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NOVA Community College alum awarded $40,000 transfer scholarship

scholarship winner
Francesca Raoelison

Francesca Raoelison, a graduate of Northern Virginia Community College is one of 47 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. This highly competitive national scholarship will provide Raoelison with up to $40,000 annually for a maximum of three years to complete her bachelor’s degree.

Originally from Madagascar, Raoelison overcame numerous hardships and economic barriers in her personal life and within her own country. She was persistent in achieving her goal to relocate to the U.S. to pursue an education. After obtaining an F-1 International student visa, in 2014, she migrated to the U.S. to live with her aunt and enrolled at NOVA.

While maintaining a 4.0 GPA, Raoelison held two jobs, an internship, home responsibilities and was actively involved with Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society and as a peer educator with NOVA’s Sexual Assault Services team. In addition to being a Cooke Scholar, Raoelison received a scholarship to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, the nation’s premier conference for college women. In 2017, she was selected from over 1,000 applicants to become a student leader for the Clinton Global Initiative. 

In addition to the monetary award, Raoelison will receive comprehensive educational advising from foundation staff to guide her through the processes of transitioning from a four-year institution into a career. The Foundation will additionally provide opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connections to a thriving network of 2,300 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni.

“Community colleges provide an affordable first step for many students with financial need to begin their higher education journey,” said Harold O. Levy, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “Cooke Transfer Scholars have demonstrated incredible ability and ambition, and we look forward to supporting their success at universities such as Stanford, Cornell and MIT.” 

This year, nearly 2,500 students applied for the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Foundation evaluated each submission based on academic ability, persistence, leadership and service to others. The recipients selected have a median adjusted gross income of $5,000 and an average GPA of 3.92. Biological sciences, engineering and computer/informational sciences are the most popular fields of study among the cohort.

Raoelison graduated from NOVA in 2017 as summa cum laude, with an associate’s degree in liberal arts/psychology. She plans to further her education in organizational psychology with hopes of developing a non-profit organization in her native country. 

About The Cooke Foundation

The Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded $175 million in scholarships to more than 2,300 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The Foundation has also provided over $97 million in grants to organizations that serve such students.

A full list of the 2018 Cooke Transfer Scholars, including the community colleges and states they represent, can be viewed here.


Media Contact: Kristina Ogburn | 703.503.6338 | kogburn@nvcc.edu



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 NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.