SRJC Student Awarded 2017 Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship

Vanessa Nava


May 3, 2017, Santa Rosa, CA—One of only 55 community college students, SRJC student Vanessa Nava has been awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, worth up to $40,000 a year, to complete a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.

Nava is one of only 55 community college students from across the nation, from a competitive pool of nearly 3,000 applicants, to receive a Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship this year. All Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars have financial need and strong records of academic achievement as shown by grades, leadership skills, awards, extraordinary service to others and perseverance in the face of adversity.

The scholarship is designed to fund the costs of attending college not covered by other financial aid, plus academic advising, stipends for internships, study abroad, and opportunities to network with other Cooke Scholars and alumni. In addition, after earning a bachelor’s degree, each Cooke Scholar may be eligible for a scholarship for graduate school worth up to $50,000 a year for up to four years.

The Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship in the nation for students transferring from two-year community colleges to four-year institutions that award bachelor’s degrees.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, “nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States attend community colleges,” amounting to 12.3 million students. Since 2000, the Cooke foundation has provided over $152 million in scholarships to nearly 2,200 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The foundation has also awarded over $90 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. 


During her senior year at Technology High School in Rohnert Park, Vanessa Nava had self-doubt and low self-esteem after receiving several rejection letters from universities. The aspiring doctor overcame many personal obstacles that led to her current confidence.

Vanessa Nava

Vanessa, the daughter of immigrants from Guadalajara, Mexico, is the oldest of three children. Currently the co-President of the SRJC Biology Club, Vanessa has set high goals for herself: to become a doctor, and to work as a bilingual medical journalist, communicating medical research and science to various communities.   

“I feel like I’ve come a long way. It’s just been a whole journey . . . to now being able to say ‘Hey, it is okay. Just keep working at it, and you’re going to be able to do your personal best without comparing yourself to others,' ” said Vanessa.

After taking Anatomy at SRJC, where she was surrounded with nursing students, Vanessa’s desire to become a doctor and to learn more about the human body grew.

“Here at SRJC, it’s incredible to see the support among students. I couldn’t have done it without my peers,” she said. “With each semester, there’s new people that come into my life and help me out. EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs & Services) has always been there. I’ve always been able to go to counselors where they help me with my educational plan. My Psychology teacher Dr. Khamsi helped me out that first semester. My Biology teacher Abigail Zoger helped me to get an internship at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.”

Vanessa is excited to celebrate her graduation from SRJC. Vanessa added, “A really important thing in my life is that I want my parents to see me graduate from medical school.”