Jorge Torres has grit. Though his community college career had a rocky start, his perseverance has led him through to this year where he will certainly be remembered as one of the most recognized students in LSC-Tomball history. At the top of his list of achievements is the fact that he has been named one of 90 community college students, selected from thousands of applicants from around the country, to receive the highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship (up to $40,000 per year per student for up to 3 years) honors excellence by supporting outstanding community college students with financial need to transfer to and complete their bachelor’s degrees at the nation’s top four-year colleges and universities. It is given to well-rounded students who are leaders on their campus, who have demonstrated significant academic rigor in their course work, who reflect the spirit of altruism, and who have ambitious academic goals.
The Cooke scholarship is the perfect ending to an incredibly successful year for Jorge. The English-major is also the president of Alpha Rho Mu, the LSC-Tomball chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for two-year colleges, which was named the highest ranking chapter out of 1285 chapters in the world when it received the 2015 Most Distinguished Chapter at the International PTK convention held in San Antonio in April. Jorge was also named Most Distinguished Officer. “Jorge’s academic engagement and leadership are without equal,” said Dr. Rebecca Tate, English professor and PTK advisor.
In addition to his studies and work in PTK, Jorge also won the national Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship during the fall 2014 semester. Then, in spring 2015, he was selected from a field of 1700 applicants to be named to the prestigious Coca-Cola Community College Team, winning the Gold Scholar Award. “One of Jorge’s qualities that I truly admire,” Dr. Tate said, “is that he mentors all of his peers in their applications for scholarships even when he is in direct competition with them for the same scholarships!”
The importance of GRIT and growth mindset where cornerstones of the award-winning College Project that PTK enacted this year. “Grit and a growth mindset instill the discipline and confidence to accomplish a great many things in life,” Jorge said. ”Having grit and a willingness to grow will not only serve a person trying to complete a degree or certificate but it will give them the formula to accomplish anything of significance.” His personal need for a change of mindset caused the project to strike a chord with him personally.
He recalls specifically the start to his own college career. “When I first started at LSC-Tomball, I was extremely disappointed by how badly I had tested for math in my entrance exam. In fact I didn't even bother signing up for the developmental classes after I had tested because of how upset I was. But after a semester, I decided to give it a try. I struggled early on because I wouldn't seek help for fear of looking stupid. As time passed, I grew out of that mentality and began to approach the professor, fellow students, and tutors for help which resulted in my getting an A in that class.”
Jorge would like to focus his composition studies on business and technical applications. He will transfer to the University of St. Thomas this fall and hopes ultimately to pursue a Master’s degree, then work in the energy industry as a technical writer. “I would also like to teach composition at the community college,” he said. “I can see teaching as something I do part-time at first but hopefully transitioning into something full-time later on.”
“My experience has been one of tremendous growth. When I think about where I was three years ago to where I am now I still have a hard time believing it. Because of my time at LSC-Tomball, I've met many wonderful and worthwhile people, accomplished things I didn't think I could do, and have let go of so much of the negative thinking that used to plague my life. I used to hear the phrase ‘the transformative power of education’ and I had no clue what it meant nor did I care. Now, I'm living proof of it.”