As Tahara Garrison-Brown, ’22, walked across the stage to receive her diploma during the College’s commencement ceremony on May 7, she also received one of the biggest surprises of her college career: she had been awarded the highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.
This year, more than 1,200 students from 332 community colleges across the country submitted application for the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Tahara was one of 100 finalists selected to receive up to $55,000 a year to complete her bachelor’s degree. In addition to financial support, she will also receive educational advising; opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding; and connections to a thriving network of over 3,000 Cooke Scholars and alumni.
“This scholarship will allow me to get my bachelor’s degree as a full-time student and debt free,” Tahara said. “This will definitely help my transition be a bit smoother because I won’t have to work so much outside of school in order to afford it. I can focus more on soaking in my college experience. I’ll also have the support of the Jack Kent Cooke community, which I’m super excited about.”
A Health Care Studies major, Tahara plans to continue her studies at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to pursue a career in nursing.
“Once I’m a registered nurse, I’d like to work in different specialties, specifically labor and delivery,” Tahara said. “I’d like to gain some experience before obtaining my master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner. I’m leaning towards specializing in nurse-midwifery and women’s health throughout the lifespan. I’d love to have my own practice someday.”
This year, three Community College of Philadelphia students were selected as semifinalists for the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. To date, Tahara is at least the eighth College student awarded the scholarship.
“Attending CCP has not only helped me save some money, but it has allowed me to take advantage of some wonderful opportunities, including this scholarship,” Tahara said. “I actually won the Hayward L. Bell Scholarship in the fall of 2021 through CCP. That scholarship almost completely covered my final year, which I could not have done if I didn’t attend.
“I’ve also met some amazing and encouraging people here – specifically in Health Care Studies. Everyone is so motivated with these incredible goals, and I can’t wait to see it all happen for them. The instructors have been fantastic as well. I’ve certainly felt challenged, particularly in my science courses, and I’ve learned to be more organized with my studies and managing my time. Overall, I feel that my experience at CCP has given me a great foundation for nursing school at a four-year college, and I couldn’t be more excited for this journey.”
When asked how it felt to be selected as a finalist, she said, “It honestly feels surreal. I knew there was some chance I could win. Just making it to being a semifinalist made me proud enough, but I never really thought things like this actually happen for people like me. I’m on cloud nine right now and I’m eternally grateful.”
A full list of this year’s Cooke Transfer Scholars, their community colleges, and their hometowns can be found here.