Anika Yasmin, a senior at Key West High School, has become the first student in the district to win a four-year college scholarship from the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Yasmin, a member of the class of 2014, will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall.
The scholarship is worth up to $30,000 per year, for four years.
"I'm so thrilled to have been awarded this scholarship," Yasmin said Tuesday. "The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a very impressive organization, and I'm extremely grateful that they've decided to help me achieve my dreams."
Yasmin, 18, said that the Washington D.C.-based foundation actually sought her out, and encouraged her to apply for the scholarship. The application process began in September with a round of essay writing.
"After the preliminary screening, I had to write another eight or nine essays, and do a paper on current events," Yasmin said. "I also had to submit a graded paper from my 11th or 12th grade year from an English or history class. I found out that I had been accepted on March 18."
Aside from her 4.0 unweighted GPA and 4.6 weighted GPA grades, Yasmin serves as the president of Mu Alpha Theta, a KWHS club for honors math students. She is also an officer of the International Club, whose mission it is to introduce the people of Florida to the cultures of other peoples from around the world.
Yasmin credits her success, in part, to her mentor Cali Roberts, her environmental science teacher Laura Blythe, and co-worker Kristin Douthit, a MIT alumnus who encouraged her to apply for the scholarship and wrote her an extra recommendation.
"They're the ones who really pushed my application from the 'maybe' pile to the 'definitely getting the scholarship' pile," Yasmin said. "I also received a lot of help from my math teacher, Scott Douthit, and my school career counselor, Alice Calleja. She's great. I love her."
Calleja is equally impressed by Yasmin's work ethic.
"I feel that she really deserves this opportunity," Calleja said. "She has a natural inquisitiveness and is an eager learner, but at the same time, she's very balanced and a lot of fun. She's going to be a real asset to MIT, just as she has been to our school. She's a good investment."
Yasmin said that her parents are also ecstatic at their daughter's achievement, and choice of career.
"I'm going to be taking biomedical engineering," Yasmin said. "When I'm older, I want to work on prosthetic limbs for people who have suffered strokes. My mother suffered a stroke last year, which is part of what motivated me," Yasmin added.
"I can't think of a finer student than Anika to be the first Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholar from the Florida Keys to receive a four year college scholarship," said John Kent Cooke, a director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and chairman of the Board of Cooke Communications, which publishes the Key West Citizen. "I wish Anika great success with her studies at MIT."
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation was established in 2000 in the will of the late sportsman and philanthropist Jack Kent Cooke.
Since its inception, the foundation has been providing scholarships for many young high school, undergraduate and graduate scholars studying worldwide. Each year the program helps approximately 650 students achieve their dreams via financial aid.