For Immediate Release
April 29, 2013

LCC Student Sean Gestson Wins Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship

Lower Columbia College student Sean Gestson has been selected to receive the nation’s largest scholarship for community college transfer students, up to $30,000 per year, from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Gestson, an environmental engineering student, will graduate in June and plans to continue his studies towards a bachelor’s degree at the University of Portland. He is one of only three Washington residents this year to earn the prestigious award. Past LCC recipients include 2006 graduate Tadd Wheeler, who continued on to earn a doctorate from the University of Idaho, and Camilia Wood, a 2009 graduate and now a student at the Brigham Young University Law School.

A 2003 R.A. Long graduate, Gestson did well in high school but did not plan to attend college. Three generations of his family, including both parents, had successful jobs working in a local mill and he expected to follow a similar path.

Then, after several years working in retail and other service industry jobs, Sean decided he wanted a more challenging career and that would require returning to school.

“I floundered around trying to find the right job after high school and really lacked the confidence that I could be successful in college,” Gestson said.

But a cousin, who attended the University of Washington, encouraged him to give it a try.

“I needed to know that I had tried everything,” he said.

So he enrolled at LCC and found his fears quickly disappeared.

“We often sell ourselves short and don’t know what we’re capable of,” Gestson said.

Two years later he “still hasn’t lost the excitement” for learning and is thrilled with the opportunities the scholarship will provide.

Gestson shares a passion for the environment with his wife, Ashley. He hopes to make a difference through involvement in the LCC sustainability club and similar community efforts. He also enjoys the challenge of a field that combines the application of science with math and has been inspired by his LCC instructors Dave Cordero, Environmental Studies, and Peteris Livins, Physics.

Another challenge, as a married student who works part-time while attending college, has been funding the cost of education. Scholarships through the LCC Foundation and assistance from the Student Support Services program for other college expenses helped cover his associate degree. The couple’s dual income has disqualified him for need-based financial aid but isn’t enough to meet college costs, especially at a transfer university. This week’s announcement will enable him to complete a bachelor’s degree and beyond.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Program has announced awards this week to 73 community college students out of 769 nominations from 377 community colleges in 45 states and the District of Columbia. The chosen scholars stood out for their exceptional academic ability and achievements, financial need, persistence, leadership, and desire to help others, according to the JKC Foundation. They were selected by a committee of 37 admissions professionals and professors, from selective four-year institutions and community colleges.


For additional information contact:

Sheila Burgin, Assistant Director of Foundation & Development,

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

News and Media Contact:

 Wendy Hall, Vice President, Effectiveness & College Relations, Lower Columbia College


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