Two LMU Alumni Receive Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarships
Nikia Clarke ‘02 and Haydee Cuza ’03 were awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship in June. More than 900 people applied for the scholarship and 34 awards were granted.
The scholarship recognizes students who have demonstrated excellence in academic endeavors and extracurricular activities and who have financial need. Loyola Marymount University and MIT were the only institutions with two recipients of the scholarship.
Clarke and Cuza excelled academically and were extremely involved in campus activities at LMU. Both also have been committed to service and community work after graduation.
Clarke, who was a humanities major in the Honor's Program, volunteered for the Peace Corps in rural South Africa. She served as a teacher and assisted in community development issues. When Clarke returned to the United States, she worked for M.A.D.D. as a program specialist and ran prevention programs in elementary schools.
“It is such an honor,” said Clarke. “Receiving the scholarship really changes the course of my life and opens up more opportunities.”
Future plans for Clarke include pursuing a career in conflict resolution in developing nations. She will begin a master’s program in international development and a Ph.D. in international relations at the University of Cambridge, England.
Cuza, who majored in urban studies, was named an outstanding student in that program, and she received a presidential citation for academic excellence. Cuza previously received a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship after graduating from West Los Angeles Community College. Since finishing her undergraduate degree, she has worked full-time in youth advocacy and health programs.
“The scholarship turns going to school into a blessing rather than a burden,” Cuza said.
Cuza will pursue a doctorate in education at UCLA. She hopes to work in programs to develop youth leaders who can change the foster care system from within and participate in decision making at county, state and federal levels.
Each award covers a portion of graduate educational expenses, including tuition, living expenses, required fees and books. The maximum available per student per year of study is $50,000 and the maximum length is six years.
“Having two alumni receive this competitive scholarship puts LMU on the map to attract more of these kind of prestigious awards,” said Kathleen Harris, director of LMU’s national and international scholarship office and the faculty representative who nominated Clarke and Cuza. “It couldn’t have happened to two better and more deserving people.”
Photos: Top right, Nikia Clarke. Bottom left, Haydee Cuza