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Bronx star nabs competitive scholarship

At 22, Kojo Wallace, an exceptionally bright and humble student from the Bronx, won the country’s largest undergraduate transfer scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. 

Established in 2000 by billionaire Jack Kent Cooke, the scholarship offers gifted students lacking adequate financial resources opportunities at elite, and often costly, universities.

This year more than 700 students submitted applications in hopes of attending their dream school.  Wallace, a University heights resident, was one of only 46 selected, and will attend Cornell University this fall.

Before leaving his home in Ghana, Wallace studied at the country’s most prestigious boarding school. The Mfantsipim, which is widely known for its array of promising students, educated public figures such as Alex Quaison-Sackey, former President of the General Assembly of UN and Kofi Annan, the past General Secretary of the United Nations. 

“During that period, I learned a lot about diversity in people.  It was a very competitive environment,” said an eloquent Wallace of his schooldays.

Wallace left Ghana to come to the United States in 2006, and while pursuing an education in the sciences at Bronx Community College, he worked the graveyard shift as a security guard.

“I was working from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.,” he said. “So when it was time to choose a school, I wanted a school that was close and that I could pay for.”

While attending BCC, Wallace was a National Science Foundation merit scholarship recipient and a nominee for the All-USA Community College Academic Team. 

Also, he received a first place award from the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation for presentation of independent scientific research as well as a Phi Theta Kappa award for exemplary leadership while serving as an Inter-Organizational Committee representative.

With some assistance from his school’s scholarship center, Wallace applied for the Jack Kent Cooke undergraduate transfer scholarship.

“I was very, very, very happy when I learned that I was a recipient,” He recalled. “I enjoy education.  I enjoy science.  I believe I have a talent and a responsibility not just to myself but to the world—to those who helped me.” 

Wallace, who will study Biochemistry and Mathematics, dreams of one day joining Doctors Without Borders in order to help countries all over the world that lack quality health care, including his homeland, Ghana. 

He offered this advice to students everywhere, “Don’t be intimidated by anyone.  If you have the talent and the drive, you can do anything, and there are always people willing to help you.”

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