Cooke Foundation Awards 94 New Recipients the Nation’s Most Generous College Scholarship

LANSDOWNE, VA – The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announces today its 2015 class of College Scholars, 94 of the brightest and most promising high school seniors from across the country who have unmet financial need. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program is one of the most competitive programs in the nation, as well as the most generous. Each Cooke Scholar will receive up to $40,000 per year for four years of study at an accredited college or university, and automatically becomes eligible for a $50,000 per year Cooke Graduate Scholarship.

“The academic and extracurricular accomplishments this group has demonstrated are absolutely remarkable,” said Executive Director Harold O. Levy. “They exemplify the qualities the Cooke Foundation values: persistence, determination, a love of learning, and a desire to help others. We have high hopes for each Cooke Scholar, and we also commend all of the high-achieving students who applied.”

This year’s College Scholars boast impressive academic credentials: they have an average high school grade point average of 3.86 (on a 4.0 scale), excellent standardized test scores and strong teacher recommendations. Almost all have won academic awards during their high school careers and have participated in civic or community service.

Consistent with the Cooke Foundation’s goal of helping exceptionally promising students with financial need, all come from families with very modest means. The average family income for this year’s College Scholars is $33,168, and 41 percent will be the first in their families to attend college. They will be attending the most competitive colleges and universities in the nation such as Amherst College, Cornell University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Yale University.

This year the Cooke Foundation received 1,814 qualified applications for the scholarship from all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Forty-four of this year’s recipients are currently in the Cooke Foundation’s Young Scholars Program, while the remaining 50 were selected from a very competitive external pool of applicants from around the nation.

Fifty-seven percent of this year’s College Scholars came from the south; Florida and Texas were the states with the most scholars with nine each. Houston had five scholars, the most for any single city.

College Scholars were chosen based on their exceptional academic ability and achievement, unmet financial need, persistence, service to others, and leadership. An independent panel of college admissions officers selected students based on a careful review of their academic transcripts, standardized test scores, teacher recommendations, and self-assessments, and essays.

The following is a complete list of students selected for the 2015 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program, their current address and the colleges that they will be attending in the fall:

