Scholarship Offers Continue at Boston University Nerea Alvarez graduated from MDC with a perfect 4.0 GPA in 2015. A student in international relations, Alvarez was admitted to a host of high-power schools to continue her studies. She chose Boston University, in part because of a generous scholarship offer. With an interest in international business, especially in the Latin American and Caribbean regions, Alvarez had opportunities to get a jump start while at MDC. She flew to Austria to attend the prestigious Salzburg Global Seminar, and also traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the MDC Honors College Washington Insider seminar. During the trip, Alvarez and her fellow students had the chance to meet with Florida lawmakers, and even had a brief private conference with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Alvarez also took time to give back while attending MDC. Among her other service activities, she was the co-founder of Pencils of Promise, a club that worked to increase educational opportunities in the developing world. Jack Kent Cooke Award Goes to MDC Scholar Juan Valdes, in his academic ambitions and personal pursuits, has always had a focus on helping others. While at MDC, Valdes was vice president of the Human Rights Alliance at Wolfson Campus and was an organizer of the One Billion Rising rally to combat the abuse and human trafficking of women globally. Valdes, who focused his studies at MDC on history, decided to go to Amherst College in bucolic Western Massachusetts, the second-ranked liberal arts college in the nation according to this year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings. To assist with his college expenses at Amherst, Valdes won a highly coveted Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer scholarship, which provides up to $40,000 annually to students who are transferring to a four-year college to complete a bachelor’s degree. In addition to his advocacy work at MDC, Valdes also worked as an intern for Florida Rep. José Félix Díaz, reporting on constituent opinion data and informational surveys, and connecting constituents with needed resources and social programs. Alumna a Graduate Researcher at Johns Hopkins Eleana Parajón began her college education at MDC. Parajón graduated from MDC with a degree in biology, sporting a near-perfect 3.94 GPA. Her ambition of becoming a neonatologist developed when a friend of her family’s had a child who was born prematurely. So it was natural she would want to go to the best college for medicine that she could find. “I’ve known that I wanted to be a doctor since I was a little kid, but it wasn’t until I saw them treating this baby that I knew I wanted to be a neonatologist,” she said. Parajón won admission to the famed Johns Hopkins University, which is the second-highest ranked medical school for 2017 in U.S. News and World Report’s rankings. The university as a whole is also in the top 10 nationwide, with the second-highest rating among undergraduate biomedical programs. Now a graduate researcher at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Parajón intends to finish a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree in 2019. Formerly Homeless, Alum Excels at Georgetown and Oxford Sean McKenzie faced huge hurdles before he ever studied at MDC, and it was that crucible of adversity that forged his indomitable resolve. Impoverished and at times homeless growing up, McKenzie nevertheless prevailed, completing his associate degree at MDC while taking 10 courses in his final semester and holding down several part-time jobs. He frequently rose at 2:45 a.m. to keep up. When it came time to decide on a four-year college to finish his bachelor’s degree, McKenzie focused his eyes down the road to find ways to help others. “It goes back to the rough childhood I had,” McKenzie said. “I really feel that I have to give back to those who need help, because there were times in my life when I needed help.” McKenzie won admission to Georgetown University in the nation’s capital, a school well known for government and international studies programs. In addition, he had the chance to travel to England to study at the University of Oxford Summer Study Abroad program.
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