PARAMUS, N.J. – In what has become an annual tradition at Bergen Community College, a high-achieving student has earned the nation’s most prestigious undergraduate transfer scholarship. In becoming the twelfth Bergen student to earn the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship, Luis Cedeno Vera, of Hackensack, will receive up to $40,000 per year to complete a bachelor’s degree. Nearly 1,500 students from 311 community colleges applied for the prestigious scholarship; only 50 emerged with the honor.

“The Jack Kent Cooke is one of the most competitive scholarships available for community college students, and I am very proud of Luis for being selected as the twelfth scholar from Bergen,” Bergen Phi Theta Kappa honor society co-adviser Angie Goldszmidt said. “Luis is an outstanding student who made extraordinary contributions to our institution and I am grateful for the JKC Foundation for supporting his pursuit of higher education.”

A native of Ecuador, Cedeno came to the United States five years ago and joined the U.S. Army Reserve. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled at Bergen as an engineering science major and joined Bergen’s cross-country team. Cedeno also participated in STEM projects, the STEM club and mathematics club. He currently works as a tutor and a supplemental instruction leader in Bergen’s Cerullo Learning Assistance Center.

“I am honored to be part of this amazing community and I will continue to think big, work hard and achieve my goals in this adventurous life,” he said.

Set to graduate this month, Cedeno plans to attend either Brown University, Cornell University or Princeton University in the fall. He aspires to obtain a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering and conduct research to improve efficiency in the generation and consumption of energy.

In addition to the scholarship, Cooke scholars receive comprehensive educational advising from the foundation’s staff to guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year school and preparing for their careers. The foundation will provide opportunities for internships, study abroad and graduate school funding as well as a connection to a network of nearly 2,500 fellow scholars and alumni.

The Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship represents the largest private scholarship in the nation for students transferring from two-year community colleges to four-year institutions that award bachelor’s degrees. All Cooke scholars have financial need and strong records of academic achievement as shown by grades, leadership skills, awards, extraordinary service to others and perseverance in the face of adversity. The Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the foundation has awarded $200 million in scholarships to more than 2,700 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The foundation has also provided over $110 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. For more information, visit

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.
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