often these students need financial resources, guidance, and support in order to take the next step and earn bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees,” explained Executive Director Harold O. Levy. “The Cooke Foundation has always been committed to identifying the best of the best in community colleges across the country, and this year we have an extraordinary group.”

Scholars were selected based on high academic ability and achievements, persistence, leadership, and financial need. The next application cycle for the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Program will run from late September to early December. Rising sophomores and recent community college graduates (within the last five years) are eligible to apply for this scholarship.

“More needs to be done to encourage gifted community college students to continue their studies at prestigious four-year colleges and universities,” Levy said.

“We believe our program makes a difference, but we’d also like to see more and better partnerships between community colleges and four-year schools, particularly selective institutions, as well as resources before, during, and after transfer. As President Obama has said, we need to change the way we think about community colleges as they will be critical to developing the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.”

The following is a complete list of students selected for the 2015 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship:

Daniel Albuquerque (Montgomery College, MD)

Mariia Alibekova (Bergen Community College, NJ)

Suleiman Ameh (Iowa Central Community College)

Dayana Arrue (Essex County College, NJ)

Alyssa Barratt (Crowder College, MO)

Malak  Benkhadra (Broward College, FL)

Jessica Bennett (Essex County College, NJ)

John Brown (Massachusetts Bay Community College)

Najlaa Bouras (Kingsborough Community College, NY)

Cristel Callupe Chavez (Massachusetts Bay Community College)

Pierre Carrion Garcia (Miami Dade College, FL)

Ismael  Castaneda (Tarrant County College, TX)

Sagar Chapagain (Community College of Baltimore County, MD)

Chun-Ming Chen (Northern Virginia Community College)

Kyle Chin-How (Queensborough Community College, NY)

Abigail Clark (Otero Junior College, CO)

London Cluff   (Ivy Tech Community College, IN)

Clara Grace Coker (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, GA)

Efua Crentsil (Schoolcraft College, MI)

Faith Culhane (Valencia College, FL)

Kayleah Cumpian (Northeast Texas Community College)

Melissa Cunningham (Seminole State College of Florida, FL)

Steven  Curcio (Suffolk County Community College, NY)

Dillon DeWitt  (Macomb Community College, MI)

Melissa Diaz (Daytona State College, FL)

Brianna DiSanza (Germanna Community College, VA)

Joseph Elkins  (Glendale Community College, CA)

Omar Escamilla (College of DuPage, IL)

Heather Fast (Riverland Community College, MN)

Jonathan Finnerty (Middlesex County College, NJ)

Brittany Garwood (Gulf Coast State College, FL)

Ana Guevara (Palm Beach State College, FL)

Lucia Gwarada (American River College, CA)

Brandon Hayes (Walters State Community College,  TN)

Felicia Hoerner (Marshalltown Community College, IA)

Eric Huynh (East Los Angeles College, CA)

Teri Jones (University of North Georgia)

Yitbarek Kazentet (Georgia Perimeter College)

Deanna Keller (Lake Superior College, MN)

Jessica Kent (Lone Star College System, TX)

Sherine Khanbijian (Fullerton College, CA)

Amir Lavi (Harold Washington College, IL)

Ryan Liu (Pasadena City College, CA)

Meryl Lumboy (Saddleback College,  CA)

Wellington Mackey (SUNY Westchester Community College, NY)

Oscar Martinez (Hartnell College, CA)

Renata Mauriz (County College of Morris, NJ)

Andrew McCrae (Durham Technical Community College, NC)

Karen  Meacham (Tarrant County College, TX)

Patricia Medina (Palm Beach State College, FL)

Xavier  Medina (LaGuardia Community College, NY)

Fidelis Mariae Militante (Montgomery College, MD)

David  Millar (Broward College, FL)

Ebony Nava (Bluegrass Community and Technical College, KY)

Todor  Nikolov (College of the Desert, CA)

Michael Novak (Community College of Philadelphia, PA)

Jonah Okike-Hephzibah (Santa Monica College, CA)

Edgar Okorie  (Chabot Community College, CA)

Sara Osman (Minneapolis Community & Technical College, MN)

Angad Singh Padda (Diablo Valley College, CA)

Eleana Parajon (Miami Dade College, FL)

Rozhin Parvaresh (Georgia Perimeter College, GA)

Suhaily Penix  (Massachusetts Bay Community College, MA)

Nuno Pereira (Union County College, NJ)

Natasha Pineiros (Bergen Community College, NJ)

Daysi Proano (Queensborough Community College, NY)

Brittany Robbins (Miami Dade College, FL)

Brad Roberts (Grayson County College, TX)

Juliana Rodriguez (Seminole State College of Florida)

Ariana Rosario (Lone Star College – Montgomery, TX)

Sebastian Roubert (Seminole State College of Florida)

Silvia Salamone (Queensborough Community College, NY)

Sharalyn Sentinella (Whatcom Community College, WA)

Ursula Simonoski (Mount San Jacinto College, CA)

Jarredd Simpson (Broward College, FL)

Colin Skinner (San Diego Miramar College, CA)

Homero Sosa Mendoza (Phoenix College, AZ)

Bobi Stephenson (Valencia College, FL)

Vesal Stoakley (College of DuPage, IL)

Fizza Sulaiman (Middlesex County College, NJ)

Jorge Torres (Lone Star College – Tomball, TX)

Juan Valdes (Miami Dade College, FL)

Shannon Van Benthuysen (Seminole State College of Florida, FL)

Casey VanAlstyne (Durham Technical Community College, NC)

Luis Veloz (El Centro College, TX)

Maria Vera Alvarez (Northern Virginia Community College)

Nathan Weiss (LaGuardia Community College, NY)

Traci Williams (Community College of Baltimore County, MD)

David Yama (South Seattle College, WA)

Jessie You (Saddleback College, CA)


The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. By offering the largest scholarships in the country, comprehensive counseling and other support services to students from 7th grade to graduate school, the Foundation is dedicated to ensuring high-performing, low-income students have the support necessary to develop their talents and excel educationally. In addition to its scholarship programs, the Foundation provides grants for innovative, high-impact initiatives that benefit such students. By doing so, the Cooke Foundation seeks to use its resources to end the Excellence Gap, the disparity between the number of low and high income students who reach the top levels of academic performance. Founded in 2000, the Foundation has awarded $130 million in scholarships to 1,900 students and over $80 million in grants.