Seminole State College of Florida honors student Daniel Leon is one of only 60 students in the country to be named a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar for 2011.
Leon was overcome with emotion when he learned at Seminole State’s April 29 Commencement that he had won the scholarship. Worth $30,000 annually, the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship is considered the largest in the nation for community or state college transfer students.
Leon’s scholarship makes Seminole State the only college in the nation with six consecutive Jack Kent Cooke scholars since 2006. It also means that, over the past six years, Honors Institute students have graduated from Seminole State with up to $360,000 in scholarship money from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship program.
Leon, a native of Venezuela and a graduate of Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, says being part of the Art & Phyllis Grindle Honors Institute challenged him like never before.
“I was really pushed throughout the entire honors program to think outside the box and to want to keep learning,” says Leon, 21. “The faculty provided me with everything I needed. They met with me countless times and really pushed me to try to go further.”
In the fall, Leon will attend American University in Washington, D.C., majoring in international studies and arts management. A singer and dance instructor, Leon’s goal is to develop a nonprofit organization that will use the performing arts as a way to combat hunger. He also wants to train other young people “to create social change within their community.”
Dr. Laura Ross, dean of Arts and Sciences, says Seminole State’s Honors Institute is focused on developing students.
"We have a system in place that identifies potential candidates early in their academic career,” Ross says. “Then we encourage them to take on leadership roles and community service. We’ve had six consecutive Jack Kent Cooke Scholars, an impressive feat, but many more of our students go on to win thousands in scholarships and transfer to elite universities.”
As a result of the faculty’s encouragement, Leon also has received more than $30,000 in additional scholarships, including:
Among Seminole State’s previous Jack Kent Cooke winners are Lalita Booth, a Truman Scholar who is working toward her master’s degree at Harvard University; and Isa Adney, who now works for Seminole State and was recently featured on USA Today’s college website.
For more information about Seminole State’s Art & Phyllis Grindle Honors Institute, visit the honors website, or call 407.708.2062.
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