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FOUR NOVA graduates named 2016 Jack Kent Cooke Scholars

Students react as they learn they have been given prestigious JKCF Scholarship.

Northern Virginia Community College is extremely pleased to announce that an unprecedented four of its 2016 graduates have been awarded the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The scholarship provides up to $40,000 per year for tuition, books, living expenses and required fees for the final two to three years necessary to earn a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university. The winners are:

  • Derrick Arthur-Cudjoe, Alexandria Campus
  • Nooshin Bashiri, Annandale Campus
  • Shahrozia Imtiaz, Loudoun Campus
  • Manisha Khatri, Woodbridge Campus

All those selected have demonstrated financial need and hold excellent records of academic achievement, as evidenced by their grades, leadership skills, awards, extraordinary service to others and perseverance in the face of adversity.

The Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship in the nation for students transferring from two-year community colleges to four-year institutions that award bachelor’s degrees.

NOVA’s four students were selected from 2,600 applications submitted from 1,200 community colleges, nationwide. 75 winners were selected from around the country. NOVA was one of only two community colleges nationally that had four winners this year. Only one other community college in the Virginia Community College System (Piedmont Community College) had a scholarship winner.

“Many have completed numerous Honors courses, and some of these outstanding students have completed the entire Honors curriculum,” said Elizabeth “Libby” Sears, special awards program coordinator for NOVA. “To be selected for the JKC scholarship, students must reflect sophisticated writing, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.”

The students and many attendees wept at the surprise announcement held in NOVA’s administration building on the Annandale Campus. Many named specific professors and advisors who assisted them throughout their time at NOVA, and they thanked them for their help and support.

Dr. Scott Ralls noted that the four students, from four different campuses, all graduated Summa cum Laude and all in the sciences. “We want to celebrate the great stuff that happens at NOVA,” Ralls said. “We are so proud of our incredible students.”

Click Here for a short video of the surprise.



Derrick Arthur-Cudjoe

Alexandria Campus

“Dr. Rhonda Myers (Coordinator for Student Success, NOVA-AL) discovered me. She helped me grow as a leader through the Ambassador Program, Student Government and as a tutor. No matter how far I go in life, I will always come back to NOVA to give back.”

Derrick was born in Ghana, and his family endured many challenges that affected his ability to focus on his education. In his earliest years, he taught himself the alphabet and arithmetic.

He recalls visiting an orphanage in Ghana, and realizing he had an obligation to become educated in order to help others. He told himself that “nothing good comes easily.”  That resolve and determination has served him well.

Derrick graduated this spring Summa cum Laude, with a 3.87 GPA and an A.S. degree in Computer Science as well as a second Career Studies Certificate in Phlebotomy from NOVA’s Medical Education Campus. He has achieved Dean’s List and Presidential Scholar distinction throughout his enrollment at NOVA.  He also named as a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholar. .

Derrick has received numerous awards and recognition for his accomplishments and service during his time at NOVA. He has been active as a student leader, a Student Ambassador,  Student Government Association President, representative to the Alexandria Campus Council, peer tutor in the Academic Success Center, Vice President of NSCS and Honors Coordinator with the Alexandria campus of PTK.    He has volunteered as a Reader & Scribe with the Alexandria campus’ Disability Services unit. 

Derrick has worked as a United Nations Volunteer, with the Malaria Eradication Campaign, to raise public awareness and funding to counter child labor and to fight malaria in an outreach effort to marginalized societies in Ghana, West Africa.

Derrick has been accepted at UVA, VCU, Mary Washington, ODU, GMU, and JMU. He is awaiting a decision from Georgetown University.


Nooshin Bashiri

Annandale Campus

“Thank you so much. Support is what we need more than anything. Thank you for all your support.”

Nooshin Bashiri is one of three students recommended by Northern Virginia Community College President Scott Ralls for Georgetown University’s Community College Preferred Consideration Program. She is also one of four winners of the 2016 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

When she moved to the United States from Iran ten years ago, Nooshin did not know English. When she had her son –now 8 years old – Nooshin said he became her motivation. When her son started kindergarten, Nooshin followed suit and started taking ESL classes part-time at NOVA while her son was in school. At the time, her only knowledge of the English language was what she learned from television.

In September 2013, she became a full-time student at NOVA and started her very first job as a tutor in the Math and Science Center at the Annandale Campus where she is now a lead tutor. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA and will receive her associate in science degree in pre-dentistry. Nooshin plans to attend Georgetown University and eventually go into dentistry.

