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Macomb Community College student one of 90 nationwide awarded prestigious Jack Kent Cooke scholarship for transfer students

– Monday, May 18, 2015 12:00AM

Provides up to $40,000 per year to support bachelor-degree completion

For Macomb Community College student Dillon DeWitt, 28, the path to academic success was anything but a straight line. DeWitt was named one of only 90 recipients nationwide to receive the 2015 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship , which is awarded annually to outstanding community college students with financial need who are seeking to complete their bachelor's degrees.

Worth up to $40,000 per year, it is the largest private scholarship for community college transfer students in the country.  Each award is intended to cover a significant share of the student’s educational expenses – including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees – for the two to three years necessary to complete a bachelor’s degree. 

DeWitt, who recently completed an associate of arts degree, said the scholarship means he can now apply to “some very selective schools” with a realistic expectation of being able to pay the tuition. It’s a remarkable development for a student who once believed college wasn’t a possibility, thanks largely to the financial hardship he encountered while growing up.

“I’d almost been controlled by my circumstances and was letting them control my trajectory in life,” DeWitt said.  At Macomb, he said, he learned to rise above those circumstances.

DeWitt grew up on Houghton Lake in an impoverished family on public assistance. He admits being a mediocre student in high school who graduated with no firm plans. After re-connecting with his mother after a period of estrangement, DeWitt found Macomb and moved to Sterling Heights to live with her and attend classes at Macomb’s Center Campus in Clinton Township. There, he discovered that he loved learning and “enjoyed the success and challenges of coursework.” He then encountered a major setback.

DeWitt had finished nearly all of the required courses for his degree – leaving mostly electives to complete – when his mother died in 2013. That and additional personal challenges led to a roughly two-year gap in his attendance. Eventually, after having relocated to Thomasville, Ga., he discovered Macomb’s online classes and decided to finish his degree remotely.

“Dillon DeWitt’s story says a lot about the power of education to transform lives,” said James Jacobs, PhD, president, Macomb Community College. “Macomb Community College is focused on student success, whether that means career preparation and direct entry into the workforce or pursuing an advanced degree. The scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation ensures Dillon will have the financial resources to fulfill his potential.”

Through a grant from the Macomb Community College Foundation, DeWitt was able to return to Michigan to attend Macomb’s commencement ceremony on May 15.

Macomb, Dewitt said, is full of “toughened, determined students whose credentials are not simply plaques to adorn our walls, but affirmations of intellectual and creative worth. The degree I am about to earn has an inexpressible value to me as a symbol of attainment against adversity.”

About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College (www.macomb.edu) is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 48,000 students annually.  Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges.  The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Dillon-DeWitt

From left: James Sawyer, provost and senior vice president, Learning Unit,
Macomb Community College; Macomb graduate Dillon DeWitt, winner of a 2015
Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship; Macomb President
James Jacobs.

Media Contact: James Melton, 586.445.7271, meltonj@macomb.edu