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Covington man to receive one of largest private scholarships in U.S.
GSU Newton student Gideon Melvin named national Jack Kent Cooke Scholar
Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship
2021 Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship winners from GSU Perimeter College include, from left, Awa Cisse and Covington resident Gideon Melvin. (Special | Georgia State University)

COVINGTON, Ga. — A Covington resident is one of two Georgia State University Perimeter College students to receive one of the largest private scholarships in the country.

Gideon Melvin and Awa Cisse have been awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship to attend the four-year college or university of their choice, the national Jack Kent Cooke (JKC) Foundation announced.

The scholarship provides each recipient up to $40,000 per year for up to three years and is designed to help the nation’s top two-year college students seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees at four-year institutions.

Melvin is a Covington resident and student on the Newton Campus. He is an Honors College student studying political science who plans to pursue a law degree after completing his bachelor’s degree. 

He has applied to Yale University and Georgia State and said the award would relieve the financial burden of paying for his next few years of college.

“Now that I have the Jack Kent Cooke support, it really puts me in a place where I can exhale,” Melvin said. 

“I’m happy to be in this position, and I’m so grateful to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. I’m really honored and wowed right now,” he said.

The JKC Foundation selected 72 recipients nationwide to receive the scholarship this year. Cisse and Melvin were chosen from more than 1,300 applicants attending 398 community colleges.

Melvin is also the third Jack Kent Cooke Scholar to come out of the Newton Campus in recent years, a news release stated.

Cisse, a biology student at the Dunwoody Campus who wants to pursue a degree in medicine, is considering attending Yale University, Vanderbilt University and several Georgia universities, including Georgia State.

“It’s life-changing in all aspects,” Cisse said of winning the scholarship. “I still can’t process it.”

In addition to financial support, Cisse and Melvin will receive comprehensive educational advising to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year college and preparing for their careers. 

Scholars will receive opportunities for internships, study abroad and graduate school funding and be connected to a network of Cooke Scholars and alumni.

This year, eight Perimeter students were named semifinalists for the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation evaluated applicants on their academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, leadership and service to others.

Cisse and Melvin learned about their award from Perimeter College Dean Nancy Kropf during a surprise announcement on the Clarkston Campus.

In recent years, the Honors College at Perimeter has provided technical assistance to students wanting to apply for the JKC scholarship by helping them with the application process.

“The Honors College is so happy to be a part of this process for Perimeter students,” said Lauri Goodling, associate dean of the Honors College at Perimeter. “We love seeing them succeed and watching the doors open!”

Kropf said she is proud of Perimeter’s strong history of producing Jack Kent Cooke scholars.

“That’s a tremendous, tremendous designation for our college,” she said.

Since 2002, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has award 23 Perimeter students the undergraduate transfer scholarship. 

The students have gone on to achieve success in bachelor’s degree programs and beyond at institutes such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech, Emory University, Howard University, The University of Southern California, Stanford University and Agnes Scott College. 

The 2020 JKC scholarship recipients, Diana Ha and Matthew Wessler, chose to continue their undergraduate education at Georgia State.