Gabriel Dezzeo

AVON PARK, Fla. — Feb. 22, 2021 — South Florida State College (SFSC) student, Gabriel Dezzeo, has been selected as a semifinalist for the prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. He is one of 406 semifinalists chosen from over 1,500 applicants attending 398 community colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Dezzeo graduates from SFSC in May 2021 and has set his sights on attending medical school.

Through this award, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation supports exceptionally talented community college students seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees. Cooke Transfer scholars are selected based on their exceptional academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, service, and leadership. Students must be currently enrolled in community college and residing in the United States.

“It is extremely significant that an excellent student at a small community college has the chance to win an undergraduate transfer scholarship to aid in his studies toward his baccalaureate degree,” said James Hawker, Ph.D., SFSC dean of arts and sciences. “They don’t get as many opportunities. So, we do all we can to help deserving students with great potential realize their dream of university transfer and a postgraduate degree (in medicine in this case) if that is their goal.”

Research commissioned by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation found that community college students who transfer to selective institutions have equal to or higher graduation rates as students who enrolled directly from high school or transferred from four-year institutions. Yet, at the nation’s top colleges, only 5% have transferred from a community college. The Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship seeks to increase the number of community college students completing their education at top four-year institutions. 

“We are excited to recognize this group of semifinalists for their academic achievements,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “We are especially impressed by the incredible perseverance and drive these students have exhibited during such an unprecedented year.” 

The Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship recipients will be announced in April. In addition to financial support, selected Cooke Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising from the Foundation to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year college or university and preparing for their careers. Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will also receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a network of over 2,800 fellow Cooke scholars and alumni.