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Santa Monica College Student Receives Prestigious National Scholarship

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By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

April 16, 2014 -- The Virginia-based Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced on Monday that Santa Monica College student Siamak Khakshoor-Kohan is among the 85 students chosen nationwide to receive a 2014 Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Khakshoor-Kohan is part of the largest group of grantees in the program’s 13 year history.  The 85 finalists were selected from 3,705 applications representing 737 community colleges from 48 states, two U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.

“The vision of one day healing my own patients through higher education now beckons me to pursue my own path in health care,” said Khakshoor-Kohan, who plans to attend medical school. 

“Although my long-term ambition is to become a physician,” he said, “I cherish every blessing along my journey of learning and growth and embrace every opportunity with open arms and a view to excellence.”

Raised by Jewish immigrants from Iran, Khakshoor-Kohan is one of four children, all of whom are healthcare professionals or studying to enter the field. His brother is a radiology resident, his older sister is a dentist and his other sister is earning her master’s degree in biomedical sciences.

“While overcoming social, cultural, and linguistic barriers, my siblings and I learned from my parents the importance of leading an honorable life centered on higher education and service to society,” said Khakshoor-Kohan. 

“My parents gave up everything they had built in their homeland in hope of establishing a better future for their four children” and “struggled for years to establish a more comfortable life for our family in the United States.

“They are still an inspiration to me as I see them working every day of the week to save for our future,” he added.

In addition to taking part in various community service activities and organizations, Khakshoor-Kohan is an instructor for Sustainable Works, an environmental education organization in Santa Monica.

It “has been an elevating experience encouraging me to be a role model of higher learning, personal excellence, and service to society,” he said.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship is the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country, according to the Foundation’s website. 

“The Foundation has long been committed to helping outstanding community college students transfer to and succeed at the nation’s top colleges and universities,” said Emily Froimson, vice president of programs at the Foundation.

“Since the program started in 2002, the Foundation has supported 643 community college students directly, and thousands more through the Foundation’s grant making initiatives,” she said.

The Foundation gives approximately $30,000 a year for up to three years to each of the low-income community college students seeking to complete a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university, according to officials.

Scholars were selected based on high academic ability and achievements, persistence, leadership and financial need, officials said.

The average GPA of the incoming class is 3.98, and the Scholars come from families with an average adjusted gross income of approximately $25,000.  


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