Seminole State ties U.S. record as 4 students earn Jack Kent Cooke scholarships

Seminole State ties U.S. record as 4 students earn Jack Kent Cooke scholarships

SANFORD, Fla. (May 5, 2015) – Four Seminole State College of Florida honors students were surprised with one of the most prestigious transfer scholarships in the nation at the District Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, April 27.

Shannon Conner, Melissa Cunningham, Juliana Rodriguez and Sebastian Roubert are four of only 90 students nationwide selected to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The scholarship, presented each year to the top graduating community college students nationwide, awards up to $40,000 each year to cover recipients’ educational costs while completing their bachelor’s degrees and up to $50,000 per year to complete advanced degrees.

The students were surprised with the news by Dr. E. Ann McGee, Seminole State's president. 

“We are very proud of these students and their achievements, of our faculty and staff who have supported them along the way, and of the academic excellence that their achievements represent,” says McGee. “Like our eight previous Jack Kent Cooke recipients, these students and their accomplishments will have a positive effect that extends well beyond their own lives as they seek to make the world a better place for all of us.”

Seminole State, which has had eight previous JKC scholars since 2006, is only the second college to have had four scholars in one year.

“Working with our honors students every day, I realized we had an exceptionally smart, talented and ambitious graduating class,” says Barbara Greenwell, director of Seminole State’s Grindle Honors Institute. “But for four of our students to earn this life-changing award in the same year is an accomplishment that exceeded even our highest hopes.”

Seminole State’s winning students all are products of the Grindle Honors Institute and Pi Lambda, the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

Shannon Conner, 48, of Lake Mary, is a single mother of three. Conner, who was enrolled in Seminole State after overcoming challenging health issues, will graduate with her Honors Diploma. She plans to study communications and writing at Rollins College en route to a law degree. In addition to philanthropic pursuits, she hopes to be an entrepreneur, public speaker and author.
Melissa Cunningham, 36, of Sanford, is the mother of a 4-year-old son. Following a series of hardships, including an accident involving a drunken driver and her son developing a severe heart condition, Cunningham decided to return to school in 2012. She will attend Smith College this fall as part of their Ada Comstock Scholars Program. She plans to become a physician and help mentor underprivileged children.
Juliana Rodriguez, 20, of Casselberry, moved with her family from Colombia at age 6. A Seminole High School Health Academy graduate, Rodriguez plans to study biomedical sciences and chemistry at the University of Central Florida. She plans to become a cardiovascular surgeon.
Sebastian Roubert, 20, of Maitland, overcame homelessness as a teenager. He was raised by a single mom and is originally from Puerto Rico. Roubert, who graduated from Lyman High School, plans to earn his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and material sciences. Following a passion for rowing, he hopes one day to engineer Olympic-class rowing shells. He is weighing offers from several top universities.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation says the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is to community college graduates what the Rhodes scholarship is to overseas study.

The Grindle Honors Institute offers enrichment programs for academically talented students wishing to enhance their experience at Seminole State. For more information, visit www.seminolestate.edu/honors, or call 407.708.2062.

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