Nooshin said being considered for acceptance at Georgetown is a longtime dream. Her father is a dentist in Iran, and he turned down the opportunity to attend Georgetown many years ago to care for his family.

“Georgetown is my dream school. I’ve always had in my mind that I would come here and apply for Georgetown University,” she said.


Shahrozia Imtiaz

Loudoun Campus

"I was a DACA student, and I grew up in the U.S with little recollection of my life in Pakistan. When I began looking at colleges, I became afraid I would be sent back to Pakistan if I could not pay for college—it costs on average $60,000 for international student tuition, and DACA applicants are considered international for all colleges except for public universities within the state they reside. Even within the public universities, DACA applicants have to find a way to fund their education since they are not eligible for any federal, state, or institutional aid. Since almost all private schools strongly take into account how much tuition an international student can provide, I knew the chances of getting into private universities was minuscule. To learn that the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship can also help with college and graduate school was amazing, and so many doors are open to me now that were closed before I was chosen for this scholarship!"

Shahrozia enrolled at NOVA through the Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program. She also received a two-year NOVA Honors Scholarship that covered the expense of tuition and books for her entire NOVA degree program.

She graduated Summa cum Laude, with 3.96 GPA with an Associate degree in Science.  Her degree program included 32 credits completed within the NOVA Honors program.  Shahrozia, completed a total of 90 credits at NOVA and consistently earned Dean’s List, and Presidential Scholar honors throughout her enrollment at NOVA.  This year, she has been named as a Semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

She is Vice President of Phi Theta Kappa, Officer in the Loudoun Campus Honors Club, an active member in the National Society of Collegiate Honors and is active in several other Loudoun campus clubs and associations. She is also certified as an Emergency Medical Technician.

Shahrozia was born in a small rural village in Pakistan.  When she was nine, her family moved to the United States so that she and her brothers could pursue an education. 

Through all of the adjustment and challenges she has experienced, Shahrozia has never abandoned her passionate curiosity and fascination with the world around her, and she decided that the answers to her increasingly complex questions could be found in the sciences.

Her experience, accomplishments and determination landed her an internship with a prestigious research program through Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where she is participating in high level scientific research and acquiring hands-on laboratory experience, observing neuron and circuit function in Drosophila (fruit fly behavior).

Shahrozia plans to pursue an MD-Ph.D and hopes to work as a pediatrician and to pursue Neuroscience as her Ph.D. She has been accepted to UVA’s Neuroscience program and is awaiting a decision from Georgetown University, as well.


Manisha Khatri

Woodbridge Campus

“My sister was saving her money for me to go to college. Now I can tell her that I will be going to John’s Hopkins University, a college that is very competitive and very expensive. I can realize my dream of becoming an OB/GYN and helping women in the third world who do not have the opportunity or proper medical care. One of my professors told me once, ‘I will hear your name getting a Nobel Prize one day.’ I can’t tell you how grateful I am.”

Manisha Khatri graduated this spring from NOVA with an A.S. in Science, Summa cum Laude, with a 3.85 GPA, after completing 76 credits.

While growing up within a Pakistani family, she was always looking for new opportunities. She often thought, “my life is so much more interesting inside my head.” 

Throughout her time at NOVA, Manisha has achieved Dean’s List and Presidential Scholar distinction. Her accomplishments have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Dr. Belle S. Wheelan Endowed Scholarship and the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Manisha has devoted many hours to tutoring NOVA students in Science and Math courses, as well as Spanish, English and Communications.  She has also served as a Teaching Assistant to NOVA instructors. She has been a student leader at NOVA, as an officer of NSCS. She has been an active member of the Woodbridge chapter of PTK and a volunteer mentor with the Boys and Girls Club and the Indian Cultural Heritage Show.

Manisha’s passion is to become a medical doctor specializing in OBGYN, and she hopes to help impoverished women in third-world countries with basic medical and hygiene needs.

Manisha has been accepted at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University. 


Media Contact: Kathy Thompson | 703.764.0896 | kthompson@nvcc.edu



About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. By offering the largest scholarships in the country, comprehensive counseling and other support services to students from 7th grade to graduate school, the Foundation is dedicated to ensuring high-performing, low-income stude0nts have the support necessary to develop their talents and excel educationally. In addition to its scholarship programs, the Foundation provides grants for innovative, high-impact initiatives that benefit such students. By doing so, the Cooke Foundation seeks to use its resources to end the Excellence Gap, the disparity between the number of low and high income students who reach the top levels of academic performance. Founded in 2000, the Foundation has awarded $130 million in scholarships to 1,900 students and over $80 million in grants. www.jkcf.org


Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.