Students in the front, from left: Silvia Huerta and Sofia Medina.
Behind them, from left: Biology Professor Scott Mittman, Biology Instructor Lynn Wilson, Biology Professor Jeffrey Lee, President Gale E. Gibson, Associate Dean of Student Life & Development Patricia Slade, Acting Executive Dean of Student Development Susan Mulligan, and Humanities Professor David Berry

Two ECC students are the recipients of the prestigious 2014 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship, worth $30,000 annually for up to three years. Sophomores Silvia Huerta and Sofia Medina are this year’s scholarship recipients, the 10th and 11th in ECC history. The College is also the only two-year institution to have eight Foundation recipients in three years.


This year the Foundation is awarding 85 transfer scholarships to community college graduates.


Both Silvia and Sofia are Biology, Pre-Medicine majors and each is interested in pursuing medical careers. They received the wonderful news Wednesday, April 9 amid a sea of congratulatory balloons and floral bouquets from President Gale E. Gibson who came into their Physics 104 class.


“We are so proud of the way you represent us with such a magnificent accomplishment,” Dr. Gibson said as the students’ classmates, Professor Maria Rozak, and several other faculty members and administrators applauded. President Gibson also credited the faculty in mentoring the students to help them achieve the honor.


“It’s hard to describe how I feel right now, it’s so surreal,” said an emotional and tearful Sofia, who came to this country from Ecuador nearly 14 years ago. “I am really thankful for Essex County College and all the people here who have treated me like a member of their family.” Sofia – who lives in Bayonne – is interested in transferring to NYU, Brown or the University of Pennsylvania.


An equally emotional Silvia (who was born in Mexico and has also lived in the United States for nearly 14 years) said, “I feel very lucky. There are so many other students in the Honors Program who deserve this honor as much as I, maybe even more.” She is looking at Brown and Johns Hopkins for transfer opportunities.


Like Silvia, Sofia is in the College’s highly selective Honors Program. Sofia’s goal is to become a doctor with a global emphasis in which she would work in medically underserved countries. Silvia, a Perth Amboy resident, said she would also like to serve people in underprivileged countries. “So many people die because they don’t receive the proper medical attention on time.”


Founded in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke, a prominent businessman, sportsman and philanthropist, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. For the past 14 years, the Foundation has awarded well over $100 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 students.


ECC’s first Jack Kent Cooke awardee was Jose Medina (Sofia’s brother) in 2006. In 2008, David Kariuki and Bertheleau Ngakam also earned the scholarships. 2012’s recipients were Renata Martin, Carla Alvarez-Valverde and Emanuel Martinez. Kamika Bennett, Karolina Caravelli-Campos, and Diego Cruz-Burbano earned the scholarship last year.

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