Two WCC students among semifinalists for prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship

March 29, 2024 Rich Rezler


Two Washtenaw Community College students are among 459 community college students nationwide selected as semifinalists for the highly competitive Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship that will provide as much as $165,000 to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Ana Garcia-Osorio and Carmen Samaniego made the semifinal round from a pool of more than 1,600 applicants from 194 community colleges across 37 states. Winners will be announced in May.

Five WCC students have won the scholarship previously, including Ali Kurmasha (2020), Ahmed Ghalib (2019), Paula Salazar (2018), and Fatouma Abdoulaye Idrissa and Susannah Spence (2013).

The scholarship, awarded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, aims to help community college students who have demonstrated exceptional academic ability, leadership, and service transfer to top four-year institutions and avoid student debt. The award, which is last dollar funding after all institutional aid, can provide as much as $55,000 per year for up to three years.

“In light of the challenges that hinder many community college students from achieving their goal of earning a bachelor’s degree, our Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship makes the journey more achievable and helps to eliminate the threat of student debt,” said Seppy Basili, Executive Director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “The exceptional pool of talent among this year’s chosen semifinalists from community colleges showcases the vast potential within these institutions and we look forward to learning more about these students during the final stage of our application review.”



Ana Garcia-OsorioAna Garcia-Osorio is thriving in the WCC Nursing program after spending the past 10 years working in the local healthcare industry. She’s carrying a 3.75 GPA and is a member of the college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Originally from Mexico City, Garcia-Osorio moved to Ann Arbor with her parents at the age of 3 and graduated from Ann Arbor Huron High School. Her journey into healthcare was inspired by caring for her grandfather during his battle with cancer, leading her to obtain her Certified Nursing Assistant certification in 2014.

She has since worked as a CNA at Atria Senior Living and currently serves as a Community Health Worker at Packard Health. In this role, Garcia-Osorio is dedicated to breaking down barriers to healthcare access and improving the well-being of her community.

“WCC gave me the opportunity to continue my education at a low cost even though I’m not a U.S. citizen or resident,” Garcia-Osorio says. “I’ve received guidance from counselors to know what path I had to take to meet my career goals, and that has been essential.”

Not being eligible for federal financial aid has placed a potential obstacle in Garcia-Osorio’s post-WCC educational path. She hopes to transfer to the University of Michigan or Eastern Michigan University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

“I’m a DACA recipient, which has brought many challenges the past few years,” Garcia-Osorio said. “Not being a U.S. citizen has closed many doors, yet I have not given up and I have worked extra hard to achieve good grades to take advantage of the few opportunities offered, such as this Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship.”


Carmen SamaniegoCarmen Samaniego, a single mother of two, capitalized on the Michigan Reconnect scholarship to enroll at WCC in search of a new career path. The State of Michigan found her success story so inspiring, she served as the student representative at a press conference announcing additional funding for the scholarship.

Samaniego’s early Computer Science classes at WCC exposed her to a world of opportunities in the technology space and she found herself drawn to data analysis. She has already been accepted into the University of Michigan School of Information and will complete a WCC General Studies associate degree – specifically chosen to align with a transfer to U-M – after the summer semester.

Samaniego has taken things slowly at WCC, accumulating a 3.5 GPA while taking two classes per semester “so I can really focus on those classes, keep my GPA up and not neglect my other responsibilities like parenting or work outside of school.” She knows things will be different at U-M, which makes an opportunity like the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship so potentially life-changing.

“(The scholarship) would help me focus on school and worry less about other things outside of school,” she said. “Right now, I’m working on the logistics of trying to build my life around being a full-time student. I love what I’m learning, so I want to really focus on it.”

Although Samaniego has been a part-time student at WCC since 2021, she has found time to pack her experience with impactful extra-curricular activities. She’s a member of the college’s STEM Scholars program and participated in two NASA programs – the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars and the NASA L’Space Mission Concept Academy.

Tags: Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, Nursing, Scholarships, Student Success, Transfer

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