Yueting Chen is the recipient of a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The competitive scholarship—the first of its kind awarded to a Queensborough student—provides up to $30,000 per year to top community college transfer students seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees. It is the largest private scholarship for community college transfer students in the country. Awardees this year included 85 finalists selected from 3,705 applications representing 737 community colleges from across the U.S.
Yueting, who graduated with an Associate degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Queensborough in January 2014 is now a junior at Stony Brook University and among others is conducting research in genetics.
“This wonderful scholarship has crystallized my determination to take my studies and ambitions further than I ever imagined possible.”
Qualified students must demonstrate exceptionally high academic ability (Yueting carried a 3.9 G.P.A.), outstanding achievements, persistence, leadership in the community and financial need.
Several professors were key players in guiding her through the application process, namely her mentors, Drs. Paris Svoronos of the Department of Chemistry, who sparked her interest in the sciences; Emily Tai of the Department of History, who nominated her for the award; and Raji Subramaniam, Department of Biological Sciences and Geology, who wrote a recommendation letter on her behalf.
Yueting came to the U.S. from China in 2009. She worked at a number of odd jobs to help support her family and, despite not knowing any English, enrolled at Queensborough in the fall of 2011. She took English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in the CLIP program and was accepted into the Accelerated Study in Associate Program (ASAP), designed to provide qualified students with the support they need to graduate in a timely manner.
Subsequently, she did well in Calculus and met Dr. Svoronos, who “opened my eyes to the beauty of chemistry as a world of phenomena that occurs in daily life.”
He suggested she take Honors General Chemistry in addition to Calculus I that semester. He encouraged her to take advantage of all available Honors opportunities in Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics at Queensborough Community College. Upon graduation Yueting had completed a total of 32 Honors credits, needing only 12 (and a cumulative GPA of 3.40) to graduate with an Honors certificate.
Dr. Svoronos explained to Yueting that, “sacrifices must be made to succeed in such a competitive field—every evening and each weekend must be devoted to studying, that’s the minimum of what it takes to stand out among your peers.”
“The professors at QCC always expressed their interest in my progress and made me feel like I could excel beyond what I thought I was capable of,” said Yueting, who gave credit to other instructors including Professor James Geasor of the Department of English, who lent many hours assisting her with essay revisions and the complexities of the multi-phased scholarship application process.
In the spring and fall of 2013, Yueting was elected President of the College’s Lambda Sigma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). This was in addition to her also being active in Queensborough’s Chemistry Club.
“Ms. Chen had the skill set of what it takes to be an all-around student: she was involved in the community, a good team player and a natural leader,” said Dr. Tai, who serves as co-advisor, along with Dr. Svoronos, of the Queensborough’s Lambda Sigma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the International Honor Society for two-year college students that solicits nominees for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.
Dr. Tai added, “Our goal is to identify obstacles students face early in their academic career so that we can help students overcome difficulties and take full advantage of the educational support and mentoring that will help them to flourish under even the most difficult conditions.”
Through Dr. Svoronos’ guidance Yueting was awarded two consecutive competitive paid summer internships, one in 2012 on the study of water analysis at the New York City-Department of Environmental Protection (NYC-DEP) and the other in 2013 in the laboratory of Dr. J. Peter Gergen, professor of Biochemistry at Stony Brook University. She presented her findings in a poster form at Columbia University’s Undergraduate Research Symposium in the spring of 2013 and 2014 as well as the American Chemical Society-Northeast Regional Meeting (ACS-NERM) hosted by Yale University in October 2013.
Yueting currently resides in Elmhurst, Queens with her mother and younger sister Yueli Chen, a first-year student at Queensborough, and her older sister, Yueqing Chen, who graduated from Queensborough in December 2012 with an Associate degree in Business Administration. All three sisters are or were members of the ASAP program.
Yueting plans to continue her studies, apply to medical school and ultimately become either a professor or a pediatrician.
Queensborough, established in 1960, is located on a lush 37-acre campus in Bayside, New York. The College offers a rich liberal arts and science curriculum as well as career and pre-professional courses. Comprising one of the most diverse populations of any college in the U.S., over 16,000 students pursue Associate degrees or Certificate programs and another 10,000 students of all ages attend continuing education programs.
The College has several Dual/Joint Degree programs with its sister CUNY institutions: Nursing with Hunter College and York College; Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Sciences with York College; Criminal Justice and Forensic Accounting with John Jay College of Criminal Justice; and Education with Queens College. Over half of the faculty holds doctorates, compared with 21% of faculty in other community colleges nationwide. Queensborough has the distinction of being awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant in the amount of $500,000 and was recently named one of 12 colleges nationwide to lead the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) project—funded by Met Life—to support and expand effective student success strategies at community colleges.
The College’s cultural beacons, The Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives; QCC Art Gallery; and The Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC) continue to bring world-class exhibits, fine art and performances to the entire community and beyond. Other campus highlights include Queensborough’s Observatory, the largest in a college in Queens, which is open to students, faculty, staff and the community.