DUNWOODY, Ga. – Matthew Wessler, a Woodstock resident and recent graduate of Georgia State University’s Perimeter College, is being awarded the Jack Kent Cooke (JKC) Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, one of the largest private scholarships in the country
The highly competitive national scholarship will provide Wessler with up to $40,000 a year to complete his bachelor’s degree. The foundation selected only 50 students nationwide to receive the scholarship this year.
Wessler graduated from Perimeter College in December with an associate degree in business administration. The 21-year-old transferred to Georgia State’s Atlanta Campus this spring to major in actuarial science.
The JKC Foundation selected Wessler and fellow Perimeter College student Diana Ha as two of this year’s winners. They were chosen from 1,500 applicants attending 311 community colleges, placing them in the top 3 percent of candidates for the award.
“You never know if it’ll be you,” Wessler said after learning he’d received the award as announced by Perimeter College Dean Nancy Kropf via a Webex conference due to Covid-19 pandemic social distancing practices.
“I didn’t know if it’d be me, so this is a wonderful surprise.”
While at Perimeter College, Wessler excelled in the Honors College, earned multiple academic awards, maintained a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) and tutored fellow math students.
Wessler was so excited to hear that he’d won the JKC scholarship that he did a “happy dance” during the Webex conference call, noting that he’s better at math than dancing. He imagined that his mom, a single parent, would also be overjoyed when he shared the news with her.
“We know this is a very uncertain time for many students and their families. We remain deeply committed to supporting high-achieving community college students to ensure they have the resources to reach their full academic potential,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
In addition to financial support, Wessler and the other JKC scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising from the foundation as they transition to a four-year college and prepare for their careers. Winners also will receive opportunities for internships, study abroad and funding for graduate school and will join a network of more than 2,700 JKC scholars and alumni.
This year, 12 Perimeter students were named semifinalists for the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, setting a record for the college. The 12 Perimeter students represent the majority of semifinalists from the state of Georgia and positioned Perimeter College among the top five institutions in the nation for its number of semifinalists.
The JKC Foundation evaluated applicants on their academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, leadership and service to others. This year’s selected recipients represent 17 states.
Since 2002, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has awarded 21 Perimeter students the undergraduate transfer scholarship. These students have gone on to achieve success in bachelor’s degree programs (and beyond) at prominent institutions such as Georgia Tech, MIT, Emory University, Howard University, University of Southern California, Stanford University and Agnes Scott College.
Read more about the challenges Wessler overcame to become one of this year’s winners. Learn about Perimeter College’s strong history with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and its scholarships at the college’s new Jack Kent Cooke website.