Scholarship supports underrepresented at four-year schools

Annual endowment assists students financially upon transfer to a four-year institution

By Yesenia Melara, Staff Writer

Eleven Contra Costa College students each received a $10,000 Kennedy-King Scholarship for their hard work and dedication. The money can be used when they transfer to the four-year college or university of their choice.

These students were selected to receive the scholarship for demonstrating their willingness to continue their education and commitment to come back as contributing members of their community.

“Our overall goal is to assist minority students in completing their four-year undergraduate degrees and for them to come back as leaders and inspire their community to do the same as well,” Kennedy-King Board President John McPeak said.

There were 25 undergraduate scholarships awarded to students from the Contra Costa Community College District.

Of the 25 undergraduate scholarships, 11 came from CCC, 11 from Los Medanos College and three from Diablo Valley College, McPeak said.

The recipients from CCC are Gloria Alvarado Cardena, Adriana Amado, Opal Franklin, Jocelyn Garcia, Mikiyas Hailu, Nina Hill, Magali Mercado, Javier Ochoa-Reyes, Jorge Orellana, Karen Ramirez and Dante Romero.

In order to qualify for the Kennedy-King Scholarship, the applicants had to complete their FAFSA, provide three letters of recommendation, a copy of their transcripts and complete their scholarship application to meet the Feb. 5 deadline, he said.

Scholarship Coordinator Mia Henderson-Bonilla said she was notified about the students that the scholarship committee wanted to interview for the scholarship.

“First they had to go through mock interviews around March 15 and 18 to sharpen their professional skills and get them comfortable for the real interview,” she said.

Franklin, a sociology major, said the mock interview helped her prepare for the final interview, held at DVC.

English major Mercado said that at the end of the interview the applicants were asked if there was anything else they wanted to add.

“I remember thinking this was my last opportunity to prove myself and show I was worthy of the scholarship,” she said. “I was crying and telling them my struggles and how I want to further my education. I was showing them my true self.”

During the interview, students were asked questions about their backgrounds, majors and what motivates them to continue their college education, Orellana, a computer science major, said.

He said part of the application process was challenging for him to complete.

For these students, finding out that they were recipients of the scholarship was a moment of happiness because of the effort they put toward the scholarship, had eventually paid off.

“There were times I wanted to give up,” Franklin said. “But something always told me to keep going.”

Henderson-Bonilla said that scholarships like the Kennedy-King Scholarship are a good thing to have because college is expensive.

“These 11 (CCC) students who took  time to apply for the Kennedy-King Scholarship deserve it. They have one less college expense to worry about,” she said.  

Mercado said she encourages transferring students to apply next year for the Kennedy-King Scholarship.

“Don’t be scared of applying because you never know what can happen,” Mercado said. “Also be yourself when going for the real interview.”