Grants launch dreams into inception

Kennedy King scholarship selects students for prestigious merits, needed funds

By Roxana Amparo, News Editor

Fourteen Contra Costa College students were awarded the Kennedy-King Memorial College Scholarship for their dedicated efforts in academics and community involvement.

The Kennedy-King Memorial College Scholarship is given annually and has been a financial relief for community college students in Contra Costa County seeking to transfer to four-year institutions.

Since 1968 it has given $8,000 to each eligible student from the three Contra Costa Community Colleges: CCC, Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College.

“Contra Costa College students are very competitive for scholarships,” Kennedy-King Scholarship Board President John McPeak said.

Recipients from CCC are Valeria Avila, Nubia Azuara, Chanel Barton, Brandon Cipriano, Jose Jimenez, Arin Keel, Jeanette Martinez, Alexis Mercado, Natalie Ramirez, Gonzalo Reyes, Stephanie Rico, Christian Talavera, Brenda Vega and Darling Zamora.

Biochemistry major Vega said, “It was astonishing to see how many people were there (at DVC for the semi-finalist interviews), but it felt good knowing that a lot were from CCC and a lot were my friends.”

She said the scholarship money will help pay her tuition in part, as will other sources of financial aid, such as money from FAFSA and work studies.

McPeak said the scholarship committee looks for students with “reasonably strong” academics, a 3.0 or better, and who have evidence of making a difference in the community, whether it be through on-campus clubs or volunteering at a church.

This extends the opportunity to students like sustainable environmental design major Cipriano, who was made eligible by his involvement with the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society, The Puente Club and METAS, among others.

“I’ve never won anything, so I wasn’t expecting to get it,” he said.

Cipriano and other recipients were on a trip with the Puente Club when they received the good news.

“When I got home and opened the door, my parents started crying, and then we both started crying,” he said.

He said students looking to apply for next year’s Kennedy-King Scholarship should apply regardless of the outcome, and to not be disappointed because the feedback can be applicable elsewhere.

The applicant must also be part of an underrepresented group and have sufficient units to transfer to a four-year institution for the next fall term.

McPeak said the number of students selected depends on the funds raised. Scholarship donations come from all over Contra Costa County and donations range from $100 from individuals to the full $8,000 from businesses.

The money goes toward paying tuition for the university of choice and the students receive four installments of $2,000 per semester, he said.

Before the official semi-finalist interviews at DVC on March 28, students had the chance to attend a mock interview in conference room AA-216 to prepare them for the real thing.

Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson said students were given feedback on the way they dressed, spoke and they way they responded to the questions.

Nursing major Burton said the mock interview gave her some clarity on what type of questions might be asked during the real interview and how to respond.

La Raza studies major Martinez said the feedback received at the mock interview allowed her to “elaborate and stick to a point” when it came to the real interview.

Recipient Ramirez said winning the scholarship made her feel accomplished because she knows her hard work paid off.

This year’s scholarship award event will be on May 15 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Concord at 6 p.m. Individual tickets will be on sale for $75 each.