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MassBay Student Awarded Prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship
WELLESLEY HILLS (May 19, 2016) — Massachusetts Bay Community College is pleased to announce student Stacy Okada has been named a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, the largest and most prestigious scholarship for community college students in the country. Okada is the only MassBay student this year to receive this award, which includes up to $40,000 each year for up to three years to cover tuition and school-related expenses to complete her bachelor’s degrees at four-year institution. She is also the only community college student in the nation this year to receive the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the highest national undergraduate prize for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. Okada has also been awarded the Foster Furcolo Scholarship, which is awarded to one graduate of each public community college in Massachusetts to attend UMass Boston covering tuition and most mandatory fees.
“Stacy has earned the largest and one of the most prestigious scholarship awards that any community college student can be given, the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship,” said MassBay Coordinator of Transfer Affairs and Articulations Rhian Waterberg. “We salute Stacy’s amazing accomplishments and unwavering dedication to her family and her studies.”
Okada, who majored in Biotechnology with a focus on forensic science at MassBay, will attend University of Massachusetts Boston in the fall to study Biochemistry. She plans to pursue a doctorate in either Molecular Biology or Biochemistry, with an emphasis on mentoring non-traditional women in STEM. Through the biotechnology program, she and fellow students worked on real-life active cases, from assisting district attorneys with forensics DNA analysis to working the “Lady of the Dunes” case, the oldest open murder case in New England. While at MassBay, she was chosen for The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) ten week summer program at Boston University. Okada is a married mother of two children, ages 2 ½ and 6, and lives in Wellesley.
“When my daughter was entering Kindergarten, I spoke to her about where school would take her and how important it was,” said Okada. “I decided to take a few classes at MassBay and thought it would be great to earn a college degree of my own. Never did I imagine I would be honored with the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. This distinction is proof to anyone beginning their journey a little later in life, as I have, that it is truly never too late to pursue your dreams.”
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country. Selection criteria focus on academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, leadership, and a desire to help others.