Cooke Scholar Sagar Chapagain is a first-generation college student who began his undergraduate studies at a community college. Despite academic honors and graduating with two associate degrees, he believed a four-year college was not a possibility due to the cost of attendance. Then, he decided to apply to be a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholar.
“In 2012, if somebody would say to me that I would be a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, that I would go to an Ivy League school with a full scholarship, that I would graduate at the top of my Community College and give a speech in front of 7,500 people, I would say that must be a good joke,” Sagar said. “Everything happened and I graduated and here I am today.”
Sagar said his community college advisers played a big role in his success, which landed him a spot at Cornell where he majors in biology.
“My advisers, they kept pushing me, they said that you have to do better,” Sagar said. “You have to go to a school outside of Maryland, you have to go to one of those elite schools. Because that’s where you will get good education, and you will meet people who are different than you or who have different ideas and you will grow a lot as a person.”
Sagar has always been fascinated with medicine and science, and has done neuroscience research for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“I had this fire inside my belly, this passion, this desire that if I keep working hard someday something awesome is going to happen to me.”