Elite Group of Two-Year College Students Awarded Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships from Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Montgomery College Graduate Lawrence Caldwell One of the 40 Recipients

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation continues to find diamonds in the rough including some non-traditional students who for various personal or financial reasons delayed college and began their academic journey at the community college level. The Foundation recently announced that its 40 latest “diamonds” were found at two-year institutions in 17 states and comprise the 2010 class of Undergraduate Transfer Scholars. Montgomery College graduate Lawrence Caldwell is one of the Foundation’s 40 scholars.

The Foundation will provide each student a scholarship worth up to $30,000 a year for up to three years, which will allow them to transfer to four-year colleges and universities and complete their undergraduate degrees.

The 40 Undergraduate Transfer Scholars have residences in 18 different states and 18 of the Scholars were born in foreign nations.

In the fall of 2010, the Scholars will matriculate at some of the nation’s most highly competitive universities. A large percentage of the 40 Scholars will be majoring in the sciences and pre-medicine, with the engineering disciplines a close second. Other majors include economics, political science, natural resources, social work, education, film, and photography.

“Since it was established, the Foundation has recognized the importance of community colleges and their value to American society,” said Dr. Lawrence Kutner, the Foundation’s executive director. “What we’ve also realized is that many top-notch students at these two-year colleges need financial help to get to the next level.”

Since the Undergraduate Transfer program was instituted in 2002, over 365 students have benefited from scholarships from the Foundation. That represents more than $13 million in scholarship dollars which have been distributed through this Foundation program alone.

All 40 Scholars have distinguished themselves both in and out of the classroom, performing valuable community and public service, while in many cases having to also hold down full-time jobs. Among the 2010 Scholars are these remarkable individuals: A resident of Germantown, Maryland, Lawrence Caldwell earned his associate’s degree from Montgomery College in May, graduating with honors. With this impressive academic record, Caldwell was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and joined the Renaissance Scholars, an honors program offered in the evenings at Montgomery College’s Germantown and Takoma Park/Silver Spring campuses.

Just a few weeks after receiving his Montgomery College degree, Caldwell received his high school diploma. It is quite an accomplishment for a young man who began working full time at age 15 and living independently at 16. He quit attending high school because it was difficult to excel both academically and professionally. At the same time, he managed to create a stable home environment and became the guardian of his younger brother.

Despite his challenges, Caldwell never lost sight of his goal to complete high school and attend college. He found and enrolled in Montgomery College’s Gateway to College, an innovative educational program for youths who stop attending high school or are at-risk of dropping out. The program provided Caldwell with the opportunity to simultaneously earn high school and college credits.

Caldwell credits judges, who were willing to listen, for awarding him guardianship of his brother. Now, he dreams of going to law school, specializing in family law, and one day becoming a judge to help others.

Ehren Bentz and Thomas Aguilar, both veteran Marines with a combined five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both returned home with a desire to better their lives and their communities. Thomas, who came to the US from Mexico, has an interest in both engineering and law. Ehren loves the outdoors and hopes to become a zoologist.

Alicia Violeta Juarez Crow and Aldo Garcia, both graduated with honors from California’s Cañada College and both will be attending Cornell University. A coincidence? Not exactly, as both students are from the same city in Mexico and came north within a few months of each other. Alicia and Aldo were recognized by college officials, the local community, and various Bay Area media outlets for their selfless contributions to campus life and the surrounding communities during their time as students.

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