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Four students and one graduate from Georgia State University’s Perimeter College recently were named as semifinalists for the 2022 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is a competitive scholarship for the nation’s top community (two-year) college students, and provides recipients up to $55,000 per year, placing the scholarship among the largest private awards in the country for community college transfer students. The following is a profile of one of the five semifinalists.
By Kysa Anderson Daniels
Photo by Bill Roa
CLARKSTON, Ga–Ebony Milner was homeless and sleeping in her mother’s car when she finished her associate degree in health sciences from Georgia State University Perimeter College in 2020.
Even under these tough circumstances, Milner managed to graduate with high honors.
“I would complete my assignments in the RaceTrac and McDonald’s parking lot because they had Wi-Fi,” she recalls.
“I finished with a 4.0 that semester.”
Today, Milner is more “determined, diligent and persistent” than ever to keep moving toward her goals.
“I did not have an easy roadmap,” she says of her life.
“However, I believe I went through these obstacles to make me stronger.
“I shed many tears and felt a lot a pain in my heart, but I kept going.”
Milner’s perseverance has led to her being named as one of 440 national semifinalists for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. She says being among the nation’s top contenders has bolstered her confidence.
“If I could be honest, I was not confident in my capabilities,” she admits.
“It took prayer, self-love and redefinition to realize my worth and potential.”
The 24-year-old was raised by her mother and grandmother and says the family experienced sporadic financial instability and major health challenges when she was growing up. Milner says doctors diagnosed her mom with a noncancerous cyst that required lots of medical attention, while her grandmother battled breast cancer. Her grandmother seemed to defeat the cancer, but then the unexpected happened.
“On February 23, 2015, my grandmother passed away from cirrhosis of the liver,” Milner recalls sadly.
“After my grandmother’s passing, I experienced homelessness. My mother and I slept in the car and stayed in hotels. I was still able to graduate (from high school) on time, in 2016, and I was ranked number one at Vidalia Academy.”
Things eventually got back on track for Milner and her mom, before more hard times arose.
“After 2016, my life was going into a positive direction until the pandemic hit in 2020 and my mother’s job laid her off,” Milner says.
“Although this was a hard time in my life, my mother’s and grandmother’s medical encounters inspired me to work in the medical field. I knew I could make an impact in my society.”
The first in her family to attend college, Milner’s career goal is to work in medical technology.
“I was able to make a decision when I started working at Emory University Hospital as an HLA (human leuckocyte antigen) specimen processing technician,” she explains, noting that she was still living from her car when she started the job.
“I assist in processing samples of patients that need transplants.”
Milner cultivated her passion for science and medicine while studying at Perimeter College, taking classes in everything from organic chemistry to Human Anatomy/ Physiology.
“I have a fascination with the revolution and advancement of science,” she says.
“[Perimeter] professors were very knowledgeable, and I can tell that they love educating others.”
Also at Perimeter, Milner was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, a national honor society for two-year college students.
Her future academic plans include getting a bachelor’s degree from either Agnes Scott College, Georgia State University or Georgia Tech, later applying for the Medical Technology certification program at Emory Healthcare.
Milner believes she is more than up to the challenge of succeeding in her future career and as a Jack Kent Cooke scholar.
“I knew that I could not feel defeated,” she says of her past challenges.
“I knew that I wanted a better future for myself.”
Winners of the 2022 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship will be announced in May.