Ten students from Georgia State University’s Perimeter College have been named semifinalists for the 2023 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The Jack Kent Cooke award is a competitive scholarship for the nation’s top two-year college students. It provides recipients with 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 Perimeter’s ten semifinalists. They are among 459 semifinalists selected from more than 1,700 applicants attending 215 community colleges in 38 states.
DUNWOODY, Ga.—Serin Kim hurdled multiple obstacles to achieve the success she’s experiencing as a standout college student and being named a 2023 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship semifinalist.
The 24-year-old psychology student is now poised to transfer from Perimeter College at Georgia State University to one of her dream schools to pursue her bachelor’s degree. But In 2017, Kim, a South Korean native, wasn’t sure how her life would unfold. She graduated from a Georgia high school as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) student and recalls getting denied for acceptance at multiple state universities.
“That was a huge shock for me,” she said.
“It was really just a waiting game, hoping for immigration reform, hoping for any changes to Georgia law.”
While she waited, Kim focused on working, hopeful that she’d be able to save enough money to attend Perimeter College, which did accept DACA students.
Kim says the delay also gave her a chance to address her mental health which was impacted by a rough patch endured in high school. A usually straight A student, Kim burned out during her senior year from taking a large number of advanced courses and working after school. As a result, her grades tanked which lowered her GPA and, along with her DACA status, affected her ability to get into college.
“So that gap, four years that I took from education, was a huge reflection for me about how I go about studying, how I go about planning my schedules and what I can handle and how to manage my time and stress and all of that,” Kim said.
“And that also fueled my love for psychology as well—learning about the importance of mental health, not only to help others, but also to help myself.
“But that was, I think, a blessing in disguise, because I was able to reflect during the four years (spent between high school graduation and enrolling in college) about what I could better.”
Kim also counts her brother among her blessings. As a DACA student too, she watched him work 72 hours a week at a local deli before he found a path to citizenship via a program offered through the United States Army. Ian Kim is now fulfilling his dream of attending college by studying computer science at the University of Wisconsin.
“He really encouraged me that no matter what barriers, where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Kim said.
Since enrolling at Perimeter in 2021, Kim has maintained a 4.0 GPA, while taking 18 credit hours per semester, including lots of Honors College classes. She also participated in a research conference project with the help of history professor Dr. Dana Wiggins, who Kim calls “amazing,” and volunteered as a “listener” for an online community that provides emotional support for individuals.
In addition to a rigorous class load that Kim maintained up until December, she continues to work as a medical assistant, as well as a house and pet sitter for clients that her twin sister Chaerin (a veterinary’s assistant) recommends. Also, in December, Kim received the Golden Door Scholarship, which awards high-achieving, undocumented students with funding for college. She says that receiving two private scholarships of this magnitude will give her funding for a graduate degree and provide an extended community of support.
Kim’s number one transfer school is Emory University.
“I’m very happy to step back into my education and take hold of my career path and future,” she said.
Winners of the 2023 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship will be announced in May.
Story by Kysa Anderson Daniels
Photo by Bill Roa