The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced the semifinalists for its highly competitive Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Through this award, the Foundation supports high-achieving community college students with financial need seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees at selective four-year institutions.

Leah Josefowitz and Michael Skarica from Brookdale Community College are two of this year’s 440 semifinalists chosen from a pool of more than 1,200 applicants attending 180 community colleges in 35 states.

Josefowitz from Wall Township is a dean’s list student majoring in liberal arts and is an active member of the The Innovation Network (TIN), where she is a graphic designer and one of the managers. In addition, she is a member of Women In Learning and Leadership (WILL), the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) club and honor society and was a cheerleader last semester. She hopes to transfer in the fall with a diverse list of possible schools she has applied to Yale, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Boston University, University of Miami, and Rutgers. 

Skarica is also from Wall and will be graduating in May with an Associate in Science degree. Monmouth University has accepted him and plans to attend in the fall of 2022. His major at Monmouth University will be Biology with a concentration in Molecular Cell Physiology.

Since its inception, the Cooke Foundation has selected Transfer Scholars from over 337 community colleges and has awarded more than $54 million in transfer scholarships. While national college enrollments have been on the decline in the midst of the pandemic, recent National Student Clearinghouse data finds that transfers are on the rise among community college students who have stayed enrolled in the first year of the pandemic. For the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, this was a highly competitive year.

“The past year has been particularly difficult as students continued to navigate the complexities of hybrid learning, the demands of family care, and disrupted work schedules,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “We are so proud of these semifinalists for their perseverance and achievements at their community colleges.”

The Undergraduate Scholarship offers unmatched support to community college students seeking to complete their education at top four-year institutions. In addition to financial support, selected Cooke Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising from the Foundation to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year school and preparing for their careers. Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will additionally receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a thriving network of nearly 3,000 fellow Cooke Scholars and Alumni.

The Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship recipients will be announced by early May.

Cooke Transfer Scholars are selected based on their exceptional academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, service, and leadership. In addition, students must be currently enrolled in a community college or recent alumni.

The Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded $230 million in scholarships to nearly 3,000 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $120 million in grants to organizations that serve such students.