Baylor Grad Awarded Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship

Aug. 11, 2006

by Frank Raczkiewicz, science writer, (254) 710-1964

A Baylor University psychology graduate will be able to continue her studies virtually for free thanks to an illustrious and highly sought-after scholarship. Amanda Wallace, a 2004 Baylor graduate from Riesel, has been awarded the 2006 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarship. She is the first Baylor graduate to receive this scholarship.

"When I got the phone call notifying me, I stayed composed, but inside I was jumping up and down," Wallace said. "I just feel really blessed."

The graduate scholarship was awarded to 77 recipients after a nationwide selection process, which drew more than 1,000 nominations. The scholarships are among the most generous academic awards in the United States and pay for tuition, room, board, fees and books. The scholarships are up to $50,000 per year for up to six years. The exact amount and duration vary by student, based on the graduate program's cost and length. Wallace estimates the graduate program she is attending at Texas Christian University is about $40,000 per year, all of which will now be paid.

"I couldn't afford it, but I was prepared to take on serious debt to attend," Wallace said. "This is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders."

Wallace said Baylor more than prepared her to continue her graduate studies in social psychology, which she will start in the fall. She plans to earn both a master's and doctoral degree during the five-year program. After that, she would like to become a professor and researcher at a university.

"It wasn't until my sophomore year at Baylor that I became interested in psychology, but now I'm hooked," she said. "The TCU program emphasizes that their graduate students produce research publications, which is one of the main reasons I wanted to go there. Universities look at that when you try to get a job."

Established in 2000, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private and independent foundation that focuses on students with financial needs and aims to help young people of "exceptional promise" reach their full potential. The foundation also provides scholarships to undergraduates, high school students and grants to organizations that serve high-achieving students.

"Our objective is to help high achieving students who have financial need, whether they are attending a middle school in rural Kansas or Harvard Medical School," said Dr. Matthew J. Quinn, executive director of the Foundation. "The graduate scholarship recipients know hard work and sacrifice. These scholarships recognize their devotion to education, reward their efforts, and provide an incentive to continue excelling...and, we hope, to benefit society."

Quinn explained that this is the fifth year the Graduate Scholarship program has existed. The new scholars bring the total of recipients in the program to 286. He added that "word about the program is getting around" in the academic world, and some are calling it the most sought after graduate scholarship among college graduates.

For further information about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, contact Joe Sutherland at (301) 652-1558.

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