Today, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation proudly announced the selection of Denise Gonzalez Cruz, a student at Brookdale Community College, as one of the finalists for the highly coveted Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. This esteemed scholarship recognizes community college students who exhibit outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and service and provides them with vital support to transfer to top four-year institutions across the United States.

Denise Gonzalez Cruz, a sophomore majoring in Data Science, has demonstrated exceptional dedication to her academic pursuits and community involvement while at Brookdale Community College. Serving as the Secretary of the Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (W.E.S.T) Club, a vital member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and the Brookdale Women’s Volleyball Team, Denise has consistently shown her commitment to excellence both inside and outside the classroom. Recently, she also became a PTK—Alpha Phi Theta National Honor Society member, further reflecting her commitment to academic achievement and service.

In response to being named a finalist, Denise shared her excitement and gratitude, stating, “This is an incredible honor. It shows that all the effort I’ve put in has paid off. This scholarship isn’t just about money; it’s also about believing in what I can do to help others in my community and beyond.”

Denise’s passion for advocacy and her aspirations to pursue a career in public policy have been evident in her coursework and extracurricular activities. She aims to utilize her background in data science to address issues such as healthcare disparities and advocate for marginalized communities, particularly survivors of sexual violence.

Commenting on the significance of the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, Seppy Basili, Executive Director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, remarked, “In light of the challenges that hinder many community college students from achieving their goal of earning a bachelor’s degree, our Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship makes the journey more achievable and helps to eliminate the threat of student debt.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship offers unparalleled financial support, providing as much as $55,000 per year for two to three years to cover tuition, books, and living expenses at accredited four-year institutions. Additionally, selected Cooke Transfer Scholars receive educational advising, internship opportunities, and access to a robust network of fellow scholars and alums.

When asked about her experience at Brookdale, she shared her experience as a National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM Scholars Program Beta Cohort member. She said, “This program has allowed me to grow and develop my confidence inside and outside of the classroom. It has also allowed me to network with scholars across the country and provided many resources for professional development.”

Her favorite class this semester was Women’s Gender Studies. “This class was different,” Denise said. “I have been able to advance my interpersonal skills. I enjoy reading the material presented and seeing the intersectionality of our world. I recently read Yvette Alex-Assensoh’s What’s Love Got to Do with It?, in which she discusses the importance of love and empathy in education. It served as a reminder as to why I hope to one day be an educator within STEM, particularly in areas where Women are continuously underrepresented.”

Denise Gonzalez Cruz’s remarkable achievements and dedication to her community make her an exemplary candidate for the Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship.

For more information about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, please visit