Four Miami Dade College Students Awarded National Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships

Miami, May 9, 2023 – Four Miami Dade College (MDC) students from the 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, 19 MDC students were named semi-finalists for the award. Historically, MDC students have been awarded more Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships than at any other college in the U.S.

Along with financial support, the new Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will receive comprehensive educational advising to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year college and preparing for their careers. Scholars will additionally receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as a connection to a thriving network of more than 3,000 Cooke Scholars and alumni.

This year’s winners were selected from a pool of students from 448 colleges. They were evaluated based on academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence and leadership. View the complete list of 2023 Cooke Transfer Scholars here.

Meet the 2023 MDC Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars:

Carlen Arevalo escaped gang violence in her native El Salvador. In the U.S., despite the language barrier and other challenges, she forged a path of academic excellence and became one of the most accomplished students of MDC’s Class of 2023, including being named to the 2023 All-USA Academic Team. She served as Scholarship and Leadership vice president for her Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapter at MDC Padrón Campus, co-founded the Honors in Action project Let’s P.L.A.Y. (Purpose, Learn, Apply, Young-at Heart) and was president of the Meraki Youth community service club. Arevalo plans to transfer to Columbia University or Babson College to study business administration and marketing.

Javier Gil arrived from Venezuela in 2018. He was Student Government Association vice president at MDC Padrón Campus and served as Peer-Led Team Learning Leader for STEM program classes. He also led an on-campus project to combat food insufficiency and expand student resources. He was also selected to participate in the South Florida Research Consortium’s Undergraduate Research Internship Program. Gil is a recipient of the Upper-Level Mathematics Award and Florida College System Student Government Association Exemplary Leader Award. He is headed to the Georgia Institute of Technology to complete a bachelor’s degree and eventually plans to pursue a law degree.

 Kayla Ribeiro was raised in Union City, New Jersey, before moving to Miami. While attending MDC Kendall Campus, she served as the president of the Honors Ambassador Program, PTK secretary and mentored freshmen as part of the Sharks Guiding Sharks club. This year she was named to the 2023 All-Florida Academic Team and was one of only two MDC students named a 2023 Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar. The computer science major hopes to become a software developer and create web-based applications that change the world. She is transferring to John Hopkins University to continue her education in the field of coding.

Nathalie Saladrigas is the daughter of Colombian and Cuban immigrants. The MDC Padrón Campus graduate is first in her family to attend college. In addition to her academic success, she founded Queer Collective, the first LGBTQ+ club at the campus. She was a community organizer and activist focused on social justice, issues including LGBTQ rights, anti-racism, climate activism, immigration justice and education. She also served as director of civic engagement for Meraki Youth. Nathalie is transferring to Emerson University to complete a bachelor’s degree, and her goal is to eventually obtain a doctorate in political communications from Stanford University.

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 $250 million in scholarships to more than 3,200 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 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, 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,