Two Austin ISD Students Receive National Scholarship Out of 5,800 Applicants

Two Austin ISD seniors are shining bright on the national stage after being selected as just two of 61 recipients of the Cooke College Scholarship. They were selected for the scholarship out of a pool of more than 5,800 applicants nationwide.

Anderson High School student Ha “Ketty” Nguyen and Liberal Arts and Science Academy student Ian Poe will each receive up to $40,000 annually to cover costs associated with their undergraduate education.

As the pandemic continues to cause economic disruptions in the lives of American families, college application rates have seen a dramatic decline among low-income and first-generation students. According to the college application company Common App, applications from first-generation students have declined.

The Cooke College Scholarship Program seeks to close the gaps in higher education access for high-achieving students with financial needs. Nguyen and Poe will receive financial support, along with ongoing educational advising from Foundation staff and access to a network of more than 2,800 active scholars and Alumni. Scholars will also receive opportunities for internships, study abroad and access to graduate school funding.

“We are thrilled that Ian was selected to receive the Cooke College Scholarship,” said LASA High School Principal Stacia Crescenzi. “In his four years at LASA, he has shown himself to be deeply thoughtful and committed to academic excellence. His national success in debate is only rivaled by his commitment to his family and friends. His life journey continues to be an inspiration to all who know him.”

This year, students applied for the Cooke College Scholarship from all 50 states; Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; Guam; Northern Marianas; the Virgin Islands and American Samoa. The Foundation evaluated each submission and selected scholars based on their academic ability, persistence, leadership and financial need. Scholars will go on to study in fields such as biological science, engineering, computer science and political science.

“We are so very proud of Ketty for earning this well-deserved recognition,” said Anderson High School Principal Sammi Harrison. “Ketty is the quintessential International Baccalaureate student, embodying the characteristics of the IB learner profile. She is reflective, open-minded, caring and spends her time finding ways to make the world a better place. Her selection as a Cooke College Scholar is not a surprise to me. She is destined for great things!”

Ha Nguyen will attend the Yale School of Public Health this fall. She hopes her studies allow her to impact the lives of many through a career in medicine and public health policy.

Ian Poe will be attending Emory University and is looking to major in psychology. He coleads the cross-examination debate team, which earned LASA the 2021 UIL 5A State Champion title. Poe is ranked 10th in the country by the National Speech and Debate Association in policy debate points earned.

“The class of 2021 is incredibly inspiring — they’ve persisted through a year of unprecedented trials as they navigated remote learning, rapidly changing family finances, and of course, deep concerns over the health of their communities. Paying for college shouldn’t be another barrier,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “At the foundation, we remain deeply committed to ensuring that finances do not stand in the way of college success for the scholars we are able to support. We know the resilience and accomplishments of these students will only add to our community of scholars, and we are very excited to welcome them.”

About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial needs. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded over $222 million in scholarships to over 2,800 students from eighth 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.