News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

Date: May 15, 2003 (03-46)
Contact: Steve Simon, 240-567-7952

Coveted Scholarships Help Transferring Montgomery College Students
MC Students Earn Highly Competitive Cooke Foundation Scholarships, Among Others

At this time of year, thousands of Montgomery College students are preparing to transfer to four-year institutions of higher education in order to complete their bachelor’s degree.  Montgomery College – like most community colleges – offers associate degrees and certificates, and successfully prepares students for transfer to colleges and universities throughout the nation, but does not have a baccalaureate program.

A recent Montgomery College study found that an average of 31 percent of its credit students – roughly 10,000 in number – transferred to a four-year institution between September 1999 and December 2002.  Although well prepared academically, many find the obstacle to the next level of their college journey to be the financial hurdle. Scholarships are often the only way many of these students will be able to continue their pursuit of an education at more costly, selective four-year schools, after completing their studies at a community college. 

Recently, three Montgomery College students—representing each of the three campuses, at Germantown, Rockville and Takoma Park—landed coveted academic scholarships that will enable them to continue to pursue their education dreams. Two of them—Donald Washington, Jr., from the Rockville Campus, and Carine Nadem, from the Germantown Campus—were named recipients of the highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarships, earning them up to $30,000 in aid for their tuition, fees, room and board, during each of the next two years. This fall, Washington will be transferring to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. and Nadem will be going to Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

A third Montgomery College student, Thomas Gibson, from Takoma Park Campus, recently snagged a $25,000 scholarship from Morgan State University to attend the Maryland institution, beginning this fall.

Washington and Nadem were among only 15 community college transfer students nationally, and 30 undergraduate students overall, to have earned the Cooke awards. Each institution was only permitted to nominate two students for these awards and the 30 total awardees were selected from a nationwide pool of 1,150 applicants.

“These three Montgomery College students are shining examples of the kinds of success stories that can so often be found here and at many other community colleges across the country,” said Dr. Charlene R. Nunley, president of Montgomery College. “We’re incredibly proud of their accomplishments and of those of the many others they represent, and we’re deeply grateful to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for its unparalleled commitment to providing scholarship opportunities for deserving and hard-working community college transfer students.”

Following are some highlights of the accomplishments and future plans of the three Montgomery College students who have earned these major scholarships:

  • Donald Washington, a Silver Spring resident, plans to transfer to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., where he will major in journalism.  While at Montgomery College, he has served as editor-in-chief of The Advocate, the student newspaper at the Rockville Campus, and maintains a 3.8 grade point average.  This past summer, he worked as a paid intern in New York City at Scholastic, Inc., the world’s largest children’s book publisher.  Washington and four other African American students worked on a project to increase African American child literacy.  He was invited to return again this summer. His dream is to one day own and publish a newspaper that focuses on African American issues often overlooked by the mainstream media.

    Washington’s academic accomplishments are particularly significant, considering he lives in a men’s homeless shelter.  He also lives apart from his mother, who lives in a homeless shelter for women.  At the shelter, rules require him to turn off his bedroom light at 11 p.m., so he often studies at the College library, by day.  Furthermore, Washington often sacrificed food for his education because he was not able to return to the shelter by its specified dinner time.  Another seemingly insurmountable odd—the fact that he suffers from Fibromyalgia, a condition similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome—did not stand in Washington’s path to success.  College professors say he simply structured his life and studies to achieve optimum results. 

    “What really impresses me about Donald is his burning desire to help others in need,” says Clifton McKnight, associate professor and counselor at the Rockville Campus and one of Washington’s mentors. “[Even] before leaving the shelter system, he has expressed interest in using [his future income] to help out young and less fortunate African American students of promise who would like to attend college…and to use his wealth to …help others less fortunate than he is.”

  • Carine Nadem, who lives in Germantown, is the second Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Scholarship winner from Montgomery College.  At the College’s Germantown Campus, Nadem studies pre-med and is a member of the College’s selective Biomedical Scholars program.  With a perfect 4.0 GPA, she was named to the 2003 All-Maryland First Academic Team for community colleges, and was recently named the Montgomery College Board of Trustees scholar from the Germantown Campus.  After graduating with her associate’s degree from MC at the College’s upcoming commencement ceremony on May 23, she will pursue premedical studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. Her ultimate goal is to become a physician.

    Nadem was born in Cameroon, but left friends and some family behind in 1998 to pursue an education in America.  Not only does she attend Montgomery College, Nadem works part-time at Target and at Quality Biological, Inc., a biotechnology company involved in research and development for a potential AIDS vaccine as well as the manufacture of cell culture and biology reagents.  She describes her internship as “the most life-transforming and challenging experience that I have had.”

    Robert Coley, professor of chemistry at the Germantown Campus and one of Nadem’s mentors, says, “Over the years, I have seen many students move through my life…but few have combined the native intelligence, the drive and personality like Carine has. She is a star, and her potential is unlimited.”

  • Thomas Gibson, a business administration major at the Takoma Park Campus of Montgomery College, received a $25,000 scholarship to continue his business studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md.  He dreams of working in marketing for a few years, then owning his own business.

    At Montgomery College, Gibson holds a 3.7 GPA.  When he’s not pursuing academics, Gibson helps the homeless, donates time to his church, and works two jobs: as a laboratory assistant at the College’s Takoma Park Campus, and as an usher 27 hours a week at AMC City Place Theatre in Silver Spring, Md.  He was recently inducted into the Montgomery College chapter of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and is a member of the Rotaract Business Club and the Christian Club, both based at the Takoma Park Campus.

    Gibson’s ultimate goal is to establish his own nonprofit network called “Guardian Network.”  He says he already has the plans, initial support, and fundraising ideas in place.  The “Guardian Network” would help economically disadvantaged people seek financial independence, obtain maximum educational levels, and receive a spiritual foundation.

    “MC has changed my life,” said Gibson, a Silver Spring resident. “It’s matured me, and has built my character. It’s made me into the businessman I am and will become. I’ve grown into a mature, responsible young man thanks to MC.”

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