BMCC Has 12 Semifinalists for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship—the Most in CUNY and New York State

March 19, 2024

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) has the most semifinalists in CUNY and New York State for the prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Cooke Scholars are a highly selective group of students from the nation’s top community college students, seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees at four-year colleges or universities.

Each Cooke Scholar has access to generous financial support for two to three years, college planning support and the opportunity to join a thriving nationwide community of fellow Scholars. This year’s 459 semifinalists across the country were chosen from a pool of more than 1,600 applicants.

The BMCC semifinalists are Isabela Bandeira, Joely Castillo, Anthony Chimbay, Jaime Diaz Granados Almanza, Jeraldine Diyarza Flores, Kaya Fader, Shayla Jimenez, Anamelia Jourdain, Francis Koroma, Jasmin Lecadre, Dan Lin and Katarzyna Gawin.

BMCC’s track record with Cooke Scholarships is impressive

The Jack Kent Cooke finalists (scholarship winners) will be announced in May—and they are in good company. In 2023, BMCC had eight semifinalists, more than any other CUNY college. In 2022, BMCC had the most CUNY semifinalists, with seven altogether.

Sussie Gyamfi
Sussie Gyamfi

As for finalists (winners); in 2021, BMCC had not one but two Jack Kent Cooke scholarship recipients: Computer Science major Abdoul-hanane Gbadamassi and Biotechnology major Altrim Mamuti.

Other recent winners have included Engineering Science major Jose “Fabrizzio” Cevallos in 2020, Science major Norbesida Bagabila in 2017 and Science major Aurela Dragani in 2016.

This year’s Jack Kent Cooke semifinalists have reached this point in their journey with the support of faculty and staff including BMCC Scholarship Manager Sussie Gyamfi, who guided the students in their application process.

“My heartfelt congratulations to all the 2024 semifinalists!,” says Ms. Gyamfi.

The scholarship, she explains, is open to all students, regardless of their academic major or immigration status. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation selects candidates based on academic excellence, financial need, community service, leadership qualities and perseverance.

“The remarkable efforts and dedication of the semifinalists have brought them to this achievement,” she says. “I’m thrilled for them and look forward to even better news in May when the finalists are announced. I also want to express that I’m very proud of every single student engaged in this process, regardless of the outcome in May.”

Semifinalists speak of gratitude, a sense of belonging, clarity and assurance

Jaime Andrés Diaz Granados Almanza
Jaime Andrés Diaz Granados Almanza

Music major Jaime Andrés Diaz Granados Almanza says that being a semifinalist for the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship—which means in many cases, a complete scholarship to a prestigious college—“makes me feel beyond grateful to the groups at BMCC that helped me get this far; the BMCC Achievers and Division of Student Affairs who pointed us to this opportunity. I hope I can proudly representall international students, musicians and artists from BMCC in this process.”

Business Administration major Francis Koroma says, “The fact that we made the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship semifinal list is evidence of our diligence and hard work. Such a scholarship relieves a heavy load and allows students to focus solely on their studies; especially those who are self-funded or come from low-income households. It would be an honor to be considered for this distinguished scholarship and to be awarded it.”

Francis Koroma
Francis Koroma

“I received the news during my Data Structures midterm exam,” says Computer Science major Anthony Chimbay. “Overwhelmed with excitement, I couldn’t help but shout out loud, ‘Jack Kent Cooke released the names of its semifinalists!’ It was a moment of great pride and honor. The credit goes to our hard work and dedication, and for me, it also reflects the support I got from the Kaplan Educational Foundation. I am truly grateful for this opportunity.”

“When I first heard the news, I was in disbelief. I was surprised that I made it this far in the process,” says Science for Health Majors semifinalist Jasmin Lecadre. “Although I received many congratulatory calls from my friends, it didn’t sink in till later and my emotions overwhelmed me. I couldn’t stop crying.”

Anthony Chimbay
Anthony Chimbay

Ms. Lecadre envisions herself working as a community health professional, “advocating for uninsured and marginalized individuals. The thought of achieving this dream gives me chills. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity, and I thank God daily for all my blessings, but this one deserves extra praise.”

“It is such an honor to be able to say I am one of THE Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Scholarship semifinalists,” says Human Services major Ana Melia Jourdain.

“A few years ago, I did not have my high school diploma, much less having imagined the world of higher education,” she adds. “Now, not only am I here, but I have finally found myself in a place where I am inundated with a sense of belonging, clarity and assurance.”

Being the mother of a child with autism, she says, has motivated her to support other parents in that situation. “I want to be part of changing what a diagnosis such as autism looks like in the community and on an individual level,” says Ms. Melia Jourdain. “This means improving disability supports and resources, dismantling cultural biases surrounding disability, and implementing universal inclusivity through community education and advocacy—not just in New York City but around the world.”

Jasmin Lecadre
Jasmin Lecadre

“I chose to move to NYC and study at BMCC because of its slogan, ‘Start Here and Go Anywhere’,” says Writing and English Literature major Isabela Bandeira. “I have always had big dreams, and I wanted to be in a place when others believe in them, too.”

Despite the challenges of moving from Brazil by herself and having to learn English, she says that “from the moment I read my first book I knew that I would go anywhere to pursue my passions. I have grown and learned so much at BMCC as a Writing and English Literature major. Now, as I prepare to transfer to Columbia University, I have received news that I am one of the semifinalists for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation award. If I receive this scholarship, I will use it to pay for my studies at Columbia, which otherwise I would not be able to afford.”

Ana Melia Jourdain
Ana Melia Jourdain

Shayla Rose Jimenez, who graduated from BMCC with an associate degree in Liberal Arts in December 2023, says, “When I saw the email letting me know I’d made it to the semifinalist round, I was astonished. I felt so proud of all the efforts I had made to get to this point.”

She plans to celebrate, she says, by visiting the New York Botanic Garden with her girlfriend “and getting something good to eat afterwards.” She plans to use her education to become a child and adolescent psychologist.

“My past has inspired me to promote research for at-risk and homeless LGBT+ youth,” says Ms. Jimenez. “My ultimate goal is to open a non-profit organization where said youth can freely be themselves, get mental health counseling and build community that fosters positive connections.”

Isabela Bandeira
Isabela Bandeira

Along with the faculty and staff who have supported her, “I want to thank the Kaplan Leadership Program and my significant other Kyerenna Schafmayer for believing in me,” she says. “I could not have gotten this far without all their support.”

Computer Science major Dan Lin says, “I’m honored to be selected as one of the semifinalists. I’m so grateful for all the support that I received from the community. The achievement means a lot to me. It recognizes my effort and inspires me to study harder since I want to transfer to a competitive four-year college. I would like to say to other students, ‘Never set yourself a limit, continuously put in efforts toward your goals, believe in yourself, and you can achieve anything!'”


  • BMCC has the most semifinalists—12 altogether—in CUNY and New York State for the prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

  • Cooke Scholars are a highly selective group of students from the nation’s top community college students, seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees at four-year colleges or universities

  • The finalists will be announced in May

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