Four CUNY Community College Students Win Prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships

Four CUNY community college students have won four of the highly competitive Jack Kent Cook Foundation Transfer Scholarships, which pay up to $30,000 a year for up to three years of baccalaureate study. The students – the only students in New York State to win – are among 85 nationwide who were selected from 3,705 applicants representing 737 community colleges in 48 states, two U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country. The scholarship is for low-income community college students who seek to complete a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university. Scholars were selected based on high academic ability and achievements, leadership, and financial need.


“This year’s Jack Kent Cook winners – the most that CUNY has ever had in one year – reflect the wealth of talents of our students and the high caliber of instruction and guidance at our community colleges,” said Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly. Since 2006, CUNY students have captured six of the coveted scholarships; there were two winners in 2012.


The 2014 winners are:


Peishan (K.C.) Chen (Kingsborough Community College) – Graduating with a degree in physics, but having conducted research in organic chemistry aimed at finding green alternatives to experiments with toxic chemicals commonly presented in Kingsborough classrooms, this immigrant from southern China intends to secure a doctorate and become a forensic chemist in a medical examiner’s office. “Evidence never lies, not like a human being,” she says. For her bachelor’s degree, she has been accepted by Smith College and SUNY Stony Brook and is waiting to hear from other top-tier colleges. She attended Kingsborough with the support of state and federal aid, and has tutored nursing students in basic math, chemistry and physics. “I love the idea of contributing back to America,” she says.
Yueting Chen (Queensborough Community College) – A 2013 Queensborough graduate, Yueting Chen (no relation to Peishan Chen) is working on her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at SUNY Stony Brook. She applied there after a summer internship where she studied the impact of a particular gene on heart development in fruit flies, and she is now involved in further genetic research. Arriving in the United States from China four years ago, after a year in college there majoring in English (but with little emphasis on speaking), she enrolled in the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP). That led her into CUNY’s ASAP (Accelerated Study in Associate Programs) program, which has had marked success in helping students graduate from community college within three years. Her older sister also graduated from Queensborough, and her younger sister is following her footsteps in the Queensborough ASAP program.
Rachel Lazar (Kingsborough Community College) – Although she started college with a GED, Rachel Lazar will graduate from Kingsborough with a perfect 4.0 GPA and made a presentation on the psychology of “The Little Mermaid” at the Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference. She intends to become a psychologist or psychiatrist. Before Kingsborough, “I didn’t realize my thirst for knowledge. I didn’t realize I could do the work.” She singled out the professors in Kingsborough’s honors program for the faith they put in her and the help they gave her to succeed. She has been accepted at Fordham University and is waiting to hear from other colleges before deciding where to pursue her baccalaureate degree.
Cristina Mihailescu (LaGuardia Community College) – Having come to the United States after escaping the repression of communist Romania, Cristina Mihailescu, now 40, put off her education to start her family until LaGuardia offered her a way to do it all at an affordable price.

Echoing the words of other Jack Kent Cooke winners, Mihailescu called the award “a miracle. Besides lifting the financial burden, it opens the door to so many opportunities. One year ago I was struggling financially, making it semester to semester, taking the minimum 12 credits to be a full-time student because of the financial burden. Now I feel reborn and can start dreaming and dreaming big.”



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