Five El Camino College Students Named Semifinalists for 2022 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship

March 23, 2022 Torrance, CA

Five El Camino College students were recently named semifinalists for the highly selective 2022 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The prestigious national award supports exceptional community college students working to complete their bachelor’s degrees in any area of study.

The El Camino semifinalists are outstanding students who also volunteer their time at the college and the community in the service of others. Semifinalists include Lily Adame, Celeste Diaz, Andrea Fernandez Cruz, and twin brothers Brandon and Bryan Vela.

“We are incredibly proud of El Camino’s five Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship semifinalists,” said El Camino College President Brenda Thames. “These remarkable students represent a variety of majors and have demonstrated an admirable commitment to community service and participation in leadership activities. Congratulations to our students and many thanks to the faculty and staff who helped them realize their goals.”

This year’s 440 semifinalists were chosen from a pool of more than 1,200 applicants attending 180 community colleges in 35 states. Each scholarship award is designed to cover the majority of the student’s costs to earn a bachelor’s degree. This includes tuition, living expenses, books and required fees. Transfer and career advisement is also available. Scholarship recipients will be announced by early May.

Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will additionally receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a thriving network of over 3,000 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni.

Meet El Camino College’s 2022 Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship semifinalists:

Lily Adame is majoring in communication studies. She is part of the South Bay Promise, the Honors Transfer Program, the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society, and regularly works with the Counseling Office, which helps keep her on track with coursework and deadlines to apply to the University of California campuses. Adame said attending El Camino right out of high school helped her transition successfully to college life. “I love that everyone has a purpose for being at El Camino; we all can take something from our time here. The diversity within this college is truly something to celebrate.”

Celeste Diaz is a sociology major, an Ambassador, and the commissioner of publicity for El Camino’s Inter-Club Council. She also volunteers at the Warrior Pantry and is a member of First-Year Experience, Honors Transfer Program, and Extended Opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS). Diaz said attending El Camino College was the best decision she made during her educational career. “El Camino has helped me achieve my academic goals by allowing me to focus on my studies without having to worry about the high cost of classes. I am also thankful for the amazing counselors who work so hard to help students.” 

Andrea Fernandez Cruz is a marketing and communications major who serves as the Associated Students Organization (ASO) director of public relations. The first-generation college student is also involved on campus as an Ambassador, and is a part of the South Bay Promise, Inter-Club Council (ICC), Student Equity Advisory Council, Honors Transfer Program, and Puente. “The experience of being involved and working to provide a better space for other students is something that I am always so thankful for. I would not be who I am today without El Camino!”

Brandon Vela is a computer science major who has served on the ASO and ICC. He is part of the Honors Transfer Program, First Year Experience, South Bay Promise, MESA, and EOPS. Outside the classroom, Vela conducted research at UCLA and had his research recognized at a National Science Foundation conference. He is also a NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar; his team won first place at the program’s final competition. “There are amazing people in every place you look at El Camino. You truly find yourself surrounded by people who want to help you succeed with opportunities at every turn.”

Bryan Vela is a computer science major who is part of the Honors Transfer Program, First Year Experience, South Bay Promise, MESA, ASO, ICC, and EOPS. He is also a NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar and has completed internships and other programs to prepare him for his dream job as a software engineer. Last fall, he participated in MIT’s undergraduate hackathon, and last month he was a judge for MIT’s high school hackathon. Vela’s best advice for new students centers on leadership opportunities at El Camino: “Get involved and put yourself out there – your future self will thank you.”

Photos Available: Download Photos