Phoenix College Student Honored By Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Winner of Kent Cooke Scholarship

PHOENIX (April 28, 2020) – Phoenix College (PC) student Maria Rodriquez has been named one of 50 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation prestigious community college transfer scholars. Rodriquez’s major is Applied Computing, specializing in Cyber, and she plans to transfer to Arizona State University in the fall to study cyber-security. 

Through the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, the Foundation supports high-achieving community college students as they transfer to some of the top four-year institutions in the country to complete their bachelor’s degrees. This year’s semifinalists were chosen from a pool of nearly 1,500 applicants attending 311 community colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia. 

Rodriquez knows the importance of life-changes in the face of challenges. Without scholarships and FAFSA, the high school drop-out says she wouldn’t even be at PC. 

“I’m a wife and mother of two boys, plus a first-generation college student,” she said. “I want to share my experiences because it can help other students.”

Since 2018, Rodriquez has participated in National Science Foundation-funded undergraduate research studying how Pseudomonas bacteria can biodegrade microplastic contaminants in water sources. In April of 2019, she presented her research at the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Sciences conference, which is an interstate conference with participants from various states and Mexico. It was there that Rodriquez’s long hours in the research lab, integral knowledge of the project, and the ability to explain her work to both scientists and citizens, alike, were finally recognized. Representing her research group, Rodriquez's poster presentation was awarded first place out of 70 other projects. That experience helped inspire the PC student to become a vocal advocate for undergraduate research at the community college level. 

“I could not be more proud of Maria and her selection for the highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship," said Dr. Larry Johnson, Phoenix College President. "This achievement is outstanding and shines a light on the amazing efforts and perseverance of our students. Maria's accomplishment highlights the persistence and efforts of our student community. We wish Maria well in her future academic and professional pursuits and we take pride as the institution where she began her journey." 

“We know this is a very uncertain time for many students and their families. We remain deeply committed to supporting high-achieving community college students to ensure they have the resources to reach their full academic potential,” said Seppy Basili, Executive Director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “We are excited to welcome this new class of Cooke Transfer Scholars to our community and looking forward to seeing the many amazing things they do as they continue on their transfer journey.”

In addition to financial support, new Cooke Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising from the Foundation to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year college and preparing for their careers. Scholars will additionally receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as a connection to a thriving network of over 2,700 Cooke Scholars and alumni.

A list of the 2020 Cooke Transfer Scholars, including the community colleges and states they represent, can be found here. 

Please contact Erika Keenan, Marketing Manager at for media inquiries. 

About Phoenix College: 

Phoenix College is the flagship of the 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. The College will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2020. Phoenix College offers academic courses leading to associate degrees, university transfer, certificates and short-term job training to more than 17,000 students annually.