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Wendy Mejia Aguilar, an ACES and Macklin Business Institute Honors Student, Becomes the College’s 14th Winner of the Scholarship

Wendy Mejia Aguilar, a student at Montgomery College (MC), is one of 61 recipients nationally of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The highly competitive scholarship will provide Mejia, who graduates from MC in May, with up to $40,000 annually for a maximum of three years to complete her bachelor’s degree. Mejia, a graduate of Kennedy High School, is one of three students in the state of Maryland to earn the scholarship this year.

Nearly 1,500 students applied for the 2019 Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Foundation evaluated each submission based on academic ability, persistence, leadership, and service to others.

“This means so much to my family, and my mom, in particular,” said Mejia, who knew very little English when she arrived in the US from El Salvador with her mother and littler sister. “When I started high school, I didn’t think I would ever go to college. And today, having this opportunity in front of me, it shows that you can do whatever you set your mind to if you work hard.”

Mejia Aguilar credits the ACES program, an increasingly successful partnership between the College, Montgomery County Public Schools, and the Universities at Shady Grove, as well as her “Macklin family” for always giving her guidance and support. The Macklin Business Institute (MBI) Honors program provides a collegiate experience that parallels that of the best business schools in the country, bringing together highly talented students who share an interest in business.

“Wendy is the ideal Montgomery College student, excelling in the classroom while providing service to the campus and local community,” said Dr. Stephen Lang, MBI director. “Specifically, she is a model student in the Macklin Business Institute program, where we focus on teaching students to use their skills to ‘give back’ to people less fortunate. This was something very important to Gordon Macklin when he founded our program.”

Lang says Mejia Aguilar exemplifies the MC and Macklin mission, evidenced in her efforts as leader of the “Our Stories Project,” designed to impact ESOL students at MCPS. As a former ESOL student herself, Mejia Aguilar felt the importance of proving to these students, including his younger sister, that a path to success in college, including attaining scholarships, awaits them.

“I don’t believe there could be a better role model for our high school students than Wendy Mejia Aguilar,” Lang said.

“I feel that I could not have earned this award without the help of everybody at Kennedy, including the counselors, and of course, the MBI program,” she said. “To Mr. Lang, to all of my friends in the program, you are all my family now, and I just have to say ‘thank you.’”

Mejia Aguilar is the second student from the MBI program and 14th overall from Montgomery College to earn the scholarship. Mejia Aguilar currently holds a 4.0 grade point average while being enrolled in a challenging roster of honors classes. She hopes to attend Yale, Georgetown, or the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business in the fall.

For Dr. Lucy Laufe, the collegewide honors coordinator and the catalyst for MC students applying for the Cooke Foundation scholarship, Mejia Aguilar’s achievements come as no surprise.

“Wendy’s persistence and engagement, her co-curricular experience with Macklin, to soon be graduating with 20 credits in honors course work alone… she’s one of those students who has always gone the extra mile in her academics,” Laufe said. “And there is an authenticity in her voice that came out in her essays. It really showed who Wendy really is. All these factors explain why she was selected by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to receive this scholarship.”

This year’s recipients represent 18 different states, have a median household adjusted gross income of $28,000, and an average GPA of 3.93.

In addition to the monetary award, new Cooke Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising from Foundation staff to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year school and preparing for their careers. The Foundation will additionally provide opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a thriving network of nearly 2,500 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni.



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