Oceanside CA— Three MiraCosta College students have been selected to receive the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship that pays up to $40,000 for tuition, books, and housing annually for up to three years, while they secure their bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.
Julie Hernandez, Vanessa Newman, and Nhi Tran are among a select group of scholarship recipients chosen from a pool of nearly 1,500 applicants attending 369 schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia. The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is reserved for the nation’s top community college students who are selected based on exceptional academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, service to others, and leadership.
“All of us at MiraCosta College are so very proud of Julie, Vanessa, and Nhi for earning the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer scholar award,” said MiraCosta College Superintendent/President Sunita “Sunny” Cooke. “They represent the best of MiraCosta College and its dedication to excellence. The individualized and holistic support that students receive empowers them to exceed their own expectations. We wish them continued success.”
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced the 2019 undergraduate transfer scholars on Wednesday. Among them:Julie Hernandez, who in 2017 was named California State Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of America, is being raised by a single mother who has had to work two or three jobs at a time as a nurse to make ends meet. Graduating May 24 with an associate degree in chemistry, she has already been accepted to UC Berkeley and UC Irvine, but is waiting to hear next month if she’ll be going to Stanford University in the fall en route to a Ph.D. program in chemistry and a future in medical research. She said the scholarship lifts a cloud of financial uncertainty. Although she has earned several scholarships to date, including $5,000 for being named California State Youth of the Year, but they weren’t nearly enough to pay for one semester at a university. “I was really worried about having to take out loans, going into debt, and working all the time to continue my education, so this scholarship is a huge relief,” said Hernandez.
Vanessa Newman, an active member of the MiraCosta College Honors Scholar program and is a straight-A student graduating in May with an associate degree in liberal arts: social and behavioral science. She has already been accepted to UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, but is waiting to hear from Columbia University, USC, UCLA, and UC San Diego. Her goal is to focus on public policy research and work for the United Nations, preferably with the World Health Organization or the United Nations Children’s Fund. She credits the people and resources at MiraCosta College for helping her secure the Cooke scholarship.
“Ever since coming here, I’ve felt like the staff, from the people at the front desk to the professors in the classroom, have a personal interest in seeing you do well,” she said.
Nhi Tran also plans on moving north to continue her studies. A first-generation college student, Tran is aiming to attend to UC Berkeley for a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and perhaps find a future as a pharmacist. Nhi currently serves as president of the Chemistry Club and is a member of the PTK Alpha Chi Lambda Chapter, the International Club, and the Natural Science Club at MiraCosta College. She also served with Associated Student Government as a senator for one year, and she remains busy with her jobs as a chemistry, physics, and math tutor for the STEM Center and the Math Learning Center, and as an International Peer Leader. These jobs and activities, she said, have strengthened her leadership skills and allowed her to help other students reach their goals.
This marks the third straight year multiple MiraCosta College students were awarded the coveted scholarships. The scholarship is awarded by the private, independent Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students with financial need. Eight MiraCosta College students in all have earned the scholarship since 2017.
“This scholarship is creating so many opportunities for me,” said Newman. “Without it, I don’t know how I’d be able to pursue my bachelor’s degree, let alone a master’s degree.”