Student Spotlight: Nahiris Bahamón Fernández
Nahiris Bahamón Fernández
During her studies at College of DuPage, Nahiris Bahamón Fernández received several impressive awards, including the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship, the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students.
Bahamón Fernández used that scholarship – which provided $30,000 annually for up to three years – to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied biology and anthropology. Now she's received the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarship, a one-time award of $50,000 to continue her education, which she will do at Boston University this fall studying medicine.
"Being awarded a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship is a great honor," she said. "I feel truly fortunate to be supported by the foundation for a second time!"
In 2005, as a teenager preparing to attend college and study medicine in her native Colombia, Bahamón Fernández and her family moved to the U.S. due to political upheaval. She began attending College of DuPage while adapting to a new culture as her family settled in Oswego.
While at COD, she participated in the Undergraduate Research Collaborative, a five-year initiative funded by the National Science Foundation that provided research opportunities for two-year college students at COD, Harper College, Oakton Community College and the City College of Chicago.
"Being part of the URC was a great experience that allowed me to develop and apply my analytical and critical thinking skills in ways that I wouldn't have being able to do through attending class alone," she said. "It also prepared me for the rigorousness of the science education at UW-Madison."
Richard Jarman, professor of Chemistry at COD who Bahamón Fernández cites as a mentor, was impressed by her work.
"This award is proof that good things do happen to nice people," he said. "While professors are often cited as being a source of inspiration for their students, her achievement is a source of inspiration for me, and it is my honor to have had the opportunity to contribute to her success."
In addition to receiving her first Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship, Bahamón Fernández also was one of only 20 community college students in the United States to earn a prestigious $5,000 Guistwhite Scholarship, which is based on academic achievement and participation in Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of community colleges. She was named scond team of the All-USA Community and Junior Colleges Academic Team, and she was an Honors Scholar at COD.
While at the University of Madison, Bahamón Fernández was on the Dean's list and graduated with distinction. Now she prepares to study medicine and earn an MD/MPH dual degree, with the hopes of becoming a primary care physician and working internationally.
As for current College of DuPage students, Bahamón Fernández advises them to never give up on what they really want to become.
"There were many times when I felt like my goals seemed too far away, almost impossible to achieve," she said. "Fortunately, I had people around me who believed in me and encourage me to keep working toward achieving the goals I set for myself."