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Sophomore is named a Jack Kent Cooke semifinalist

Susana Olivo Sandoval was selected as a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. She was one of 406 semifinalists chosen from a pool of more than 1,500 applicants. Sandoval will learn if she wins the scholarship in April.

Susana Olivo Sandoval's grandmother gave her a piece of advice that she follows regularly: "You can regret something once you do it, but don't regret not doing something."

As a first-generation student at the University of North Georgia (UNG), Sandoval does not regret pursuing all avenues to fund her college education. Her attempts have paid off. In late February, Sandoval was selected as a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

This year, 406 semifinalists were chosen from a pool of more than 1,500 applicants attending 398 community colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia.

"At first, I thought they typed my name by error," said the UNG sophomore, who is pursuing an associate degree in modern languages. "It would be great if I win the scholarship."

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation provides students in their second year with up to $40,000 per year toward the completion of a bachelor's degree in one of the nation's elite four-year universities. The highly selective program supplies each finalist with college planning support, ongoing advising, and the opportunity to connect with the thriving community of fellow scholars.

Dr. Kathryn Quinto, Nationally Competitive Scholarships Office adviser for research and engagement at UNG, worked with Sandoval.

"Susana has excelled academically and has an outstanding and positive impact in the lives of those around her," Quinto said. "Her accomplishments inside and outside the classroom helped make her application stand out."

Quinto explained Sandoval is vice president of the Latino Student Association on UNG's Gainesville Campus and is a part-time student assistant in the High School Equivalency Program (HEP) at UNG. HEP assists migration and/or seasonal farm workers and members of their immediate family to obtain a General Educational Development (GED).

"I work because I need the money to pay for my education," said Sandoval, who almost didn't apply for college because of the cost. "My high school teachers encouraged me to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for scholarships."

Sandoval did and received financial aid. She also earned a Goizueta Foundation Scholarship, which is designed to support the academic success and leadership development of Hispanic and Latino students at UNG.

This gave her the confidence to pursue other scholarships.

"I'm not sure if I can win all of the scholarships that I apply for, but I don't lose anything by trying. So I try," said the 19-year-old from Gainesville, Georgia.

Now, Sandoval hopes to receive the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship or others to continue in a bachelor's degree program.

"If I get it, I could leave my jobs and spend more time on my classes and selfcare," Sandoval said.

Sandoval and 405 other semifinalists will learn if they win the scholarship in April.

Five other UNG students have been named Jack Kent Cooke semifinalists, including Carlie Anderson and Johan Rodriguez-Soto in 2020, Allison Rogers in 2019, and John Blessing and Jennifer Conley in 2016. Teri Jones, a nontraditional sophomore majoring in visual arts on UNG's Oconee Campus, won in 2015.

Students interested in learning more about nationally competitive scholarships should contact for more information.

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