Dallas College News Update

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Aicha Diaba K. Diakite is heading to Princeton University. She hopes to become a neurosurgeon.

Contact: Debra Dennis; ddennis@dcccd.edu

For immediate release — May 18, 2022

(DALLAS) — Aicha Diaba K. Diakite is heading to Princeton University and knows a few things about beating the odds. A native of Gabon, Diakite didn’t learn English until she moved here nearly three years ago after graduating from Nelson Mandela High School in Gabon. Now, through hard work and persistence at Dallas College, she is among 100 recipients of this year’s Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship.

Diakite is among eight community college students from Texas who received the prestigious transfer scholarship. She is also the youngest of five sisters, all of whom started at a community college before transferring to a four-year school.

The Cooke transfer scholarship helps exceptional two-year college students complete their undergraduate degrees. Scholars are selected based on their academic achievement, financial need, service and leadership. Students must be enrolled in community college or be a recent graduate. Considering the growing financial hardship for so many families, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation increased the maximum award from $40,000 to $55,000 to ensure students focus on their studies while enrolled.

The award will help Diakite significantly defray the cost of her Ivy League education.

“This means a lot because not having to worry about the financial aspects of your education is a huge thing for a student,” she said. “It makes me proud of myself. For them to choose me is really an accomplishment.”

She thanks a long list of supporters at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus for helping her to believe in herself, find her own voice and graduate as a leader. Their encouragement, she said, allowed her to dream.

“I know that I want to become a doctor,” said Diakite, who was recently awarded an associate degree in computer science from Dallas College.

At Brookhaven, Diakite served as president of the Student Government Association and headed the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society — organizations that promote service and fellowship.

“I was an international student, so it was hard to get to know people,” she said. “With the pandemic, it didn’t bother me to manage online classes, but I joined these groups to get connected. Our advisors really pushed us to do our best because it’s hard to stay engaged.”

She hopes to enter medical school and become a neurosurgeon. She saw the need for medical intervention in a country where health care is waning.

“I chose Dallas College because it allowed me to have a good and affordable education, while staying close to my family members who live in Dallas. Receiving this scholarship allows me to pursue my education at my dream school without having a financial burden. This scholarship is a reward not only for my family and me, but also for my advisors and teachers who supported me throughout my journey at Dallas College,” she said.

“I am very happy for and proud of Aicha,” said Rebekah Benavides, senior manager for Dallas College Honor Societies and PTK chapter co-advisor at Brookhaven. “This is an honor that is well deserved, and she has worked hard for this achievement. Aicha is an exemplary student, an amazing leader and a shining example of the accomplishments that our students at Dallas College can achieve.”

“Today, almost half of all college students begin their academic career at a community college. We know our community colleges are full of high-achieving students, and we’re committed to playing our part to ensure those students succeed,” said Seppy Basili, the executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

According to the foundation, 1,200 applicants attending 180 community colleges applied for the scholarship. Last year, Dallas College student Ferdinando Castro Gonzalez was awarded a Cooke scholarship and successfully transferred to Columbia University in New York.

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