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Three Essex County College students have been selected as 2020 semifinalists for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The scholarship carries an award of $120,000 for three years at a four-year college or university.
This year’s semifinalists are Manav Guzraty (Clifton), Mohammed Hussein (Newark) and Ashma Thomas (East Orange).
They were selected from a pool of nearly 1,500 applicants attending 311 community colleges nationwide. The Foundation selected 456 semifinalists from across the country. The recipients of the $120,000 scholarships will be announced in April.
“Congratulations to our semi-finalists, this is tremendous news,” said Essex County College’s President, Dr. Anthony E. Munroe. “This is another shining example of both the quality of the education we provide at Essex County College and certainly the dedication and drive of our students.”
Since 2006, Essex County College has had 17 Cooke Foundation recipients, more than any other community college in New Jersey and New York.
“The success of our students would not be possible without the work of our faculty,” said Dr. Ladylease White, Founder and Director of the College’s Honors Program. She serves as the College’s liaison with the Foundation.
Manav, an Engineering major, said he was in the College library when he saw the email informing him he was a Cooke semi-finalist. “There was silence in the room and I let out a yell; I got more than a few stares,” he recalled with a laugh. “Getting this far means a lot to me and I am very grateful for the love and support that I have received from everyone at ECC,” said Manav. “I believe that this is the beginning of an exciting journey to inspire STEM aspirants and to passionately pursue my dream of becoming an aerospace engineer.” Georgia Tech tops his transfer list.
Mohammed, a Biology, a Pre-Medicine major and President of the College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society – Alpha Theta Theta Chapter – said, “This is proof that hard work pays off. When I applied for the scholarship, I gave it my best shot, and I prayed. This means so much to me.” He acknowledged, “It was surprising at first.” Mohammed’s top transfer choice is Johns Hopkins University.
Ashma, also a Biology, Pre-Medicine major, was working at the Alpha Theta Theta Spring Book Sale when she saw the email informing her of the good news. She let out a yell and told Mohammed, who was standing next to her, to check his email as well. And he saw the same message.
“I think getting this far means that I’ve worked hard and been involved to be recognized by a national organization,” said Ashma, who is the chapter’s Corresponding Secretary. “It gives me great pride and motivation to move forward.” She hopes to transfer to Cornell University after graduating from Essex County College.
“Year after year, we are impressed by the incredible talent and resolve of community college students,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “We are proud to recognize this outstanding group of semifinalists for their academic achievement.”