Austin Community College District (ACC) student Amber Traylor is one of just 60 students nationwide to be awarded the highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Traylor began at ACC in fall 2020 and pursued a future in STEM as a Chemistry major.

“I immediately started crying when I found out I was selected for the scholarship. It was amazing to feel validated for all the hard work I have put into my education. This is an immediate relief to me. I can’t afford a four-year university. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is allowing me to do just that. My goal is to earn a doctorate in chemistry and use it to change the world.”

The prestigious award provides high-achieving community college students up to $55,000 a year to complete their bachelor’s degree.

“There are so many bright and persistent community college students in our nation who we know will thrive at four-year institutions if they can find a way to transfer without being weighed down by a heavy financial burden,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “We are excited to welcome yet another cohort of Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars to our community after learning about them through their applications and seeing their unbound potential.”

More than 1,700 students from 448 community colleges applied to receive the scholarship. Recipients were selected based on their academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, and leadership.

As part of the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, Traylor also will receive comprehensive educational advising to guide her through transitioning to a four-year college and preparing for a career. Scholars also receive internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding opportunities.

We asked Traylor if there were any faculty or staff she would like to thank. “Oh no, I hope you have space for them all! I would like to thank:

  • Dr. Sharon Butler, who taught my EDUC 1300 course, you are an amazing professor and continued supporting me even after I finished the course. She also has accomplished everything, so she inspires me like crazy!
  • Professor Azzurra Crispino, who taught my ethics course, you got me engaged in service learning and, in particular, working with PAPS and Inside Books Project.
  • Professor Gretchen Harries, who taught my two honors speech courses, you were my first experience with the Honors Program courses at ACC and it drove me to get involved, which changed my life. Also, you pushed me to be a better public speaker and I killed it at the Speech competition and at PTK Catalyst last year.
  • Kelly Brown, who I have terrorized for the past two years as a student officer. Kelly advocates for student activities all the time and helps lead the charge on advocating for the rights and well-being of ALL students as a Student Life regional manager.
  • Professor Mary Kohls, the advisor of the Alpha Gamma Pi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) for ACC. She helped me navigate running an international president of PTK campaign and supported me in applying for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship.
  • Dr. Michael Endl, my honors solar system astronomy professor. You spend every moment of class instilling a passion for all things space related. Long after I left your class, you still helped me when I needed it.
  • Dr. Shawn Amorde, the BEST chemistry professor anywhere. Period. You put up with all my madness for the better part of two years, made chemistry fun and exciting while also pushing me to work harder, and supported me during my darkest moments. I would not be where I am now if it weren’t for you.
  • And finally, Jana McCarthy, an advising supervisor, and the faculty advisor for the Honors Student Organization. Jana, I came to you for advising after getting into the Honors Program at ACC and you kicked me in the pants. You are the one that has pushed me to be the very best version of myself to achieve all the goals I had never dared to dream of striding for. You are always there when I need you and I can’t ever thank you enough.”

More scholarship opportunities continue at ACC. Students may apply now for a fall scholarship at