Seminole State student named a 2022 Jack Kent Cooke Scholar

Thursday, May 12, 2022
Written by: Mark Richardson

PHOTO: Seminole State President Dr. Georgia L. Lorenz, left, and Student Government Association President of the Altamonte Springs Campus Yesmene Chikha. Chikha presented the student challenge during the College’s May 2 commencement at the Addition Financial Arena at the University of Central Florida.

Seminole State College student Yesmene Chikha is one of 100 recipients of the  Jack Kent Cooke (JKC) Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, one of the nation’s most prestigious and lucrative scholarships.

The highly competitive national scholarship will provide Chikha with up to $55,000 a year to complete her bachelor’s degree.  

Yesmene Chikha

Chikha, of Altamonte Springs, started at Seminole State in Fall 2020 and graduated earlier this month with her Associate in Arts degree.

During her time at the College, she served as the Student Government Association President for the Altamonte Springs Campus, Region 3 Coordinator for the Florida College System’s Student Government Association, and the Seminole State Volunteers and Women in Tech programs.

She also served on the College Advisory Council, Speaker Series and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committees. Academically, Yesmene, a H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Pursue Education) Scholars program participant, has received a multitude of scholarships and earned the President’s List award for her academic achievements.

Chikha delivered the Student Challenge Speech at the College’s May 2 commencement at the Addition Financial Arena at University of Central Florida. 

“Becoming a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship recipient has given me the confidence to take hold of my dreams and run with them full speed ahead,” Chikha said. “I am extremely honored to have been chosen for such a prestigious award, and it would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the support and guidance of Seminole State.”

Chikha plans to attend New York University and major in computer science with a focus in combining technology and design. This will result in her becoming a user interface and user experience Designer.

In the 2020-21 academic year, four-year colleges and universities saw nearly 200,000 fewer transfer enrollment applications nationwide, reflecting the pandemic’s disruptive effect on students and their plans for college. Despite that decline, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation welcomed its largest class of Scholars to date, highlighting the talent and achievement of hundreds of community college students across the country. In light of growing financial hardship for so many families, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation also increased the maximum award amount by an extra $15,000 to ensure students can focus on their studies while enrolled.  

“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,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “Congratulations to a cohort of students who have persisted in the midst of such unprecedented disruptions in our lives. We welcome you into our community and look forward to learning alongside you.”

New Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year college and preparing for their careers. Along with financial support, Scholars will additionally receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a thriving network of over nearly 3,000 Cooke Scholars and Alumni.

Since 2006, Seminole State has produced a total of 22 JKC scholarship recipients.  

This year, more than 1,200 students from 332 community colleges applied to receive the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Foundation evaluated each submission based on students’ academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, and leadership.

A list of this year’s Cooke Transfer Scholars, their community colleges, and their hometowns can be found here.

About Seminole State College

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit
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