Thomas Emens, a student at Middlesex College, is one of 100 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The highly competitive national scholarship will provide Emens with up to $55,000 a year to complete a bachelor’s degree.
Emens, born and raised in Jamesburg, plans to attend Princeton University in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in politics.
“When I was accepted to Princeton, I felt a tremendous financial weight lifted off my shoulders because of the Cooke scholarship award. Also, the people who make up the Cooke scholar community have gone and done so many incredible things. The opportunity to be mentored by those people and receive their wisdom is a great honor,” Emens said in a statement released by Middlesex College.
College President Mark McCormick said that three-quarters of the students who attend Middlesex College intend to transfer to a four-year college or university.
“Our faculty and staff prepare them well for transfer,” he said in the statement. “We are incredibly proud of Thomas and appreciative of the support from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for high-achieving students.”
In the 2020-21 academic year, four-year colleges and universities saw nearly 200,000 fewer transfer enrollment applications nationwide, reflecting the pandemic’s disruptive effect on students and their plans for college, according to the statement. Despite that decline, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation welcomed its largest class of scholars to date, highlighting the talent and achievement of hundreds of community college students across the country. In light of growing financial hardship for so many families, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation also increased the maximum award amount by an extra $15,000 to ensure students can focus on their studies while enrolled, according to the statement.
“Today, almost half of all college students begin their academic career at a community college. We know our community colleges are full of high-achieving students, and we’re committed to playing our part to ensure those students succeed,” Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, said in the statement. “Congratulations to a cohort of students who have persisted in the midst of such unprecedented disruptions in our lives. We welcome you into our community and look forward to learning alongside you.”
New Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year college and preparing for their careers. Along with financial support, scholars will additionally receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a thriving network of approximately 3,000 Cooke Scholars and alumni, according to the statement.
This year, more than 1,200 students from 332 community colleges applied to receive the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The foundation evaluated each submission based on students’ academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, and leadership. Five Middlesex College students were named semifinalists for the Cooke scholarship.
For more information about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, visit jkcf.org.