Bergen Class of ’24 Grad Gets $55,000 Scholarship

PARAMUS, N.J. – As one of 60 high-achieving community college students selected for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, recent Bergen Community College graduate Ricardo Santana will receive up to $55,000 per year from the organization to complete a bachelor’s degree. The highly competitive national scholarship drew nearly 1,700 applications from over 380 community colleges across the nation.

“When I consider all of my future academic endeavors, affordability plays such a huge role, and in some cases, forces me to consider turning away from wonderful opportunities,” Santana said. “Being selected as a 2024 Jack Kent Cooke Scholar has broken that barrier for me, I feel that now I can truly shoot for the stars.”

Ricardo Santana
Santana, of Bogota, majored in political science and aspires to become an attorney. He will attend Williams College this fall.

At Bergen, Santana served as co-president of the Bergen Honors Association for the Judith K. Winn School of Honors. As a peer writing tutor and academic coach at the College’s Cerullo Learning Assistance Center, he earned the College Reading and Learning Association’s 2023 Rick Sheets Outstanding Tutor Award, making him the top tutor from more than 1,200 accredited tutoring programs across the country. Santana tutored students at all levels of writing, psychology, and criminal justice. He also trained writing center tutors at Teaneck High School and has assisted with facilitating in-class tutoring and academic coaching presentations.

In his hometown, Santana founded Bogota Helping Hands to increase teen involvement in local community affairs. For his efforts, he received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for academic excellence and community involvement in Bergen County. He also participated in a two-month internship in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and has interned in the legal field since high school.

Bergen’s Alpha Epsilon Phi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society of two-year colleges, assists in connecting students with scholarships such as the Jack Kent Cooke award. Twenty-two Bergen students have received the award during the last 11 years.

“Ricardo has been a shining star in our college community who embodies the idea of student success,” Assistant Director of Phi Theta Kappa and Honors Anna Gergen said. “We are so thrilled that the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has recognized Ricardo as a scholarship recipient as we are positive he will use this opportunity as a catalyst for his future endeavors.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Applications were evaluated on the applicant’s academic prowess, financial need, persistence, community service, and leadership qualities. 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. For more information, visit

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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