2022 Georgia State University Perimeter College Clarkston Campus Papa Ebo Quainoo is a Jack Kent Cooke Undergrad Scholarship semifinalist
Four students and one graduate from Georgia State University’s Perimeter College recently were named as semifinalists for the 2022 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is a competitive scholarship for the nation’s top community (two-year) college students, and provides recipients up to $55,000 per year, placing the scholarship among the largest private awards in the country for community college transfer students. The following is a profile of one of the five semifinalists.
By Rebecca Rakoczy
Photo by Bill Roa
CLARKSTON, Ga.–Papa Ebo Quainoo arrived in the United States from Ghana, knowing no one except his father.
In addition, he was unsure about how to navigate college life. But he knew two things for certain. First, he wanted to study engineering—specifically, aerospace engineering. Secondly, he knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“I was determined to achieve my goal no matter what it took—that was my dream,” he says.
He is on his way. Quainoo was recently named a semifinalist for the competitive Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.
Quainoo came to Perimeter College because of its robust engineering pathway as part of the Regents’ Engineering Pathway program.
He quickly became involved on the Clarkston Campus, first with Perimeter’s Summer Bridge research opportunities offered through the Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. He was elected president of the Clarkston Science Club. And he also was accepted to the NASA Community College Scholars program where he worked with a team of 11 students from across the country to research and design the engine components for a manned Martian exploration mission.
The intensive national program, which accepts just 500 students each year, provided Quainoo with an excellent opportunity to explore and connect with NASA scientists and engineers, he says.
An Honors student, Quianoo also recently attended the National Society of Black Engineers conference in Anaheim, Calif. where the Perimeter team placed second in the Boeing flight competition. That experience underscored his love for aircraft.
“I want to work with planes, whatever that may be,” he says.
“My interest in aerospace started as early as the first time I was sent to an airport at age six and realized planes were not as small as I saw them from my house.
“I began to ask, ‘Why are these planes so big and they can fly, but the television remote does not fly when I throw it up in the air?’ I was told that planes are just a combination of machines that work together to stay in the air and there are some factors these machines must take into consideration. This answer left me with more questions, and it was at that moment I decided that this would be my life, and I would want to learn all about what influences flight.”
Quainoo’s learning path has not been without hiccups. Last year, he failed an engineering test that he thought he’d aced.
“I had always been an A student, and I was confident that I knew the material,” he says.
“I was worried that if I asked questions, I would look like I didn’t know.”
This experience wound up turning things around for Quainoo.
“The poor grade represented a barrier between my dream and me, and I realized that I had to make a choice and that choice would reflect how much a wanted to achieve my dream,” he says.
So, Quainoo started asking more—and more—questions in class.
“It really helped my understanding of the material and after that, everything has been smooth.”
In addition to his studies, Quainoo works for the federally funded Project RAISE as a Student Development Specialist for assistant professor of mathematics, Dr. Ervin China.
Dr. China sees Quainoo as one of his best and brightest students.
“It’s been a pleasure to witness the rapport and trust he’s built with his peers and to watch as he explains seemingly difficult statistics concepts to the class in a way that resonates with them,” China says.
“Papa is quite deserving of the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, and I’m confident he will achieve amazing heights on his journey to becoming an aerospace engineer.”
Quainoo hopes to transfer to Princeton, Cornell or Georgia Tech to study engineering. The scholarship award would help him reach that goal, he says.
“Not only would the scholarship take me one step closer to achieving my dream, but my story can inspire others to not be afraid to pursue their dreams.”
The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer scholarship winners will be announced sometime in May.