Three NOVA Students Awarded Prestigious Community College Transfer Scholarship

May 12, 2022

Lansdowne, VA (May 12, 2022) – Three Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) students are among the 100 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. This highly competitive national scholarship will provide three NOVA Nighthawks – Anastasia Duenas, Kerri Langhorne and Meelod Waheed – with up to $55,000 a year to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Three NOVA Students Awarded Prestigious Community College Transfer Scholarship

“I am grateful to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for generously supporting Anastasia Duenas, Kerri Langhorne and Meelod Waheed on their journeys to complete their educational dreams,” said Anne M. Kress, president of NOVA. “These three students have bright futures ahead of them and truly have the potential to change the world. I am thankful for the NOVA faculty and staff who helped them grow as scholars and leaders, and couldn’t be more proud of Anastasia, Kerri and Meelod. They exemplify the remarkable and inspiring talents of our bold and diverse NOVA Nighthawks student body and are so deserving of this recognition.”

Anastasia Duenas is an accomplished researcher who has presented at honors symposiums and participated in the NASA Community College Scholars program. She aims to make impactful change in the field of medical research. She has already written research articles on multi-cancer early detection testing and works hard to bring to light health disparities within communities. Duenas returned to NOVA after initially starting in 2015 and pausing her studies in 2016 after she became critically ill. She currently serves as the president of both the NOVA Alexandria Honors Club and the Alexandria Phi Theta Kappa chapter. After graduation, Duenas plans on pursuing a MD-PhD degree program and has applied to continue her education at the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Swarthmore College, Brown and Yale. Read more about her here

Kerri Langhorne is already an inventor, entrepreneur, single mom, an in-demand equine athletic recovery therapist and holder of a patent for a top-of-the-line horse recovery supplement. After working many years, Langhorne returned to college and will be graduating Summa Cum Laude from NOVA this spring. Langhorne plans to pursue a doctorate degree in equine research and has applied to Yale, Cornell, William & Mary and Texas A&M. Read more about her here.

Meelod Waheed is a future engineer who has always had an interest in machine learning, artificial intelligence and helping underserved communities. His time growing up in Afghanistan stoked his interest in helping others as he left with his family as refugees to immigrate to the U.S. While at NOVA, he interned at NASA and served as the president of five student clubs and organizations at the institution. As the current president of the Woodbridge Campus Phi Theta Kappa honor society, he launched a fundraising campaign which raised $10,000 dollars for the NOVA Educational Foundation. He plans on continuing his studies in computer science and hopes to launch a start up in the FinTech industry. Read more about him here.

In the 2020-21 academic year, four-year colleges and universities saw nearly 200,000 fewer transfer enrollment applications nationwide, reflecting the pandemic’s disruptive effect on students and their plans for college. Despite that decline, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation welcomed its largest class of Scholars to date, highlighting the talent and achievement of hundreds of community college students across the country. In light of growing financial hardship for so many families, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation also increased the maximum award amount by $15,000 to ensure students can focus on their studies while enrolled.

“Today, almost half of all college students begin their academic career at a community college. We know our community colleges are full of high-achieving students, and we’re committed to playing our part to ensure those students succeed,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “Congratulations to a cohort of students who have persisted in the midst of such unprecedented disruptions in our lives. We welcome you into our community and look forward to learning alongside you.”

New Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year college and preparing for their careers. Along with financial support, Scholars will additionally receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a thriving network of over nearly 3,000 Cooke Scholars and Alumni.

This year, more than 1,200 students from 332 community colleges applied to receive the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Foundation evaluated each submission based on students’ academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, and leadership.

A list of this year’s Cooke Transfer Scholars, their community colleges, and their hometowns can be found here.

Media Contact
Julia Florence, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Hoang Nguyen, Northern Virginia Community College

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded $230 million in scholarships to nearly 3,000 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $125 million in grants to organizations that serve such students.

Topics: press release