Robert Mastronardi, a student at Community College of Denver (CCD), is one of 61 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The highly competitive national scholarship will provide Robert with up to $40,000 annually for a maximum of three years to complete his bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the scholarship gives him eligibility for $75,000 annually for a maximum of three years to complete graduate school.
Mastronardi grew up in Virginia with his mom and half-sister. He had difficulty coming of age — upon coming to terms that he was gay, his peers did not treat him well. Overwhelmed by the challenges he faced, Mastronardi flunked out of 10th grade and ran away from home at 16. At age 23 he became gravely ill, during which he promised himself he would do more if he survived.
After his miraculous recovery, he settled in Denver, where he succeeded in retail and restaurants, working his way up to management. In 2015, he became politically active, serving as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) state delegate during the 2016 Democratic Primary. He then obtained his GED at CCD in 2016, completed an Associate of Arts in communication in 2018, and will be receiving his second Associate of Arts in political science at the end of summer semester 2019. While at CCD, Mastronardi served as secretary and president for the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) International Honor Society, received the “Most Outstanding Student” award by the Colorado Community College System, has been named Gold Scholar of the Coca-Cola Foundation, was inducted into the All-Colorado PTK Academic Team, and as CCD’s “Distinguished Student,” will be giving the commencement speech in May.
In addition to the monetary award, Mastronardi will receive comprehensive educational advising from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s staff to guide him through the process of transitioning to a four-year school and prepare for his career. The Foundation will additionally provide opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to a thriving network of nearly 2,500 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni.
“Our recent Persistence report highlights the vast potential and achievements of community college transfer students — who go on to outperform their non-transfer peers at selective four-year institutions,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “In an era where many high-achieving students often begin their higher education journey in community college, the Foundation is committed to enabling these transfer students to pursue their academic dreams at the nation’s top colleges and universities.”
Nearly 1,500 students applied for the 2019 Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Foundation evaluated each submission based on academic ability, persistence, leadership, and service to others. The selected recipients represent 18 different states, have a median household adjusted gross income of $28,000, and an average GPA of 3.93. This year’s cohort of Cooke Transfer Scholars has applied to the nation’s most selective institutions.
Mastronardi plans to transfer to the University of Denver in fall 2019 to enroll in their 4+1 public policy program to pursue his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Learn more about Robert by reading, “Finding His Purpose: How a High School Dropout Became President of CCD’s National Honor Society.”
Are you interested in learning more about the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship? Sign up to receive an email alert when the application opens again this fall!
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The Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded $175 million in scholarships to more than 2,300 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The Foundation has also provided over $97 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. Learn more at JKCF.org.
With nearly 8,000 students, Community College of Denver is located on the vibrant Auraria Campus in downtown Denver. As a leading point of entry to higher education for the city and county of Denver, CCD offers small-class sizes and flexible schedules, career and academic programs, award-winning professors, extensive advisory and support services, world-class facilities, easy access via RTD light rail, and affordable tuition. CCD is a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution and is one of 13 community colleges in the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). Learn more at CCD.edu.