April 29, 2019


Two LaGuardia Community College Students Among Only 61 Community College Students from Across U.S. Selected as 2019 Jack Kent Cook Scholars

Congratulations to Matthew Wilson, age 38, and Sukhrob Abdushukurov, age 22!

Matthew Wilson & Sukhrob Abdushukurov
From left to right Matthew Wilson & Sukhrob Abdushukurov

Two LaGuardia Community College students have been selected as 2019 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars. Matthew Wilson and Sukhrob Abdushukurov are two of only 61 community college students from across the U.S. selected for this highly competitive scholarship, which provides up to $40,000/year (for up to three years) for the completion of a bachelor’s degree, thus making it the one of the most prestigious and certainly the largest transfer scholarship available to community college students. Cooke scholars are also eligible for graduate studies funding from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

With the selection of Matthew Wilson and Sukhrob Abdushukurov, LaGuardia has had 11 Cooke scholars since 2006, three of whom also received Cooke Graduate Scholarships (currently up to $75,000 for a maximum of four years).

“We are incredibly proud of Matthew and Sukhrob on their selection as 2019 Jack Kent Cooke Scholars, which not only reflects their individual achievements, but also the dedication of our faculty and staff who mentored them and supported their applications,” said LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow. “Too many low-income students, who disproportionately make up student populations at community colleges, are unable to finish their bachelor’s due to financial burdens. It’s especially meaningful that Matthew is pursuing his college studies in his late 30’s while raising two children—with support like this from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, parents who want to make better lives for themselves and their families, and are able to do so.”

“Matthew and Sukhrob are remarkable in their own way for their drive, resilience, and intellectual talents; their Cooke success is truly inspiring. Also inspiring are the many meaningful support networks, opportunities, and advising & mentoring avenues found at LaGuardia, all of which have lifted these scholars closer to their dreams,” said Karlyn Koh, PhD, honors program director and professor of English at LaGuardia Community College. Dr. Koh is LaGuardia’s Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Faculty Representative.

“I thank the many at LaGuardia who worked so hard to nurture and support not just these Cooke scholars, but also the other talented and motivated students who applied for the Cooke scholarship this past year. The work of sustaining a culture that empowers all students—including the high-achieving ones—is the labor of many,” added Dr. Koh.

Matthew Wilson, age 38 and a father of two: his son Dejuan is 18 years old and his daughter Egypt is 11 months, is a Liberal Arts: Film and Television major. He came to LaGuardia through the CUNY Fatherhood Academy, which helps fathers get on track with education and employment. Fatherhood, where he currently works as a mentor, provided him with application support.

At LaGuardia, Matthew was selected as a President’s Society Ambassador, and, through the college’s Honors Internship Program, he secured a competitive internship spot at NBC, where he worked as an on the ground reporter and had items published on NBC’s website. He has been accepted to Queens College and York College; he is also considering Columbia, NYU, and Long Island University as transfer options to pursue his passion for moving images. He was recommended by LaGuardia humanities professor Joyce Rheuban, PhD; and Baz Dreisinger, PhD, founding academic director of John Jay’s Prison-to-College Pipeline program.

Sukhrob Abdushukurov, age 22 and a Psychology major, is a member of many programs at LaGuardia including ASAP, the Peer Advisor Academy, and the Open Educational Resources Initiative. Born in Uzbekistan, he speaks English, Uzbek, Tadjik, Russian, and German. He moved to the U.S. three years ago, and shortly thereafter, began his academic journey at LaGuardia, where he joined the Peer Activist Learning Community (PALC). In his future career, Sukhrob plans to use psychology to develop an interdisciplinary approach to education. He has applied to Amherst, Swarthmore, Cornell, and Wesleyan, amongst other four-year colleges. He was recommended by psychology professor Eduardo Vianna, PhD; and Francisco Medina, a doctoral student in the Urban Education Program at The Graduate Center, CUNY and a PALC member.

In addition to the monetary award, these 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.

“Our recent ‘ Persistence’ report highlights the vast potential, and achievements, of community college transfer students—who go on to outperform their non-transfer peers at selective four-year institutions,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “In an era where many high-achieving students often begin their higher education journey in community college, the Foundation is committed to enabling these transfer students to pursue their academic dreams at the nation’s top colleges and universities.”

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. The recipients selected represent 18 different states have a median household adjusted gross income of $28,000 and an average GPA of 3.93. This year’s cohort of Cooke Transfer Scholars has applied to the nation’s most selective institutions.

Previous LaGuardia Community College students selected for Jack Kent Cooke Scholarships include:

1. Yeshey Pelzom (2006); Agnes Scott; King’s College, London (M.A., also funded by the JKC Foundation)
2. Harmonie Kobanghe (2012); Georgetown; Columbia (M.A., also funded by the JKC Foundation)
3. Cristina Mihailescu (2014); Columbia; NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (MPA, also funded by the JKC Foundation)
4. Xavier Medina (2015); Columbia
5. Nathan Weiss (2015); Baruch
6. Jonathan Morales (2017); Stanford
7. Konstandinos Gobakis (2017); Amherst
8. Miguel Castillo (2017); Columbia
9. Eleni Romano (2018); Columbia

Click here for the complete list of the 2019 Cooke Transfer Scholars.

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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 $175 million in scholarships to more than 2,300 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The Foundation has also provided over $97 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. www.jkcf.org.

LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs . LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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