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Montgomery College Students Win Two of 60 Prestigious National Scholarships from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation  Scholarship to Aid Rahel Kebede and Susan Wu with Transfer to Four-Year Universities

Montgomery College students Susan Wu and Rahel Kebede have won the highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF) Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which will provide up to $30,000 each year for tuition, books and living expenses to use at the four-year transfer institution of their choice. They are two of 60 community college students across the country selected to receive the scholarship, making it the largest private scholarship for community college transfer students in the country. It marks the second consecutive year a Montgomery College student has received the award. “We are delighted that the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation selected Rahel and Susan, both talented students who epitomize how Montgomery College provides endless possibilities to all members of the community seeking to further their education,” said Dr. DeRionne Pollard, president of Montgomery College. “Too many students and their families struggle to meet the costs of higher education, so this generous support from the foundation will ensure Rahel and Susan have the opportunity to transfer to the universities of their choice.”

Kebede, who attended the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, has a grade point average of 3.95. Wu, who attended the Germantown Campus, carries a 3.86 grade point average. Montgomery College is one of only three community colleges nationwide to have two winners.

A biochemistry major, Kebede is a member of the Renaissance Scholars Honors Program and presented her research on the dangers of obesity at the 2011 Maryland Collegiate Honors Council Conference.  She tutors math students at the College’s Learning Center and serves as a supplemental discussion leader for the math Department. An immigrant from Ethiopia, she continues to participate in service activities in the Ethiopian community, particularly, the Alex Mihret Foundation. The foundation recruits foster mothers for orphaned children and funds elementary education for orphans in Addis Ababa. Kebede plans to transfer to Mt. Holyoke College or Johns Hopkins University.

“Rahel is an individual who seeks to challenge herself and takes full advantage of educational opportunities,” said Dr. Carole Wolin, Ph.D., a biology professor at Montgomery College and director of the Renaissance Scholars honors program at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus. “Given her motivation and perseverance, her intellectual abilities, and her commitment to use her education to the utmost to help others, she is a student that would make the most of this educational opportunity.” Wu is also a Renaissance Scholar and her work reflects a well-rounded record of academic excellence across many diverse disciplines. Curricular and service activities her first year at the College helped her adjust to being in college and led to a leadership role in the Student Senate. She participated in the College’s Alternative Spring Break with Habitat for Humanity in Mississippi.

“There is no more worthy or deserving recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship than Susan Wu,” said Professor Joan Naake, English professor and director of the Renaissance Scholars honors program at the Germantown Campus. “Most days she is on campus from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., studying, taking classes, and tutoring students in the chemistry and biology in the College Science Learning Center. Her intellectual abilities and curiosity are matched by incredible perseverance and courage.”

As a result of her work in organic chemistry, Wu has been awarded the Howard Hughes Scholars Award, a 10-week summer internship at Georgetown University, where she has begun taking classes and doing research in biology and chemistry. She will attend Smith College in the fall. The Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship made her transfer to Smith a realistic possibility and has enabled her to fulfill her dreams of majoring in biology with a minor in environmental science. For graduate school, she is considering Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. Susan hopes her research in marine science will lead to greater protection of the environment, especially the habitat for wildlife.

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