TJC honor graduates earn prestigious transfer scholarships

Three Tyler Junior College Presidential Honors graduates have earned significant scholarships that will help them pursue their next chapter in higher education.

Jordan Booth — Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship
Jordan Booth, a general studies major from Rusk, is one of only 100 community college students nationwide to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

As a Cooke scholar, Booth will receive up to $55,000 annually to complete his bachelor’s degree, as well as college planning services, ongoing advising and the opportunity to connect with a thriving community of fellow recipients.

Recipients are selected based on exceptional academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, service to others and leadership.

A first-generation college student, Booth was introduced to TJC as a dual credit student at Rusk High School. He first came to TJC on the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise Scholarship and then earned a Presidential Honors Scholarship. He also benefitted from the TJC TRIO program.

At TJC, Booth was active in the Alpha Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the Honors Program and Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society.

He plans to continue his education at a four-year university, with eventual plans to be a professor of English or philosophy.

“The Jack Kent Cooke scholarship is need based, which means it’s for people like myself who come here and rely on FAFSA money or scholarships and grants in order to get them through college,” Booth said. “So, if there are people out there who are struggling and have low family contribution and no idea how they’re going to be able to get their secondary degree, this is definitely something they should look into. It’s entirely possible for someone to obtain it.”

Montserrat Gamez — Baylor Bound Scholarship
Montserrat Gamez, a science major from Tyler, has been named the 2022 recipient of the Baylor Bound Scholarship.

Since 1989, TJC and Baylor have had an agreement in which one TJC Presidential Honors graduate per year can transfer to Baylor on a full, two-year scholarship.

“I had already been admitted to Baylor last fall, so I applied for the Baylor Bound scholarship in February,” Gamez said. “I knew that God somehow wanted me to go there and pursue my dreams.”

At Baylor, she plans to major in biochemistry and eventually attend medical school with an intended specialty in pediatrics, but she is also considering cardiology, oncology, geriatrics, neurology and OB/GYN. She is also interested in being a neonatal physician.

During her time at TJC, Gamez was active in the Alpha Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and the Presidential Honors program, where she was a sophomore leader at the first-ever honors retreat. She was also a member of Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society and volunteered at PATH (People Attempting To Help).

“At first, I was very nervous going from high school to college,” she said. “Being a first-generation college student, I didn’t know much, but being with those students and building those friendships really helped me.”

She added, “(TJC Honors Program Director) Dave Funk was the first person who made me feel confident in my college journey, and I would not be the same person and student I am today if it wasn’t for my involvement in the TJC Honors program and his friendship. Future college students should highly consider TJC, especially being a part of the Honors program.”

Micah Leary — Phi Theta Kappa Guistwhite Scholarship
Micah Leary, a biology major from Tyler, is one of only 15 Phi Theta Kappa members selected as a 2022 Guistwhite Scholar and will receive a $5,000 scholarship to continue her baccalaureate studies. 

Winners were chosen from among 2,700 applicants nationwide, and their selection was based on academic excellence, leadership accomplishments and engagement in Phi Theta Kappa programs. They also received a commemorative medallion. 

This is the second-highest scholarship offered by Phi Theta Kappa. It is named in honor of the late Margaret and Dr. Jack Guistwhite, who established the first transfer scholarship designated exclusively for Phi Theta Kappa members in 1975.

During her time at TJC, Leary was involved in the TJC Honors Program, Touch of Gold Color Guard, Green Committee, All-Texas Academic Team and STEM Club. She also served as president of the Alpha Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Through her involvement in the honors program and Phi Theta Kappa, she spent many hours volunteering on campus, including helping to organize projects such as updating the TJC Alert System and assisting with on-campus COVID-19 vaccine clinics. She also organized a workshop to help individuals with filling out scholarship applications.

Leary also gave her time to community projects such as United Day Way of Caring, Adopt a Highway and East Texas Food Bank.

At TJC, she received the Kenneth D. and Margaret Patterson Endowed Scholarship, the Dr. Mary Hood STAR Scholarship, the Presidential Honors Scholarship, the Rotary Young Citizens Award and was named to the President’s List. In addition to being a full-time student and active in campus organizations, she also has a full-time job. 

She plans to transfer to Texas Tech University, where she will major in molecular and cell biology, with plans to pursue a career in research.

Leary said, “TJC has changed my life, and I am excited to continue my academic career because of the knowledge and support I have received here.”

Funk said, “I consider it a great privilege of my position to so frequently come into contact with such excellent students. I am so proud of Jordan, Montserrat and Micah. They are all excellent students, and each of these awards is so perfectly aligned with their individual stories.”

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