Local Student Receive Nation’s Largest Scholarship for Community College Students

Tish Jack Kent Cooke
Dr. Joanne Russell; Eleanor H. Weseloh; Dr. Alice Savage;
Dr. Jonathan M. Daube; Latisha Wilson; Stephania Davis;
Angelo Messore; Dr. Michael Rooke; Marcia Jehnings

Manchester, CT – (April 27, 2006) . . . Latisha (Tish) Wilson, of Hartford began work at 14, lived on her own since 16 and took time away from her own start of college to rescue a younger sister caught in a worsening family situation. Now, with her sister doing well professionally and her mother drug-free, Wilson says “it’s my turn to follow my dreams.” With that proclamation, she has excelled at Manchester Community College and is a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship, the nation’s largest and most competitive scholarship fund available to undergraduate students in America.

For the third year in a row, an MCC student has been recognized by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which sponsors the nation’s largest scholarships for community college students transferring to a baccalaureate institution to complete their bachelor’s degree. The amount and duration of the scholarships will vary by student based on the cost of attendance or grants received, but the awards can total up to $30,000 per year for each student.

Wilson grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and currently lives in Hartford. She is a communications/journalism major planning to graduate in May, and is aiming high, to become a reporter-journalist emulating Oprah Winfrey.

She wants to educate and entertain but also “tell news stories that inspire people to become better human beings.” Her professors say she already has accomplished so much in learning to support herself as a young teenager, in setting her own goals and pushing toward them despite a chaotic and damaging home life. She does well academically but also has found her calling in editing the campus paper, using it to help others remedy wrongs and educating herself about grass roots democracy. As an individual, she regrets her past apathy for politics and as a journalist; she vows to “do my part to get more people involved in the political process.”

In addition to being editor of the Live Wire, Wilson is an intern in the state legislature and participated in the Smith College summer program. Wilson intends to pursue her bachelor’s degree in journalism at New York University or Smith College.

The scholarships are another step in the Cooke Foundation’s effort to increase access to the best two-year college students to complete their four-year degrees. Specifically, the Foundation has selected 38 students to receive this competitive scholarship.

The Undergraduate Transfer scholarship recipients come from 17 states and eight foreign nations, including Belarus, Vietnam, Ecuador, Jamaica, Palestine, Bhutan, Romania and China. They were selected from among 676 nominees from approximately 438 community or two-year colleges nationwide.

The Scholars were selected by the Foundation with assistance from a national panel of experts. Selection criteria include academic excellence, financial need, will to succeed, leadership ability, service to others, and interest in or appreciation for the arts.

“The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation was founded to support high achieving students with financial need,” said Matthew J. Quinn, the Foundation’s executive director. “We hope these scholarships will allow the students the opportunity to fulfill their educational goals and become the individuals they aspire to be.”

“The transfer scholarship programs provided by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation continue to set the bar, both for their generosity and their impact. The scholarships not only allow promising community college students to pursue their academic dreams without financial barriers, but they also make a statement about the tremendous pool of talent transfer students from two-year institutions represent,” said Dr. George R. Boggs, President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Community colleges continue to grow and now enroll 46% of all undergraduates in the United States, including the majority of low- to moderate-income students, according to statistics from the AACC. Currently there are 6.6 million students who attend U.S. community colleges for credit.

Of the 38 Scholars, more than half (21) are members of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges.

The 38 nominees bring to 199 the number of students who have received the undergraduate scholarships since the Foundation first offered them in 2002. The program offers support for tuition, room and board, books, and other required fees for the remainder of the Scholars’ bachelor’s degree, generally two or three years.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke to help young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. It focuses in particular on students with financial need. Besides the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Program, the Foundation’s programs also include scholarships to graduate and high school students, and grants to organizations that serve high-achieving students with financial need. www.jackkentcookefoundation.org

Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The College offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.