Scholarships open door to opportunity: Cooke Foundation awards $40,000 to RCTC students

By Lydia Hansen

Two RCTC students have been awarded prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarships.

Sarah Brakebill-Hacke and Munira Alimire are the 2018 finalists in the national scholarship program, which annually awards $40,000 for up to three years to 60 selected students pursuing bachelor’s degrees. Brakebill-Hacke and Alimire were the only two Minnesota students to receive this scholarship.

Brakebill-Hacke, who is completing her associate’s degree in Liberal Arts, believes that becoming a Jack Kent Cooke scholar recognizes her achievements and hard work over the past year. She has served as RCTC’s student senate president for the 2017-2018 academic year, overseeing initiatives to address student issues such as food insecurity. She is also the Phi Theta Kappa regional officer for the Minn-Kota region (Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota) and the Officer of Fellowship for the RCTC chapter of this two-year honor society.

Alimire, a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options student from Rochester STEM Academy, is a member of the MN Youth Council, which provides Minnesota youth with a legislative voice. She is also a Girl Up teen adviser through the UN Foundation.

Both agreed the scholarship application process was long and intense. Neither expected to be semifinalists, much less finalists. Alimire even experienced setbacks in getting her application submitted on time.

“I lost all my work on an essay two days before the deadline and had to start over,” Alimire said.

Prior to receiving the scholarship, Alimire had planned to pursue a career in science or engineering because it would guarantee a good job after graduation. However, she has been accepted at Yale, Harvard and Stanford and now intends to pursue studies in political or social sciences such as international relations or ethics.

“I could not have done that if I had not won this scholarship,” she said.

Brakebill-Hacke has similar academic goals, hoping to pursue English, linguistics or international relations. She’s applied to several Ivy League colleges and is in the process of narrowing it down. However, she said that receiving the scholarship has impacted her plans.

“I was going to go where I was going to go,” she explained. “I was willing to go into debt to help people in the future, but this has been huge to know that I won’t have to.”

However, she added that receiving the scholarship was fulfilling.

“I didn’t realize how good it would feel to be appreciated,” she said.

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