Five Miami Dade College Students Awarded 2022 Prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships

The nation’s most highly selective scholarship for top community college students transferring to four-year institutions

Miami, May 12, 2022 – Five students from Miami Dade College’s (MDC) renowned Honors College have been named recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, a highly competitive national scholarship that awards students up to $55,000 a year to complete their bachelor’s degree. This year’s winners were selected from a pool of more than 1,200 students from 332 colleges.

MDC students have been awarded more Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships than at any other college in the U.S. This year, MDC had the most winners from a single institution, and an impressive 40 MDC students were named semi-finalists.

In addition to financial support, Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars receive comprehensive educational advising to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year university and preparing for their careers. Scholars will also receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, graduate school funding, and connection to a thriving network of nearly 3,000 Cooke Scholars and alumni.

Meet the 2022 MDC Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars:

Alexa Bencomo plans to pursue a career in dermatology and conduct groundbreaking research. Over the course of several semesters, the biology major conducted research that evaluated the effects of medicinal plants on the migration of breast cancer cells. She also founded the Aquaponics Club and served as vice president of Global Medical Brigades. Alexa was also a member of the Student Government Association and Phi Theta Kappa. She is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant.

Venezuelan-born Paola Troconis is working toward a degree in biomedical engineering and aspires to become a brilliant doctor and researcher. At MDC she served as senator of the Student Government Association and treasurer/secretary of She the People, an organization she helped launch that spreads awareness about women’s issues. In 2016, she and her mother established the Casa Hogar Project, a nonprofit that provides funding, food, clothing and other resources to disadvantaged children in Venezuela.

Inspired by her mother’s and grandmother’s battle with cancer, Daphnie Velasquez Garcia is a biology major with a deep passion for oncology research. She participated in the 2021 summer undergraduate research program through the Microbiology and Cell Science Department at the University of Florida, and collaborated with the Women Breast Cancer & Heart Initiative, raising awareness and supporting social responsibility toward preventive self-care. She was a Phi Theta Kappa member, a senator of the Student Government Association, and webmaster for Urbana, her campus’ award-winning literary arts magazine.

Ana Cristina Camba is pursuing a career in computer engineering. She was a research intern at the School of Science, where she worked with programming languages and mathematics on the research project “Embedding Genetic Codes in Euclidean Spaces.” She co-founded The Interactive Bilingual Reading Program in Nicaragua, helping to promote English as a second language. Ana served as vice president of Sigma Zeta Honor Society, and was layout editor for Urbana magazine.

Stefani Davila, a business administration major, has demonstrated a lifelong dedication to community service. She is a volunteer and photographer for Fundación Jóvenes Contra el Cáncer in Ecuador, where she is originally from, and United We Dream in the U.S. She also founded and is president of the Meraki Youth Organization, focused on community service, acts of kindness and climate justice. Stefani participated in the Public Policy Leadership Conference at Harvard Kennedy School, the Washington Seminar, and IREX and Stevens Institute Global Solutions Conversations.

About the Cooke Foundation
The Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded $230 million in scholarships to nearly 3,000 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $125 million in grants to organizations that serve such students.

About Miami Dade College
Miami Dade College is the most diverse institution in the nation. There are 167 nations and 63 languages represented in its student body. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer more than 300 distinct degree pathways including associate and baccalaureate degrees, career certificates and apprenticeships. Baccalaureate degree offerings include biological sciences, engineering, data analytics, information systems technology, education, public safety, supervision and management, nursing, physician assistant studies, film and others.  MDC is the recipient of many top national awards including the Aspen Prize. As Democracy’s College, MDC changes lives through accessible, high quality-teaching and learning experiences.  It is the home of the Miami Culinary Institute, the Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex, the Miami Fashion Institute, the Eig-Watson School of Aviation, The Idea Center, the Cybersecurity Center of the Americas, the Cloud Computing Center, the Center for Learning, Innovation and Simulation, The Honors College, the School for Advanced Studies, and the New World School of the Arts, to name a few of its most innovative programs.  MDC has been named among the nation’s “Great Colleges to Work For” since the program’s inception.  The College embraces its responsibility to serve as an economic, cultural, and civic leader for the advancement of our diverse global community. Its alumni and employees contribute more than $3 billion annually to the local economy, and MDC graduates occupy top leadership positions in every major industry. MDC is renowned for its rich cultural programming. It is the home of the Miami Book Fair, Miami Film Festival, the National Historic Landmark Miami Freedom Tower, the Tower Theater, Dyer Building, Koubek Center Mansion and Gardens, Live Arts Miami at MDC, the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives, the Museum of Art and Design, a sculpture park and a large campus art gallery and theater system.  MDC has admitted more than 2.5 million students and counting, since it opened its doors in 1960. Approximately 120,000 students are currently enrolled. For more information, visit

Cooke Foundation Media Contact: Julia Florence,