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.
CLARKSTON, Ga--Ariel Ford loves the community feel of a good theater production—both on stage and behind the scenes.
A semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, Ford has already honed her acting chops at Duluth High School when she came to Perimeter College. With the advice of Aaron Gottlieb, academic theater arts specialist, she immediately began working with the theater arts program on the Clarkston Campus, joining the Drama Club and working as a student ambassador for theater department events.
“I love theater—both onstage and off, and even the business and marketing aspect,” she said. “I’ve discovered that I want to create stories that various types of people can resonate with. I hope it inspires them to tell their own stories, creating a chain of openness and understanding."
In the past few years, she has worked both onstage in high school productions of the musical, “Footloose,” to backstage, as stage manager for Perimeter College’s Theatre Arts Guild production, ‘A Jury of Her Peers.” She also was the only Perimeter College student to send her audition in for the Georgia Theatre Conference.
Her work ethic and maturity earned her a spot as a stage manager as a first-year college student, said Gottlieb.
“It is unusual for us to position a first-year student as a stage manager without them first taking on another backstage position with us,” Gottlieb said. “However, from the beginning, it was clear that Ariel entered our program with a maturity and competency that even our second-year students sometimes lack. During our time together, Ariel has consistently stepped up, sought out opportunities, and excelled in them,” he said.
The experience working backstage still resonates with her, especially seeing how the business part of theater operates, Ford said.
“I love seeing how even working backstage, you can how the story progresses, she said. “I am also interested in how the business of a show happens—how to finance, market and get it out into the world.”
While working in the theater has always been one of her chief goals, coming to Georgia State’s Perimeter College was the best option for her, financially, she said.
“I enrolled at Georgia State two weeks before classes started. There was a financial issue in my family at the time, and we had to change course. I was initially really nervous about the redirection, but immediately fell in love with the school’s culture and support,” she said.
During the past two years, she has taken classes on the Atlanta, Alpharetta and Clarkston campuses and online. “I loved all of it and made some great friends and connections," she said.
Like the theater and Perimeter College, Ford appreciates how the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation encourages a sense of community for its scholars. “I like how they help and support their scholars by building a community,” she said.
Ford hopes to continue her undergraduate education at Howard University, Emerson University or New York University.