Three USC Dornsife undergraduates earn Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarships

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship recipients Rheannon Abeyta, Emily Amador and Madeleine Cornejo

USC Dornsife students Rheannon Abeyta, Emily Amador and Madeleine Cornejo have earned scholarships from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. (Photos/Courtesy of Rheannon Abeyta, Emily Amador and Madeleine Cornejo)


Three USC Dornsife undergraduates earn Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarships

The students join a growing community of more than 3,300 high-achieving young scholars helped by the foundation to attend top-tier, four-year institutions.

October 13, 2023

By Darrin S. Joy

Three USC undergraduates have earned scholarships from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

The students “have demonstrated outstanding academic performance. We expect them to continue along this path and to contribute greatly to your institution and society,” wrote foundation Executive Director Giuseppe Basili in an email to USC President Carol L. Folt.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarships: Rheannon Abeyta
(Photo/Courtesy of Rheannon Abeyta)

Rheannon Abeyta, a member of the Ohkay Owingeh and Kewa Pueblo tribes, hails from New Mexico. The first-year college student majoring in human biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences says she’s aiming for a career in sports medicine at a college or professional sports program.

“The Cooke Scholarship helped me afford higher education and has also connected me with a long-lasting community,” she said. “It has made it possible for me to gain an education, and I am able to represent Native Americans in hopes to inspire more to obtain a higher education.”

She says she’s found a supportive community with ample opportunity at USC. “Not only that, but the school spirit and athletic programs are amazing.”

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarships: Emily Amador
(Photo/Courtesy of Emily Amador)

Emily Amador, a South Los Angeles native, is the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico. Her mother is from Jalisco, and her father is from Michoacán.

Majoring in law, history and culture at USC Dornsife, she says she’s interested in “pursuing public policy and law as a gateway into directly supporting my community through legislative action.”

She says after graduation she will attend law school then run for Congress to advocate for civil rights and ultimately land in the White House.

Her relationship with the Cooke Foundation began when she was in eighth grade, as part of the foundation’s Young Scholars Program, and she says it has been transformative for her. “The financial support of the foundation has allowed me to pursue academic curiosities and passions notwithstanding family financial constraints.”

Amador says she’s found happiness in the USC community. “USC is an environment that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, and I am profoundly appreciative of that.”

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarships: Madeleine Cornejo
(Photo/Courtesy of Madeleine Cornejo)

Junior Madeleine Cornejo transferred to USC Dornsife from a community college in Dallas.

Born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Irving, Texas, she says the scholarship’s support is proving invaluable as she pursues a major in psychology at USC Dornsife.

“Figuring out a way to afford school while being a student can definitely take a mental toll on someone, so earning the Cooke Scholarship has allowed me to not experience this and take advantage of all opportunities,” she said.

Cornejo hopes to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology before embarking on a career at a clinic or hospital. She says she’s been most impressed by USC’s diverse community of students and the spectrum of academic and social opportunities the university offers.

“At USC, I have felt welcome since day one,” she said, “so I am very happy to be able to call it my home.”

The Cooke Foundation scholarship program includes opportunities for summer internship stipends, financial support to attend academic and professional conferences, and comprehensive educational and career advising. Since 2000, the foundation has awarded $282 million in scholarships to students from eighth grade through graduate school.

USC Gould alum honors her father’s legacy with scholarship

8523 Terry Solis, with husband David Flores (JD 1981), was inspired to create a scholarship endowment to memorialize the impact of her father, Francisco “Frank” Solis (JD 1949) on her life and work.
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Honoring her father
Terry Solis recognizes impact of Frank Solis (JD 1949) with new scholarship
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When Terry Solis attended the USC Gould School of Law all-class reunion last fall with her husband David Flores (JD 1981), she realized an opportunity to commemorate the impact of her father on her life and her work.

Francisco “Frank” Solis (JD 1949) was active in Los Angeles politics and an officer in the Mexican American Bar Association in Los Angeles. He had a strong influence on Solis who recently retired from leading the company she founded, The Solis Group, which provides project management services for public and private construction projects. At the reunion, she and her husband picked up the spring 2022 issue of USC Law Magazine, and as they flipped through it, they spotted an article about several alumni creating an endowment in support of need-based scholarships.

Solis considered her father’s legacy, the lessons she had learned from him that she’d been applying all of her life, and the law school that set her father on the path to an accomplished career.

“I remembered the impact of education on my father, and what it meant to me — the first in my family since my dad to go to college,” says Solis. “I knew the moment I read that story that I was going to do something to honor my father.”

That spark set into motion a $100,000 scholarship endowment named for Francisco Fernandez Solis. The scholarship will support students for whom affordability may be an obstacle and positive consideration will be given to students who advocate and/or promote Hispanic communities.

“We are grateful to Terry Solis for memorializing the legacy of her father with this generous gift,” says Andrew Guzman, former dean and now USC Provost. “We’re honored to accept this donation symbolizing Frank Solis’ grit and determination. It will serve as an inspiration to our students.

Frank Solis (1918-1991), a veteran of the United States Army, earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish with a minor in religion at USC in 1940. After graduation, he worked in an office in East Los Angeles as a criminal defense lawyer, sometimes traveling as far as Tulare and Fresno to meet with his clients. “He cared about the people he represented,” says Solis.

Flores never met Frank Solis but puts Solis’ achievements in perspective with the racial barriers to success in Los Angeles during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. “He had been a teenager in the late ’30s in Los Angeles surrounded by discrimination and yet he graduated from USC law school,” says Flores.

Terry Solis’ company has thrived for more than 30 years, with her daughter Elizabeth now the CEO and owner and her grandsons working there as analysts. With her decision to endow a scholarship, she shares the good fortune she credits to her father. “I hope students who receive the scholarship will be inspired by him,” she says.

The post USC Gould alum honors her father’s legacy with scholarship appeared first on USC News.

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