April 9, 2009
Esmeralda Duran, who graduated from SMU's Dedman College in December with degrees in English and French, has been selected for a prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Continuing Scholar Graduate Award to assist her in continuing her studies.
One of the largest and most competitive scholarship programs in the nation, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarship provides up to $50,000 per year for up to six years of graduate study. Duran also held a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship while enrolled at SMU.
As the daughter of immigrants from Mexico who is a first-generation college student, Duran well understands the value of learning from other cultures. She understood only Spanish when she started kindergarten in Fort Worth. "I was only 5, but I still remember my hunger to learn English," Duran says. "It is a hunger for knowledge that I feel at the beginning of every semester."
She quickly became fluent in English and advanced in school, while helping take care of her younger brothers when her mother worked cleaning houses. In high school, a teacher encouraged Duran to apply for a scholarship to study in France through Fort Worth Sister Cities International. Duran, who completed all the applications herself, lived as an exchange student with a Franco-Portuguese host family in Nancy, in northeastern France.
After high school, she studied through the honors program at Tarrant County College. "I decided to make really good grades so that I would be offered a scholarship to a four-year college," she says. As part of SMU's Honors Program, she received support from an SMU scholarship for community college transfer students who have maintained a minimum 3.7 G.P.A., in addition to a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship, awarded to only 50 transfer students each year.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation established by Jack Kent Cooke to help exceptionally promising students reach their full potential through education. Launched in 2000, the Foundation focuses in particular on students with financial need. The Foundation's scholarship and direct service programs support the education of approximately 650 remarkable students each year.
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