Two College System of TN students awarded prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships by Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Gary Satin & Samantha Benavides

Nearly 1,500 students from 311 community colleges applied for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships for 2020 – which provide up to $40,000 a year to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

Only 50 students from 17 states were selected as recipients. Two of them are College System of Tennessee students:

  • Samantha Benavides at Cleveland State Community College
  • Gary Satin at Chattanooga State Community College.

The Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is a highly selective scholarship for the nation’s top community college students seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees at four-year colleges or universities. Each Cooke Scholar has access to generous financial support for two to three years, college planning support, ongoing advising, and the opportunity to connect with the thriving community of more than 2,700 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni.  Scholars will also receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding.

The Foundation evaluated each submission based on students’ academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, leadership, and service to others.

Benavides will graduate from Cleveland State in July with an Associate of Arts degree, in a Foreign Language Tennessee Transfer Pathway. Although she is still undecided on which college or university she will attend after CSCC, she plans to study global affairs and modern foreign languages.

She served as president of Cleveland State’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges, played clarinet in the Cleveland Pops Band and attended the Tennessee Honors in Action Academy. As captain of the debate team, she won two outstanding speaker awards, one team award, one best college debate award, and has been invited to compete at the Novice Nationals Forensic tournament for two years running.

"I feel blessed and extremely proud to be one of 50 students across the nation to receive such a prestigious scholarship,” Benavides said. “During my time at CSCC, I held two jobs and still tried to remain active in my college and education. This scholarship means everything to me because it takes the financial burden off of me and will enable me to be a better, more focused, student.

Satin, a student in Chattanooga State’s Global Scholars Honors Program, will graduate this year with an Associate of Science degree in pre-health. With the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon, his dream is to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. He is a Tennessee Reconnect scholarship recipient and a Chattanooga State Foundation First in the Family Scholar.

After realizing what the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship will mean to his future, Satin said he felt like a huge financial weight had been lifted from his shoulders. “This life-changing opportunity will allow me to put all my focus into my education so I can eventually help serve others in ways that seemed unimaginable before,” he said.

Because of his interest in research, Satin has applied to Cornell, East Tennessee State, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Stanford, Swarthmore, Vanderbilt and Yale.

“We know this is a very uncertain time for many students and their families. We remain deeply committed to supporting high-achieving community college students to ensure they have the resources to reach their full academic potential,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “We are excited to welcome this new class of Cooke Transfer Scholars to our community and looking forward to seeing the many amazing things they do as they continue on their transfer journey.”

A complete list of the 2020 Cooke Transfer Scholars is here. Learn more about the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship here or sign up to receive an email alert when the application opens again this fall!

About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation: The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded over $200 million in scholarships to over 2,700 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive educational advising and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $110 million in grants to organizations that serve such students.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.