Chi Cao, Rama Gerig and Jared Nelson are three of the 73 scholars selected nationwide, and only five from Texas, this year to receive this award. The highly-selective scholarships provide up to $30,000 per year for up to three years to community college students who are nominated by their schools based on a number of factors including academic excellence, persistence, leadership and financial need.
The scholarship is intended to cover a significant share of the student’s educational expenses – including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees – for the final two to three years necessary to achieve a bachelor’s degree. Awards vary by individual, based on the cost of tuition as well as other grants or scholarships he or she may receive.
The Cooke Foundation scholarship honors excellence by supporting outstanding community college students with financial need to transfer to, and complete, a bachelor’s degree at four-year colleges and universities
Chi Cao, a Lone Star College-North Harris student, came to America from Viet Nam speaking only a few words of English and understanding even less. She immersed herself into the English language aspiring to obtain an education in business and international development in order to help her homeland. Chi said she has never purchased a textbook because they are “too expensive” and instead goes to the library, checks them out from the circulation desk, and studies on campus.
Rama Gerig, a Lone Star College-Tomball student, was raised by her mother who had little education. Gerig’s father was incarcerated for sexual assault and she dropped out of school when she was 16. In spite of these barriers, Gerig successfully raised her own daughter, putting her through Texas A&M University, and devoted herself to helping other children who, like her, had parents who were in prison. She did not begin to focus on her own academics until 2008 when she received her GED. Not content with merely having an outstanding GPA, she is currently taking a sophomore level film class for honors credit – authoring an honors project paper on feminist character construction in American cinema. Gerig says she plans to get a master’s degree in social work.
Jared Nelson, also a LSC-Tomball student, was diagnosed at the age of 15 with a severe condition called Sydenham’s chorea, a rare form of rheumatic fever. The effects of this remain with him to this day and at times he endures seizures and temporary paralysis. Despite this challenge, Nelson said he plans to attend Texas A&M University where he will study quantum physics.
The prestigious scholarship, established 13 years ago, is named for billionaire businessman Jack Kent Cooke, who died in 1997. In the 2013 application cycle, the Foundation received 769 nominations from 377 community colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia. The final 73 recipients represent just 9.5 percent of the total applicant pool. They were selected by a prominent committee made up of 37 admissions professionals and professors, mostly from selective four-year institutions, as well as from community colleges.
For more information about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation visit jkcf.org/
Lone Star College System has been opening doors to a better community for 40 years. Founded in 1973, LSCS remains steadfast in its commitment to student success and credential completion. Today, with 78,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and the fastest-growing community college system in the nation. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball and LSC-University Park, five centers, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.