Four Miami Dade College Graduates Awarded Prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships

Miami, May 10, 2021 – Four Miami Dade College (MDC) students have been named recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, a highly competitive national scholarship that provides students with up to $40,000 a year to complete their bachelor’s degree. They were selected from a pool of more than 1,300 students from 398 community colleges.

MDC students have been awarded more Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships than at any other college in the U.S. In fact, MDC set a record in 2019 when seven scholars were selected from the college, making it the first time in the program’s history that this many scholarships were awarded to a single institution at once.

This year’s winners are Kalid Gawon, Diana Gonzalez, Estefano Reyes and Laura Santos, all from MDC’s Honors College, a national model for academic excellence. 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 Cooke Scholars and alumni.

“I am so proud of these students who persevered during a challenging period in our history. They inspire all of us, and typify all our students who often overcome adversity to reach unimaginable heights,” said MDC President Madeline Pumariega. “I know we’ll be seeing them and so many others in leadership positions across our community and nation.”

Click here to watch students’ reactions when MDC leadership surprised them with the big news.

Meet the 2021 MDC Cooke Transfer Scholars: 

North Campus

Born to a Nigerian American mother and an African American father, Kalid Gawon aspires to help underprivileged and disenfranchised people across the world.  The political science major is also the recipient of the Panda Cares scholarship, which advances higher education for community-minded and intellectually gifted students. Gawon has volunteered with several organizations, including Model UN, Achieve Miami and the Miami Book Fair.

Due to her own mental health challenges, Diana Gonzalez knew that she wanted to pursue a degree in clinical psychology. At MDC, she served as president of the campus’ National Alliance on Mental Illness, a club dedicated to raising awareness about mental health. She is also working on a research project on climate change in South Florida and working directly with Miami Waterkeeper to spread awareness about its effects.

Padrón Campus

Venezuelan-born Estefano Reyes is an engineering major who wants to study artificial intelligence for the good of humanity. Reyes co-authored a paper in mathematics with his faculty mentor that will be presented virtually this summer at an international conference in England. He enjoys encouraging first-year students and tutoring classmates. This summer, Reyes will participate in the Station 1 Frontiers Fellowship program, where he’ll join a team of entrepreneurs working on software that will support and enlighten mental health practices.

During her first year at the Honors College, Laura Santos was selected to attend the Harvard Kennedy School’s annual conference for up-and-coming leaders. The political science and international relations major served as editor of the campus’ award-winning literary magazine, Urbana.  She was the first Honors College student to win the Critical Language Scholarship, a study abroad program through which she plans to focus on the Turkish language.

About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded over $222 million in scholarships to over 2,800 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive educational advising and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $115 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. To date, over 1,000 students from all over the country have received the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. For more information, visit

Jack Kent Cooke Media Contact: Jenna Schuette Talbot,, 760-390-6978