headshot of Vatey

Vatey Ouy has earned the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Front Range Community College engineering student Vatey Ouy is one of 60 high-achieving community college students from around the country—and the only one in Colorado—awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. She was chosen from a nationwide pool of nearly 1,700 applicants who were evaluated on their academic prowess, financial need, persistence, community service and leadership qualities.

“My ultimate goal is to become one of the first female aerospace engineers from Cambodia,” says Vatey. “This field is almost non-existent in my country, and I am passionate about breaking new ground and serving as an inspiration for other young women in STEM. I aspire to contribute to advancements in aerospace technology and bring new perspectives to the industry.”

“Everyone at FRCC is tremendously proud of Vatey’s well-earned achievements,” said President Colleen Simpson, EdD. “She represents the academic excellence and unlimited potential of our entire student body. We can’t wait to see what her future brings.”

A Scholar and Campus Leader

An international student, Vatey is originally from Siem Reap, Cambodia, a place rich in culture and history. The first in her family to go to college, she feels her background has shaped her unique perspective and driven her to pursue opportunities that were “previously unimaginable for someone from my community.”

While at FRCC, Vatey has served as a vice president for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society on campus. In that role, she has helped connect other students with a community of dedicated scholars. She has made the FRCC Dean’s List and was an active member of the campus Math Club.

Outside of school, Vatey is particularly proud of her participation in NASA’s L’SPACE Mission Concept Academy. The program allowed her to engage with real-world aerospace challenges and collaborate with peers and professionals in the field. “It was a valuable experience that fueled my passion even more for aerospace engineering.”

A Strong Foundation

“FRCC has been an incredible support system throughout my academic journey,” Vatey says. “The advisors, tutors, and teachers have been instrumental in building my confidence and providing me with the resources and encouragement needed to excel in all my hard classes. The community at FRCC has the best environment where I could thrive academically and personally.”

“My time at FRCC has prepared me with the best foundation for engineering,” she adds.

“Vatey’s selection for the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship is a strong testament to her hard work, determination and leadership skills,” adds President Simpson. “I also applaud the passionate FRCC professors, tutors and staff members who have supported her along the way.”

What the Scholarship Means for Vatey’s Future

“The Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship is a life-changing opportunity that significantly alleviates my financial burdens, allowing me to focus entirely on my studies and personal growth,” Vatey adds. “Beyond the financial support, the scholarship offers access to a network of scholars and professionals who can provide guidance and mentorship. Their support system is crucial as I work towards my goal of becoming an aerospace engineer.”

This highly competitive scholarship is awarded to exceptionally talented community college students who have financial need. The aim of the scholarship is for Cooke Scholars to complete their undergraduate educations with as little debt as possible.

The award provides last-dollar funding after all institutional aid, which can provide each scholar with as much as $55,000 a year to complete a bachelor’s degree. The funding can be applied to the costs of tuition, room & board, living expenses, books and required fees.

Vatey graduated this month after completing the necessary coursework to transfer to Colorado State University, where she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, with an Aerospace Concentration. She will start at CSU this fall.

Scholarships Provide More Equitable Access to Education

According to the Community College Research Center, transfer pathways from community colleges are significant contributors to enrollment and diversity at four-year institutions. However, a lack of scholarship opportunities for transfer students—along with other obstacles like losing credits during the transfer process—continue to keep bachelor’s degree completion rates low.

“Community college students remain far too underrepresented at our nation’s top institutions, despite clear research demonstrating their success once they arrive. Our scholarship is one way we aim to ensure that high-achieving students have the opportunity to complete their degree where they want, regardless of their financial background,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Cooke Foundation.

More Than a Scholarship

In addition to the financial support Vatey will receive, Cooke Scholars are welcomed into the thriving Cooke community and network, receive comprehensive educational and career advising, guidance that is crucial for navigating their transition to four-year colleges and planning their career paths. Cooke Scholars also benefit from access to internship opportunities, study abroad and graduate school funding, as well as a dynamic network of more than 3,300 Cooke Scholars and alumni.

This year’s competition saw applications from more than 380 community colleges. A complete list of the 2024 Cooke Transfer Scholars and their respective community colleges is available here.

“I am immensely grateful for Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for recognizing my efforts and potential with this scholarship,” says Vatey. “I am also deeply thankful to the FRCC community for their immense support and belief in my abilities.”

“This scholarship not only transforms my educational journey but also empowers me to inspire and pave the way for other young women in Cambodia and beyond.”

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About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded almost $282 million in scholarships to more than 3,300 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive educational advising and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $133 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. www.jkcf.org.

Media Contact: Julia Florence, media@jkcf.org

About Front Range Community College

Front Range Community College offers more than 200 degrees and certificates in a wide variety of programs from locations in Boulder County, Larimer County and Westminster—as well as online. FRCC is a member of the Colorado Community College System.

About the Colorado Community College System

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, serving 114,000 students annually at 13 colleges and 35 locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities.

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