COD Student Samiha Syed Receives Prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship

Glen Ellyn, Illinois, UNITED STATES

Glen Ellyn, Ill., May 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- College of DuPage student Samiha Syed of Lombard has received the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, the largest private scholarship in the nation for community college transfer students.

The award consists of $40,000 annually to cover educational costs – including tuition, living expenses, books and fees – during the final two or three years as the recipient completes a bachelor’s degree. Syed is one of 72 students nationwide to receive the scholarship and the ninth COD recipient in the College’s history.

“COD is the reason I was awarded this honor,” she said. “Everyone who I have come across has become part of my support system and brought me to where I am now. I am really thankful to COD.”

Syed heard the good news from College President Dr. Brian Caputo, who made a surprise visit to one of her classes.

“Samiha is one of the very finest students to have ever passed through the doors of our institution,” he said. “Her intense pursuit of excellence, service orientation, cultural awareness and leadership skills mark her as unique. It is hard to imagine how a student could give more to her school. Her potential for success in further higher education and great contribution to society are unmistakable.”

Syed’s involvement as a student leader on campus became an integral part of her learning experience. She served as the Student Trustee on the College’s Board of Trustees, president of the Future Physicians and Research Scientists Club, executive vice president of the Society of Women Engineers, a member of the Student Leadership Council (SLC) and a Living Leadership program participant. She invested more than 200 volunteer hours as a coordinator in a campus-wide blood drive and worked on an initiative that provided free health screenings on campus to uninsured students and members of the community.

In 2020, Syed was named a Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate and was the only community college student in the state to receive the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award, which includes a $500 scholarship.

“My interest in service came from COD. There is a culture of service that deeply inspires you because everyone at COD is a servant leader,” she said. “Through my experiences, I have been able to engage with the DuPage community on a much more personal level, for which I am grateful. It inspired in me the passion and dedication to become a leader.”

When the College moved to remote learning in spring 2020 due to COVID-19, Syed created Chaps Unite, an initiative to foster greater student involvement on campus that evolved into the #ChapsUnite movement. This past fall, Chaps Unite was established as an SLC committee to support students academically, socially and emotionally as well as empower student success.

Syed also helped to organize and participate in several diversity, equity and inclusion events, including the campus-wide Chaps Unite Against Racism initiative. She is a member of COD’s Equity and Access Team, serving on the diversity, equity and inclusion subcommittee.

A member of the Honors Program, she presented at the Honors Council of the Illinois Region Student Symposium. Professor of English and Honors Program Director Lisa Higgins has been impressed by Syed’s commitment to both her academics and the community.

“Samiha cares about the world around her and understands that in order for change to occur, she must get involved and be part of the solution,” she said. “In doing so, Samiha has become a role model to others and demonstrates what it means to be engaged with the larger community. She is a true humanitarian.”

Syed, who also received the COD STEM Student Success Scholarship funded by the National Science Foundation, has earned a perfect 4.0 GPA and will graduate this spring with an Associate in Science degree. Still deciding upon her transfer institution, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in chemistry followed by an M.D.-Ph.D. degree to become a physician-scientist. Her goal is to help mitigate health care disparities by serving as a primary investigator to reduce the market cost of drugs used to treat malignant diseases.

“Research leads to cures for diseases, and the development of new medicines and treatments is built upon the foundation of research,” she said. “When I see people who are uninsured or have no reliable health care options, I want to do something about it.”

Syed considers COD a transformational place and hopes to continue as an engaged an active alumna in the COD community.

“I wish to give back to the community that gave me so much—once a part of the Chaparral family, always a part of it. #ChapsUnite.”

College of DuPage is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 21,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants seven associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.