TCC President Edna Baehre-Kolovani surprised Sorey with the news April 8 at an impromptu celebration in her office. Members of Sorey’s family and TCC faculty and administrators congratulated the 20-year-old engineering student, who hopes to continue his education at Georgia Tech.
Sorey said the scholarship will help him pursue his dream of becoming an aerospace engineer. “This is a great honor,” he said.
More than 3,700 applicants representing 737 community colleges vied for the 2014 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country. The foundation provides as much as $30,000 a year for up to three years to the nation’s best low-income community college students seeking to complete a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university.
Scholars were selected based on high academic ability and achievements, persistence, leadership and financial need. The last TCC recipient was Jessica Watson in 2005. She is currently a law student at the University of San Diego.
Sorey, who has a 4.0 grade point average at TCC, said his GPA at Grassfield High School wasn’t that great. “I was accepted to a couple of four-year schools, but they were expensive and far away,” he said. “TCC is more of a family. Everyone helped me along in my studies. I was able to go to school while not putting myself in debt.”
Linda Koonce, Sorey’s mother, said she works with math in her job but “Zachary’s math problems go on for pages and pages.” And, she added, “he works with the TV on.”
Two uncles, Donald and Glenn Koonce, were on hand for the celebration. Glenn Koonce is a 1978 TCC alumnus who now has a doctorate and is an associate professor in the School of Education at Regent University. Another uncle, the late Woodley J. “Woody” Koonce, was for many years principal of Hickory High School in Chesapeake.
Sorey said he’s the first member of his immediate family to attend college, and his uncles were role models. “My Uncle Glenn went to TCC, and it inspired me to see how far he went,” Sorey said.
Students interested in applying for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship can contact Kellie Sorey (no relation to Zachary Sorey) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-822-1065. Information is also available on the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation website.