Three honors students earn 2016 prestigious Jack Kent Cooke scholarships

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Written by: Seminole State Staff

For the second year in a row, multiple honors students at Seminole State College of Florida were named winners of one of the nation’s most prestigious and lucrative scholarships.

Flavio Pacheco, Tatiana Calvo and Latifah Maasarani were awarded the Jack Kent Cooke (JKC) Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship – worth up to $40,000 a year to complete a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university and up to $50,000 a year to pursue graduate studies. Combined, the awards have the potential to yield nearly $1 million in scholarship funding for the three students.

“[These students] are great examples of the caliber of students that we have here at Seminole State College, and we are beyond proud of their academic achievements and their contributions to their community,” said Seminole State College President Dr. E. Ann McGee. “We have had more than a dozen Jack Kent Cooke recipients, and both these students continue the legacy of positive change and impact that extends far beyond the classroom.”

Pacheco, Calvo and Maasarani were among only 75 students selected from a competitive nationwide pool of more than 2,000 applicants representing hundreds of colleges. All of the winners show financial need and strong records of academic achievement as indicated by grades, leadership skill, awards, extraordinary service to others and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Seminole State was one of just eleven colleges nationwide to have multiple students win a JKC scholarship. The JKC Foundation announced Pacheco and Calvo as scholarship winners on May 13, and then surprised Seminole State by selecting Maasarani a week later.

Seminole State’s winning students all are products of the Grindle Honors Institute and Pi Lambda, the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK).

Flavio Umeda Pacheca

Flavio Umeda Pacheco, 19, of Longwood, was born in Florida but lived in Brazil for 15 years. When safety concerns brought him back to Florida in 2014, he enrolled in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses at Seminole State. After progressing quickly, he began working toward an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree with a focus in biology, which he will receive this summer. He served as diversity chair for the Student Government Association in 2015. He has volunteered his time at Florida Hospital, Give Kids the World, Harvest Time International and the Foundation for Seminole State College. After graduation, he plans to transfer to Cornell University, where he will work toward a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with hopes of applying to medical school and becoming a pediatric surgeon to assist children in need.

Tatiana Calvo,

Tatiana Calvo, 26, of Windermere and originally from Colombia, moved to Florida in 2001. She spent several years after graduating high school in 2008 trying to overcome immigration issues and work toward her college degree. When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program began in 2012, she enrolled at Seminole State, with assistance from the Hope CommUnity Center. She has been recognized on the President’s List for multiple semesters. Additionally, she volunteered doing outreach at immigration detention centers and she worked as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm. This summer, she will earn her A.A. with a focus in political science. She hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science at either the University of Miami or New York University before pursuing her law degree. Her goal is to provide legal assistance to underprivileged individuals experiencing immigration hardships.

Latifah Maasarani

Latifah Maasarani, 23, of Winter Springs, took a two-year hiatus between high school and college. When she began at Seminole State, she was unable to receive federal aid or financial assistance from her family, so she worked full-time to support herself and pay for her education. While at Seminole State, she promoted science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) involvement by serving as president of the STEM Club during the 2015-16 academic year, during which time she helped expose dozens of students to computer programming (especially in the C++ language) and helped connect students with the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, intended to encourage minority participation in STEM fields. She earned her A.A. degree with a focus in photonic science and engineering, graduating summa cum laude with an Honors Diploma and a Science Merit Diploma. She will participate in an applied physics undergraduate research experience at the University of South Florida this summer, where she will work with quantum and nonlinear optics, before beginning work on a bachelor’s degree in photonic science and engineering at the University of Central Florida with a double-minor in mathematics and physics. After graduate work in physics, she hopes to pursue an engineering career working with medical laser technology.

Since 2006, Seminole State has produced a total of 15 JKC scholars, including a national record-tying four scholarship recipients in 2015. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation says its Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is to community college graduates what the Rhodes Scholarship is to overseas study.

JKC Scholarships fund the costs of attending college not covered by other financial aid, plus academic advising, stipends for internships, study abroad and opportunities to network with other JKC scholars and alumni.

About the Grindle Honors Institute

The Grindle Honors Institute offers programs for academically talented students who want to enrich their experience and engage in honors activities at Seminole State College of Florida. For more information, please visit the Grindle Honors Institute website.