Jack Kent Cooke Scholars from Around the Country Visit Loudoun

More than 300 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholars spent this past weekend in Loudoun County learning everything from how to keep anxiety at bay to money-saving strategies.

The foundation welcomed the college students from 45 states to the National Conference Center in Lansdowne for its 17th annual Scholars Weekend. Each of the students at the three-day conference were recipients of scholarships from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which awards the largest scholarships in the county to exceptional students with financial need.

The weekend included breakout sessions on everything from time management to coding, plus mock interviews and even headshot photo sessions. The evenings included a talent show, a dance party, and a banquet dinner featuring guest speaker Elizabeth Acevedo, author of “THE POET X.”

Cecilia Marshall, director of strategic initiatives, said the goal of the weekend was to have scholars get to know one another and to equip them to navigate the path to and through college.

“The scholarship is one thing, but we really want to go beyond that and offer support that they may not otherwise get,” she said.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation serves students around the world from its offices in Lansdowne. Since the foundation’s inception in 2000, it’s awarded $190 million in scholarships to 2,500 students and $100 million in grants. Each scholar is assigned an academic advisor, who offers ongoing support from when they enter high school throughout their college career.

Qualan Woodard, who graduated from Loudoun County High School and the Academy of Science in June, has been a Cooke scholar since he was 13. He said his Cooke academic advisor created a personalized learning plan for him and connected him with unique opportunities like summer programs that offered him experience in his field of interest, computer science.

“They really invested in me and exposed me to a lot of different experiences,” Woodard said.

The Scholars Weekend was another example of that, he noted. “I got to talk to people who had a passion for their fields—some in math and science, some in business and finance. It was nice to hear from people who really know their industries and are excited about them.”

This week he heads to Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA, where he’ll major in computer science.

Learn more about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation at jkcf.org.

Jack Kent Cooke scholars gather for a photo while wearing T-shirts that show where they are headed to college this fall. Loudoun County gradate Qualan Woodard is shown in the seventh row, seventh from the left.

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