Students semifinalists for transfer scholarships

Four Richland students were named semifinalists for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke (JKC) Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Jack Kent Cooke is the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country. The foundation provides awards worth up to $40,000 to each recipient per year. It covers the student’s educational expenses, including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees for the final two or three years needed to achieve a bachelor’s degree.

What makes JKC one of the most competitive scholarships is that only 45 scholarships are awarded annually from a pool of applicants from all over the country. This year, Richland is honored to have Aysegul Ates, Bryan Akahara, Desmond Ugonna Orgazi and Tamara Mambo among the scholarship semifinalists.

Semifinalists for the JKC Scholarship- (left) Bryan Akahara, (center) Aysegul Ates and (right) Desmond Orgazi.

Semifinalists for the JKC Scholarship- (left) Bryan Akahara, (center) Aysegul Ates and (right) Desmond Orgazi.

Akahara has attended Richland for two years. He intends to transfer to a four-year university where he plans to major in biology as a pre-med student by the Fall 2018 semester. His first transfer choice right now is the University of Texas at Austin.

“The JKC is an incredible opportunity. It would greatly lessen not only the financial stress I endure as a college student but generally, I feel like it would ease the stress a whole lot,” Akahara said. “More than anything, I was shocked when I received the email. Words cannot begin to describe the awe I was in, but more importantly, I was grateful.”

Applicants for scholarships must be a current student at an accredited U.S. community college or two-year institution with sophomore status and have a minimum of 3.5 GPA. They also must plan to enroll full time in a baccalaureate program at an accredited college or university in the term that the scholarships are awarded. JKC scholarships are also open to international students.

One of the most common things among Richland semifinalists is they are members of several programs, such as the Honors Program, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) and other activities on campus. The selection process is largely based on students’ involvement in leadership and service to others. The students’ academic ability, financial need and persistence are also important criteria to be considered for the scholarship.

“The JKC Foundation is giving a huge amount of money. They want to see that you are working for it,” said Ates, a Richland international student from Turkey and one of the semifinalists for the scholarship.

Although English is not her first language, Ates is president of the Honors Student Organization and the founding president of the Richland College Honors Alumni Advisory Board. She hopes to transfer to Southern Methodist University and double major in finance and management information systems. Many international students feel less confident because of the language barrier, but they have as many opportunities as native students.

Orgazi is an international student from Nigeria. He applied for JKC because he believes that he has worked very hard at Richland and this will set him apart from other students.

“I would say that being listed as one of the semifinalists for this scholarship is one of my biggest accomplishments. This recognition has moved me one step closer to becoming one of the finalists,” he said. Orgazi hopes to attend Johns Hopkins University in Maryland by the fall of 2018 to complete a bachelor’s degree in biology and pursue his career goal as a medical doctor.

The Jack Kent Cooke scholarship is very competitive. Whether one wins it or not, being a semifinalist is an honor and it opens up opportunities for students transferring and for  other scholarships.

“It is more than just about the money, but more about the network of people that it creates,” said Mambo, another semifinalist.

“I applied for this scholarship because I believe it will open up a realm of possibilities that will bring me one step closer to achieving my dreams. I will have the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things from a diverse community.”

Mambo is a sophomore currently working on an associate degree in science with a concentration in business at Richland as a sophomore. She is applying for admission to the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at Dallas and Southern Methodist University to pursue an actuarial science major.

`The Jack Kent Cooke scholarship Fall 2018 finalists will be named in April.