Lucia Barberena and Carlin Taylor, both students at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, were named 2022 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars. They are two of only three students in Mississippi to receive the honor.
“We are proud to have two Jack Kent Cooke Scholars come from MGCCC,” said Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC president. “Our students are provided with numerous opportunities to participate in scholarly and service-based organizations that enhance their leadership skills. These two students embraced those opportunities, excelled in rigorous courses, and I know they will continue to strive to be outstanding in their future endeavors.”
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation named 100 high-achieving community college students as recipients of the prestigious scholarship. The highly competitive national scholarship provides transfer students with up to $55,000 a year to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
This year, more than 1,200 students from 332 community colleges applied to receive the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Foundation evaluated each submission based on students’ academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, and leadership.
Barberena of Ocean Springs was also named to the All-Mississippi and All-USA Academic Team and is a New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar. She was one of only 20 college students in the nation to be named to the prestigious All-USA Academic Team and was the only student in the state to be named a New Century Transfer Scholar.
“Winning the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship is life-changing for me,” Barberena said. “Without the scholarship, I would not be able to study out of state or even finish my bachelor’s degree debt-free. I cannot thank my Phi Theta Kappa advisors enough for everything they have done for me. No matter where I go, I will always be MGCCC proud!”
Taylor of Gulfport was also named a 2022 Guistwhite Scholar. He is one of only 15 in the nation selected for the scholarship and the only one in Mississippi.
“Becoming a Cooke scholar is one of my largest accomplishments yet,” Taylor said. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends, and the amazing faculty at MGCCC who helped me take advantage of this opportunity. Knowing that my dreams are now in reach without financial struggle and without restriction is a situation I’m very proud to be in!”
In the 2020-21 academic year, four-year colleges and universities saw nearly 200,000 fewer transfer enrollment applications nationwide, reflecting the pandemic’s disruptive effect on students and their plans for college. Despite that decline, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation welcomed its largest class of Scholars to date, highlighting the talent and achievement of hundreds of community college students across the country. In light of growing financial hardship for so many families, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation also increased the maximum award amount by an extra $15,000 to ensure students can focus on their studies while enrolled.
“Today, almost half of all college students begin their academic career at a community college. We know our community colleges are full of high-achieving students, and we’re committed to playing our part to ensure those students succeed,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “Congratulations to a cohort of students who have persisted in the midst of such unprecedented disruptions in our lives. We welcome you into our community and look forward to learning alongside you.”
New Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year college and preparing for their careers. Scholars will also receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, graduate school funding, and connection to a thriving network of Cooke scholars and alumni.