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For Pima Community College student Jeanette Alcaraz, winning a national scholarship competition worth up to $30,000 annually brought her – and her parents -- a lot of peace of mind about the future.

“My parents were thrilled,” said Alcaraz, 23, one of only 85 nationwide recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke (JKC) Undergraduate Scholarship, which will provide her up to $30,000 a year for up to three years as she pursues her studies at The University of Arizona.

Jeanette and her parents had been worried about paying for her education since the end of senior year of high school. Her family is of modest means; Jeanette, a Flowing Wells High School graduate, had taken advantage of scholarships and PCC’s reasonable tuition to pay for school. She also works full-time as a receptionist for a local immigration attorney.

Without the JKC scholarship, paying for a four-year university education would have been a challenge, Jeanette says. She likely would not have able to afford to attend full-time. “The scholarship uncomplicates my life and allows me to reach my full potential at school,” Jeanette says.

Jeanette has graduated from PCC with an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts, an Honors Certificate, and Arizona General Education Curriculum certificates in Arts and Business, while maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average Jeanette says, “The Honors program at Pima provided me with experiences and skills that allowed me to be a strong candidate for this award.”

She has been accepted as a pre-Business major at UA’s Eller College of Management in the fall. Her interest is in economics. “I’ve always been interested in numbers, and economics puts numbers into real practice.”

Here post-college plans are varied. She would like to attend law school eventually, but first wants to work as a financial analyst at a corporation.

“PCC has been a good steppingstone to further my studies,” Jeanette said. “The classes were smaller, teachers were very accessible to students, and I was able to make use of all the resources available at PCC. Pima has been a great transition.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to helping exceptional young people reach their full potential through education. The scholarship is awarded based on grade-point average, critical thinking ability, will to succeed, financial need, and breadth of interest and activities. It is the largest private scholarship for community college students in the nation.

Alcaraz is the third student from PCC to receive the award.

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