ATLANTA–Georgia State University Perimeter College student Colton Smith has been awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, worth up to $40,000 a year, to complete a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.
Smith, 24, an Honors biology student, hopes to continue his baccalaureate studies at Columbia University, Clemson University or Tulane University, with a goal of one day becoming a pediatrician.
News of the scholarship stunned Smith, an Atlanta resident who has supported himself since he was 18 years old.
“This is very surreal to me,” he said.
A full-time student, Smith also works at a Kirkwood daycare center. He recently was honored as a Sophomore Scholar of Excellence during Perimeter College’s annual STEM Student Scholars Award program. The award acknowledges students who maintain a 3.5 or higher GPA in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) classes. Smith has a 3.98 gradepoint average. He also is active in student organizations, including the History and Politics Club and Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
Smith credits his professors with helping him become a better student. He plans to graduate from Perimeter College with his associate degree in May.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship in the nation for students transferring from two-year community colleges to four-year institutions that award bachelor’s degrees.
The foundation selected 55 outstanding community college students from a nationwide pool of nearly 3,000 applicants to receive Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships this year. Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars have financial need and strong records of academic achievement as shown by grades, leadership skills, awards, extraordinary service to others and perseverance in the face of adversity.
“Our Undergraduate Transfer Scholars have a proven record of accomplishment at elite colleges and universities and have gone on to successful careers in many professions,” Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold O. Levy said. “This is among the most prestigious scholarships in the country, and we are extremely proud of the talented students who have been selected.”
Cooke Scholarships fund the costs of attending college not covered by other financial aid, plus academic advising, stipends for internships, study abroad and opportunities to network with other Cooke Scholars and alumni. After earning a bachelor’s degree, each Cooke Scholar may be eligible for a graduate school scholarship worth up to $50,000 a year for up to four years.
Since 2000, the Cooke Foundation has awarded more than $152 million in scholarships to nearly 2,200 students from eighth grade through graduate school. It has provided comprehensive counseling and other support services and also has awarded more than $90 million in grants to organizations serving students. www.jkcf.org.