Full Transcript: Cooke Scholar Introduces President Barack Obama

Today Jack Kent Cooke Foundation former Young Scholar and current College Scholar Chionque Mines had the honor of introducing President Barack Obama at the White House Summit on College Opportunity. She shared a moving account of overcoming family challenges while growing up in a violence- and drug-stricken neighborhood in Philadelphia and described the help she received from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation on her path to becoming a successful student at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.


You can read Chionque’s inspirational remarks below and watch her introduction and President Obama’s speech here.

“Yesterday, Y-E-S-T-E-R-D-A-Y, yesterday. This was the first word I was taught to spell by my late grandmother, who raised myself and two siblings in a rough, drug infested and violence stricken neighborhood in North Philadelphia. At the time, my grandmother struggled with substance abuse and while she and my grandfather tried to provide an acceptable home for us in a small apartment, it was clear to me, even at age six that the life I was living was a life set up for failure. My grandmother’s substance abuse affected me in many ways, but one way in particular was it played a part in me beginning school a year late. Having a young mother and an absent father, somehow school was pushed back for me, but it did not hold me back as my grandmother made sure I’ve always been ahead of the game, teaching me the basics before entering kindergarten.

As a young girl, I thought about college but it was not until attending KIPP Philadelphia, where my principal visited my overcrowded home to tell me face to face college was going to happen for me. Then the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation chose to fund my education and matched me with educational advisers who helped me to focus on my goals and interests. Making a list of colleges to apply to, filling out the applications, and visiting colleges, was extremely difficult to do – full of anxiety and doubt. When I embarked on this journey, I had no idea where it would take me, yet, all my worries subsided when I decided to dedicate 4 years to Goucher College.

Being at Goucher College for 4 years is the longest I’ve ever been at one school. It has been one of the most rewarding times of my life as I have been able to make and keep friends, be involved in the community–campus wide and the greater Baltimore area– and study abroad in Australia for a semester. Today I’m here to say after all of the tears, stress, and doubt that college is worth it. It is an honor to not only tell you all (the audience) that it is worth it, but to tell all those students who are the first in their family to go to college, like me, that it is worth it. I would like to proudly and genuinely thank President Barack Obama, along with all of you, for making the commitment to students to get them to and through college successfully. Thank you for committing to making college more affordable for generations to come, for raising awareness about the needs for college counseling, and for encouraging colleges to support students all the way through graduation.

Please help me in welcoming President Barack Obama. Thank you.”