May 2020 Monthly Newsletter

Scholars Weekend 2019

May 28, 2020Receive the Cooke Chronicle each month in your inbox: Subscribe here.

May is among my favorite months – a moment to celebrate the accomplishments of so many young people, and their families. Of course, this year looks different. But, a global pandemic isn’t keeping us from honoring the class of 2020 and the incredible scholars that make up the Cooke community.

This month, our team has been busy joining virtual graduations and celebrations for our scholar community. We hosted a virtual College Signing Day where nearly 70 Cooke Young Scholars committed to attend a wide range of amazing academic institutions, including Yale University, Princeton University, Brown University, and Columbia University. It was great to be able to bring together our educational advisers, alumni, and, of course, our graduating “Cohort 15” class of Cooke Young Scholars, who were able to share the college where they will be spending their next four years.

We are also celebrating the graduation of Cooke Scholars from prestigious undergraduate and graduate programs across the country. They are all finishing the year strong, and we’re excited for the future ahead of them, even during these unconventional times.

I’m proud of the accomplishments of Cooke Scholars, including Zac Smith, who is graduating from the University of Arkansas with a degree in International Business. While at college, Zac was able to travel the globe to participate in a variety of internship experiences, including working at a bean-to-bar chocolate company in Tanzania, and at the USAID Bureau for Africa in nearby Washington, D.C. Zac will continue his education next year as a Silver Scholar at the Yale School of Management, where he will pursue an MBA with a focus on social entrepreneurship with the help of the Cooke Graduate Award. 

Amie Croteau is a 2018 Cooke Scholar who is graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Information Sciences and Technology. Amie’s commitment to learning has been evident throughout her time at Penn State–participating in coding competitions, hackathons, and valuable internships to set herself up for a successful career.  After graduation, she’ll begin working as a Software Engineer Associate at Lockheed Martin. 

While we are celebrating our scholars’ accomplishments, we were saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Mr. Stuart Haney, one of our charter board members. Stuart delighted in spending time with Cooke Scholars – whether he was discussing their academic interests or their personal ambitions. He was always inspired by the character of Cooke Scholars, and I know would be so proud of the class of 2020.

While the path ahead seems uncertain as I write, we are excited to follow the ways in which Cooke Scholars will put their education to use, and how they will contribute in smart, thoughtful ways to making this world a better place. Our graduating scholars join an alumni community of entrepreneurs, policymakers, artists, scientists, and individuals eager to use their talents to make an impact on the world. Whatever the next steps may be, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will continue to support them as they embark on their journey! 

Seppy Basili

News for High-Achieving Students:

This year, the number of students who have returned FAFSA applications has taken a sharp decline, with 350,000 less students renewing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid than at this time last year. In Pennsylvania, for example, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on a 9 percent overall drop in applications statewide. 

Across the country, many high schools are grappling with how to issue grades in a way that is fair to all students. In Montgomery County, Maryland, WAMU highlights parent concerns that eliminating a letter grade system could demotivate high achieving students. One parent said, “Universal pass-fail seems like it would disincentivize student effort and disenfranchise MCPS students versus the surrounding districts and private schools.”

New data from New York City’s gifted and talented education program shows an uneven distribution of students who are screened for highly competitive gifted and talented programs across different boroughs of the city.  This new data has prompted calls for reform, including by the New York Daily News editorial board. 

Cooke Foundation Highlights:

Local papers around the country have highlighted newly announced Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars, including features in The Boca Raton TribuneThe Orlando SentinelThe Cleveland Daily Banner, El Reno Tribune, Tulsa World and the Monroe Journal.

Two recently named Cooke College scholars from Georgia were highlighted in the Gwinnett Daily Post.

What We’re Reading:

Washington Post-Notre Dame vs. Princeton: Two very different approaches on when and how to reopen college during covid-19 (5/22/20)

ChalkbeatPandemic teaching: How one award-winning Illinois teacher has adapted to remote learning (5/14/20)

NBC News-With higher ed in limbo, students are switching to community colleges (5/20/20)

Inside Higher EdCommon App Adds Question on COVID-19 (5/13/20)