Carolina Andrada (Panama City, FL) Johns Hopkins University
Diana Andrade (Oklahoma City, OK) Kenyon College
Michelle Arnold (Medford, NY) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Jose Balcazar (Miami, FL) Davidson College
Melanie Barrios (Playa Del Rey, CA) Barnard College
Eric Baxley (Gaston, SC) University of South Carolina Honors College
Lidwina Bell (Washington, DC) Brown University
Hanna Berhane (Rockville, MD) Princeton University
Isabella Berkley (Andover, MD) Amherst College
Jared Bitz (Sioux Falls, SD) Stanford University
Maxwell Blankenship (Shelby, NC) North Carolina State University
Alex Frances Buranday (Nogales, AZ) University of San Diego
Amanda Burcroff (Beverly Hills, MI) University of Michigan
Iris Carbonel-Estepan (Brighton, MA) New York University
Liam Carpenter-Urquhart (Tucson, AZ) Brown University
Alexandra Carrington (Falmouth, ME) Wellesley College
Siven Chinniah (Camp Hill, PA) Temple University
Veronica Chiu (Lexington, SC) Emory University, Oxford College
Roberto Claure (Arlington, VA) University of Miami
Sheridan Clayborne (Highland Park, IL) Northwestern University
Grace Creelman (Burlington, WA) Whittier College
Nicholas Curtis (Fishers, IN) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Victoria Davidjohn (Lynchburg, VA) Princeton University
Tarek Deida (Pleasant Hill, NC) Columbia University
Janet Diaz (Fort Worth, TX) Stanford University
Katherine Diaz (Arlington, VA) Carnegie Mellon University
Mayda Diaz (Houston, TX) University of Pennsylvania
Gloria Ferry-Brennan (Langley, WA) Curtis Institute of Music
Brittany Fischer (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) University of Florida
Ashlyn Frahm (Montz, LA) Harvard University
Alexus Fraser (Millington, TN) Princeton University
Abagail Furry (Sanford, NC) University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Mitchell Gant (Stone Mountain, GA) Georgia Institute of Technology
Dawit Gebre (Lithonia, GA) Stanford University
Julia Gensheimer (Bowling Green, KY) Emory University
Nicholas Gonzales (Freeport, MI) University of Chicago
Frances Mari Grimaldo (Orofino, ID) University of Southern California, Berkeley
Briana Grubb (Carlsbad, CA) University of Southern California
Isaac Guerrero (Brooklyn, NY) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nayely Gutierrez (Houston, TX) University of Southern California
Helen Harrison (Woodstock, VA) Guilford College
Nicholas Hartman (Tulsa, OK) Duke University
Makayla Haussler (Lincoln, NE) Yale University
Jocelyn Hernandez (San Antonio, TX) Harvard University
Beatrice Hociota (Bellbrook, OH) Georgetown University
Tashrima Hossain (Houston, TX) Stanford University
Jesse Isenberg (Indiana, PA) Penn State University, University Park
Emily Janis (Kyle, SD) South Dakota State
Adhitya Jayasinghe (Irving, TX) Lehigh University
Robert  Kancans (White Bear Lake, MN) University of Southern California
Kathryn Kasky (Belen, NM) Baylor University
Kristy Kim (New Smyrna Beach, FL) Yale University
Madeline Kroot (Bethel, CT) Dartmouth College
Victor LaBozzetta (Selden, NY) Eastman School of Music
Logan Lawrence (Arlington, TX) Rice University
Kevin Le (Houston, TX) University of Texas at Austin
Jesse Ledesma (Cockeysville, MD) University of Maryland, College Park
Jacob Lisner (Newport, VT) Princeton University
Xiangyang Liu (Los Angeles, CA) Harvard University
Ravyn Malatesta (Silver Spring, MD) Lewis & Clark College
Madelaine Maloney (Cashtown, PA) New York University
Daven McQueen (Torrance, CA) Brown University
Puneeth Meruva (Fort Wayne, IN) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Khayln Miller (Dayton, OH) Case Western Reserve University
Marina Mozak (Bath, ME) Drew University
Patrizio Murdocca (Venice, FL) Vanderbilt University
Minh Nguyen (Portland, OR) Yale University
Colter Norick (Columbia Falls, MT) Duke University
Samira Okudo (Gaithersburg, MD) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Giselle Olivera (Staunton, VA) Mary Baldwin College
Jean Carlo Pacheco (Kissimmee, FL) University of Florida
Oscar Perales (Houston, TX) Yale University
Magdalene Pizzo (Lakewood, OH) Dartmouth College
Michael Riera (Newark, NJ) Columbia University
Andreas Robertson (Silver Spring, MD) Georgia Institute of Technology
Jesus Rodriguez (Orlando, FL) Georgetown University
Daniella Royer (Tulsa, OK) University of Oklahoma
Emmanuel Sanchez (Green Bay, WI) University of Minnesota
Paul Serrato (Winder, GA) Stanford University
Dain Song (Sugar Hill, GA) Yale University
Chelsea Southworth (Lexington, KY) Duke University
Chuang Tang (Little Rock, AR) Yale University
Katie Taylor (Monticello, AR) Duke University
Courtney Thurston (Mechanicsburg, PA) Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Tho Tran (Annandale, VA) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Enxin Wan (Herndon, VA) Harvard University
Gary Wang (Winter Haven, FL) Washington University in St. Louis
Xin Wen (Lawrence, MA) Cornell University
Branden West (Pleasanton, CA) University of Southern California, Berkeley
Christian Willick (Elm Grove, WI) Martin Luther College
Auriel Wright (Macon, GA) Harvard University
Yae Eun Yang (Brentwood, TN) Johns Hopkins University
Natalie Zatz (Vero Beach, FL) Yale University
Min Zhong (Arlington, VA) Swarthmore College


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.