MCC Grad Receives Transfer Scholarship

MCC female graduateFernanda Silva Celaya MESA, Ariz. – Fernanda Silva Celaya, a 2014 Mesa Community College graduate, is the recipient of a prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The scholarship will provide her with up to $30,000 a year to pursue her bachelor’s degree at a university of her choice.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country. The Foundation provides as much as $30,000 a year for up to three years to the nation’s best low-income community college students seeking to complete a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university.

Celaya, an honor student and member of Phi Kappa Theta Honor Society, received an Associate of Science degree and General Education Certificate; receiving both with the highest distinction, from MCC in May 2014.

According to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, scholars were selected based on high academic ability and achievements, persistence, leadership, and financial need.

“The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has long been committed to helping outstanding community college students transfer to and succeed at the nation’s top colleges and universities,” said Emily Froimson, vice president of programs at the Foundation. “Since the program started in 2002, the Foundation has supported 643 community college students directly, and thousands more through the Foundation’s grant making initiatives.”

Celaya plans to use the scholarship to transfer to Arizona State University, complete a bachelor’s degree and pursue her goal of becoming a dentist. At MCC, she maintained a 4.0 GPA while working as a tutor and taking care of her elderly grandmother. She did various community services in Mexico and the United States, including the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home.

“I was raised in Mexico within a society with poor economic development during 17 years of my life,” Celaya said.  “I experienced how many people could not sustain basic needs. I saw how a simple toothache affects a person’s life and his or her family. This influenced me to choose to work in this health care career to help, in a given time, all those people who cannot afford to treat their oral health problems.

“It has been a great pleasure to receive this scholarship because it will not only help me pay my education, but now I am part of a community that will help me make connections and receive mentoring to be successful in my path toward my future career. In addition, I will become a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation alumna when I graduate and I will be able to help the future students who receive the JKCF scholarship.”

The Foundation reports this year’s cohort of recipients as the largest in the program’s 13-year history, with 85 finalists selected from 3,705 applications representing 737 community colleges from 48 states, two U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.

The scholarship is intended to cover a significant share of the student’s educational expenses – including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees – for the final two to three years necessary to achieve a bachelor’s degree. Awards vary by individual, based on the cost of tuition as well as other grants or scholarships received.

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Dawn Zimmer (480) 461-7892

About Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College provides outstanding transfer and career and technical programs, workforce development, and life-long learning opportunities to residents of the East Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. MCC excels in teaching, learning and empowering its more than 40,000 students who attend annually to succeed in a local and global community.  Mesa Community College is one of ten colleges that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District. For additional information please visit

About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Because we believe that high-potential, low-income students will excel educationally when given the resources to develop their talents, the Foundation supports exceptional students from elementary school to graduate school through scholarships, grants, direct service, and knowledge creation and dissemination. Founded in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke, the Foundation has awarded $120 million for over 2,000 scholarships and $76 million in grants to organizations that support our mission. 

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Publication Date: 
Wednesday, July 2, 2014