By Bill Parry
Eleni Romano, 24, a mechanical engineering major at LaGuardia Community College, was named a recipient of the prestigious and highly competitive national Jack Kent Cook Scholarship last week. She is the ninth winner from the Long Island City campus since 2006.
Romano was one of the 47 students across the country to be awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which provides up to $40,000 annually for a maximum of three years to complete their bachelor’s degree.
“Being selected for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is an astounding accomplishment — a testament to a student’s incredible work,” LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow said. “Community colleges educate the vast majority of low-income, recent immigrant, or otherwise disadvantaged students, and giving them the opportunity to pursue their bachelor’s or even graduate work with significantly fewer financial worries is in incredible benefit. We’re so proud of Eleni Romano, and know that with the ability this award will afford her to focus on her studies, the possibilities of what she can accomplish are that much wider, and we all stand to benefit.”
This year, nearly 2,500 students applied for the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.
Romano and her family moved to the United States from Athens when she was 9 years old. She is married to Marco Gonzalez, also a LaGuardia student.
“The Jack Kent Cooke scholarship will allow me to pursue a bachelor’s and possible graduate degrees — training that I need to continue my work with Professor Toland on commercial gyroscopes — a navigational mechanism that’s found in planes, smart phones, and satellites,” Romano said. “Our goal is to make commercial gyroscopes, which are five to 10 pounds, into a chip. This research is really cool because it is directly related to something with a real world application. But right now we’re still in the theoretical, in the sense that we are conducting mathematics and the code in order to someday build such a device.”
Romano was a member of the President’s Society, LaGuardia Community College’s leadership development program for students interested in STEM fields. She has consistently made the Dean’s List for high academic achievement and is a member of the Honors Program. While at LaGuardia, she received several scholarships from the LaGuardia Community College Foundation to help make ends meet.
“Community colleges provide an affordable first step for many students with financial need to begin their higher education journey,” Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold Levy said. “Cooke Transfer Scholars have demonstrated incredible ability and ambition, and we look forward to supporting their success at universities such as Stanford, Cornell, and MIT.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr