Mark Farag is an engineering student at Union County College in New Jersey with a 3.92 GPA. He also serves as an ambassador for NASA’s Lucy mission and has participated in two programs for NASA’s L’Space Academy, where he chose and designed components for spacecrafts to study Venus. He also tutors students at the college’s Academic Learning Center and has served as president of the college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
All while working full-time at Amazon to support himself.
Farag, who plans to become a project manager aerospace engineer, is among 100 community college students named 2022 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholars, which includes a scholarship of up to $55,000 a year to complete their baccalaureate. Along with financial support, scholars receive opportunities for internships, study abroad and graduate school funding, as well as a connection to a network of over nearly 3,000 Cooke Scholars and alumni.
“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 foundation, said in a release.
The foundation this year awarded more scholarships than ever at 100. Last year, it awarded 72. In 2020, it was 50. The foundation also increased its award limit this year by $15,000, to $55,000.
More than 1,200 students from 332 community colleges applied this year for the scholarship. The foundation evaluates submissions based on students’ academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence and leadership.
Several colleges have multiple students this year earning the honor. Miami Dade College in Florida has five recipients, while Bronx Community College in New York, Bergen Community College in New Jersey and Diablo Valley College in California, among others, have four students. Several colleges have three and two students.