Jack Kent Cooke Foundation names four TCC students semifinalists for $40,000 scholarship  

Tarrant County College students Autumn Henry, Migchalee Gonzalez, Rigo Gonzalez and Dezirae Rodriguez have been named semifinalists for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, an extremely competitive scholarship requiring academic excellence and hard work.

The scholarship is a highly selective honor for the top students attending community colleges across the nation. It is designed for students who have achieved strong academic success and are in need of financial support. The scholarship allows community college students to transfer to a four-year university to complete their bachelor’s degree in any field of study.

Winners can receive up to $40,000 per year, which will cover the cost of tuition, books, living expenses and other fees at their desired university. The students will also have a personal adviser who will help them navigate the financial aid process at their select university.

A first-generation college student and mother of two, Autumn Henry is on pace to graduate this May with an associate degree in mental health and human services from TCC South. This non-traditional student plans to enroll at Texas Christian University or the University of Texas at Arlington-Fort Worth, majoring in social work with a minor in substance abuse.

“The thought of continuing my education is pretty fearful without the support of a scholarship; however, becoming a Jack Kent Cooke scholar would be a humbling experience and continue to allow me to make a difference in the world and show my daughters that education is important,” Henry said. She wants to begin her career as Licensed Social Worker for a school district. Her ultimate dream is to launch her own non-profit organization to offer pro bono services to families in need.

Migchalee Gonzalez, a political science major, says TCC was the ideal choice to begin her educational journey. “Tarrant County College offers exceptional education at prices that fit my budget while allowing me to still be close to home,” she said.  This fall, Gonzalez plans to enroll at the University of North Texas in Denton, where she will major in political science and minor in international relations. Ultimately, she plans to attend law school in Seattle.

“Growing up, my family did not have the luxury to save up money for my sister and I go to college,” said Gonzalez, a political science major studying at TCC Southeast. “Receiving the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship would entirely rewrite the future for me and give me the chance to achieve my goals.”

Dezirae Rodriguez, a sign language interpreting major attending TCC Trinity River, is still undecided on which school she will attend this fall. “I’ve always said I would go to the school where I can get the most scholarships, but if money weren’t a concern, I would select the University of Texas at Austin to study Speech/Language Pathology.”

Her immediate goal after graduation is to become a certified interpreter and work as community interpreter while attending college. Although she’s looking forward to forming connections with forward-thinking students from across the country, Rodriguez is most proud of one person following in her footsteps at TCC—her mother. Dezirae’s mother decided to enroll as a degree-seeking student at TCC after witnessing her daughter’s accomplishments.

TCC South’s Rigo Gonzalez, a business major and vice president of the Student Government Association, is excited about this opportunity. “If I am chosen to receive this scholarship it will help me by financing my education at a prestigious university. I am currently working full-time and this scholarship would provide me with the opportunity to focus solely on education.” This proud first-generation student plans to transfer to Texas Christian University in the fall, where he will double major in Accounting and Finance. After working for a firm to gain critical experience, Gonzalez plans to open his own business in the Fort Worth community.

This year’s 406 semifinalists were chosen from a pool of more than 1,500 applicants attending 398 community colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia. The main eligibility requirements are to be a community college sophomore in the fall with a minimum 3.5 GPA and require financial support. The award is presented the following year.

“The research is clear: our community colleges are full of talented students with a diversity of experiences that contribute to their educational journey. We see this in our applicant pool every year, and are excited to recognize this group of semifinalists for their academic achievements,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “We are especially impressed by the incredible perseverance and drive these students have exhibited during such an unprecedented year.”

The Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship recipients will be announced in April. Selected scholars will receive financial support for up to three years, comprehensive educational advising and the chance to connect with fellow Cooke Scholars.

Cooke Transfer Scholars are selected based on their exceptional academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, service to others, and leadership. Students must be currently enrolled community college students or recent graduates residing in the United States.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded over $222 million in scholarships to over 2,800 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive educational advising and other support services.

The Foundation has also provided $115 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. To learn more about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, visit www.jkcf.org