Lansdowne, Va. — As thousands of young men and women across the country received their baccalaureate degrees this past spring, some began preparing for their next scholarly challenge. Included in that group are 34 remarkable students who will continue their education thanks to the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Program. The recipients, chosen after a nationwide selection process that drew 977 nominees, were named this week.

The Graduate Scholarships cover tuition, room, board, fees, and books up to $300,000. The scholarships are the most generous academic awards offered in the United States.

"We´re extremely proud to award much-needed and well-deserved scholarships to these students," said Joshua Wyner, executive vice president at the Foundation. "The Foundation´s objective is to help advance the education of high-achieving, low-income students across the country at every level of education. By investing in these exceptional college graduates, we hope to further unleash their potential to become leaders and visionaries in their respective fields."

Now in its sixth year, the Cooke graduate scholarship program has awarded more than 300 scholarships. Wyner noted that "word about the program is getting around" in the academic world, and it is now one of the most sought after graduate scholarships.

The exact amount and duration of the scholarships vary by student, based on the cost of attendance and length of the graduate program, as well as other scholarships or grants the student has received. The recipients (full list below) will pursue graduate study in wide-ranging fields, including medicine, law, education, painting, international relations, and architecture, among others. The scholars include five pursuing degrees in the arts, reflecting one of the late Mr. Cooke´s passions.

Students attending any accredited college or university in the United States were eligible to apply. Each institution could nominate up to two students. Candidates then underwent a rigorous assessment at two stages by independent panels of academic experts, including graduate school deans, admissions counselors, and faculty. The selection criteria included academic achievement and financial need, as well as a will to succeed, leadership, and community involvement.

The new Jack Kent Cooke Scholars include:

? In the midst of his undergraduate program at the University of Oregon, Noah Smith became paralyzed in an automobile accident. He raised money to fund his specialized rehabilitation therapy, resumed his education, and graduated summa cum laude. He plans to pursue a law career and will enter the J.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley this fall. Noah is involved in paralysis-related advocacy efforts at the state and national levels and will combine the necessity and urgency he feels as a patient-advocate with the knowledge of a legal education.

? Matthew Loftus was home-schooled after kindergarten and enrolled in community college at the age of 14. The eldest of 13 children, Matthew traveled to Mexico, Haiti, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, and Yemen during the next several years, serving children in need and assisting with AIDS support groups. He was a 2004 recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation´s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, for community college students transferring to selective 4-year colleges and universities, and he now plans to attend medical school at the University of Maryland so that he can work as a physician in international relief and development.

? Quyen Vo. After a long journey from Vietnam to impoverished East Oakland, then to a private college preparatory school on scholarship and onward to Yale, Quyen is grateful for his educational opportunities. He chose a diverse and demanding undergraduate curriculum at Yale, and for graduate school he plans to do the same. He aims to study economic and social history, then pursue a Ph.D. investigating poverty and development in a global context. Eventually, Quyen also hopes to obtain a law degree, which will allow him to help defend the rights of the most vulnerable members of society.

The students come from 20 states and 11 foreign nations. California led all states with eight scholars, followed by Maryland with three. The foreign scholars come from Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Honduras, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Korea, Pakistan, and Sudan.

The application deadline for the 2008 Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarships is March 14, 2008. Undergraduates or recent alumni interested in applying should contact their undergraduate institution´s faculty representative for details or visit the Foundation´s website: www.jackkentcookefoundation.org .

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke to help young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. It focuses in particular on students with financial
need. The Foundation´s programs include scholarships to undergraduate, graduate, and high school students, and grants to organizations that serve high-achieving students with financial need.

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