Press Release

Four Cooke Scholars Participate in White House’s Beating the Odds Summit

LANSDOWNE, VA – Rising Cooke College Scholars Dawit Gebre and Emily Janis will join 130 college-bound, high school graduates from across the country today for a special event at the White House. During the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, Dawit and Emily will take part in resource-rich panels and discussions designed to prepare them better for their academic journeys. Two of the summit’s sessions will be facilitated by Jack Kent Cooke Foundation staff, and one will feature current Cooke College Scholars Myles McMurchy, a student at Dartmouth College, and Merilin Castillo, a student at Harvard University.

Dana O’Neill, the director of the Cooke Foundation’s higher education programs, will lead “Unmasking Your Fears,” a session which will engage participants in a hands-on activity to explore some of the natural fears that surface when students head off to college for the first time and learn several simple, positive coping strategies.

Rebecca Cullen, the director of the foundation’s events and its Young Scholars Program, will facilitate a peer-to-peer discussion called “Tips for Navigating College,” where Myles and Merilin will shares stories about the successes and challenges of their first three years of college, offer advice, and share what they wish they had known as rising freshman.

“The First Lady’s summit is a priceless experience our scholars will never forget,” said Executive Director Harold Levy. “We are grateful for the opportunities the White House has provided the Cooke Foundation to collaborate and are delighted that two of our own will be leading sessions and sharing their expertise.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. By offering the largest scholarships in the country, comprehensive counseling and other support services to students from 7th grade to graduate school, the Foundation is dedicated to ensuring high-performing, low-income students have the support necessary to develop their talents and excel educationally. In addition to its scholarship programs, the Foundation provides grants for innovative, high-impact initiatives that benefit such students. By doing so, the Cooke Foundation seeks to use its resources to end the Excellence Gap, the disparity between the number of low and high income students who reach the top levels of academic performance. Founded in 2000, the Foundation has awarded $130 million in scholarships to 1,900 students and over $80 million in grants.


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