The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students receive national $40,000 scholarship

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By Hope Sandusky and Linah Mohammad

Two TCC students received the highest private scholarship for community colleges — $120,000 in scholarship money from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation toward their future transfer universities.

SE student Karen Meacham and NW student Ismael Castaneda both received the news in surprise announcements last week.

SE president Bill Coppola surprises Karen Meacham with a Jack Kent Cooke scholarship. Photos by Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian
SE president Bill Coppola surprises Karen Meacham with a Jack Kent Cooke scholarship.
Photos by Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship started in 2002. Eighty-five winners are chosen to receive up to $40,000 in scholarship per year for up to three years. The scholarship recipients are chosen based on academic ability and achievements, financial need and leadership qualities.

Meacham was surprised with her scholarship April 27.

“They tricked me!” she said. “Dean [Jerry] Coats texted me and said that [SE president] Dr. [Bill] Coppola had some VIPs coming to campus, and he wanted them to meet me and Jhoalmo [All-USA scholars]. I met Dean Coats in his office, and we walked over there together, and it wasn’t some people I had never seen before. It was a lot of people that I knew. I didn’t know what was going on. I cried. I couldn’t believe it. I still am in disbelief.”

Meacham is studying dietetics. As a child, she suffered from food allergies. With not many dieticians having knowledge of her problem, she decided to become one to help others like her.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in school,” she said. “When I came back, I decided I was going to do it and do it the best I could. So I came in full force. I graduated from high school in 1990. That’s the last time I was in school prior to coming here in the fall of 2012.”

Coats said Meacham is a wonderful student.

“Karen Meacham is the type of person who does not need a lot of help,” he said. “She is wonderfully self-motivated. She is proactive with her studies and proactive with her life.

“One of the most intriguing things about Karen is she’s not a one-sided student. She loves dietetics. She’s one of our dietetic students and yet she excels in English, in language studies, and she loves to read.”

Meacham plans on going to Texas Woman’s University in the fall.

Castaneda was presented his scholarship at the NW Cornerstone Banquet April 29. Students graduating from the Cornerstone Honors Program had posters up stating where they were planning on going to college.

The only one graduating who didn’t have one was Castaneda. When asked by Cornerstone director Lynn Preston where his was, he said he hadn’t gotten any scholarships yet and hadn’t decided.

That was when he was surprised with a poster with his photo and the amount of money he had received from the scholarship.

NW student Ismael Castaneda learns he has just won a $40,000-per-year scholarship.
NW student Ismael Castaneda learns he has just won a $40,000-per-year scholarship.

“I was very surprised,” he said. “I kept waiting every morning to get a rejection email. I kept thinking, ‘Maybe tomorrow morning,’ so I was very surprised.”

A first-generation college student, Castaneda plans on studying economics, concentrating on nonprofit management. He plans on using this scholarship as a motivating tool for his future.

“This is exciting, not just monetarily because it is a large sum of money, but it’s going to motivate me by giving me a chance to pursue what I want to do,” he said. “Knowing I can take the college courses I want, it gives me the extra support I need. The scholars, the alumni that have received this award, they stick together. It excites me and pushes me toward what I am hoping to do.”

Castaneda has been accepted into the University of Texas at Austin but is waiting to hear from Stanford and a few other schools before he makes his decision.

Meacham and Castaneda are both thankful for all the people who have helped them throughout their journey at TCC.

“It was so neat to see all these people that have been important in my academic journey and who supported me and provided help when I needed it,” Meacham said. “Something I learned is that there are always people here. You just have to ask.”

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