Caleb Sedam of Logansport one of 75 students nationwide honored by prestigious program
KOKOMO, Ind. — Caleb Sedam of Logansport, a student in Ivy Tech Community College’s Kokomo Region, has been awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship worth up to $40,000 a year to complete a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.
Sedam, the 19-year-old son of Jeff and Diann Sedam, is completing an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies at Ivy Tech this summer and plans to continue his education at Purdue University this fall. As a home-schooled student, he completed his high school work last May by taking Ivy Tech classes for both high school and college credit through the 2014-2015 school year.
With a year of credits completed, Sedam started fulltime at Ivy Tech last fall, taking classes at the community college’s campuses in Kokomo, Logansport, Lafayette, and South Bend over the past two years. While at Ivy Tech, he earned a 4.0 grade point average and was active in Phi Theta Kappa, the international academic honor society for community college students.
Sedam is one of 75 community college students selected for the Cooke Scholarship from a competitive nationwide pool this year. Cooke Scholarships fund the costs of attending college not covered by other financial aid, plus academic advising, stipends for internships, study abroad, and opportunities to network with other Cooke Scholars and alumni. In addition, after earning a bachelor’s degree, each Cooke Scholar will be eligible for a scholarship for graduate school worth up to $50,000 a year for up to four years.
All of the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars have financial need and strong records of academic achievement as shown by grades, leadership skills, awards, extraordinary service to others and perseverance in the face of adversity.
“I’m so excited by the opportunities offered by this program,” Sedam said. “This scholarship will allow me to go right to Purdue and to focus more of my time at Purdue on my studies instead of having to work. It will help me fulfill my goal of getting through my bachelor’s degree debt-free and opens up the possibility of attending an Ivy League university for graduate school.”
Sedam plans to study cellular and biomolecular engineering at Purdue. Future plans include a doctorate – whether an M.D. or a Ph.D – to possibly go into medical research and teaching in gene therapy or therapeutic cloning.
The Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the largest private scholarship in the nation for students transferring from two-year community colleges to four-year institutions that award bachelor’s degrees.
“Many elite colleges and universities are reluctant to admit large numbers of transfer students from community colleges, even when these students have excellent grades and other qualifications,” said Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold O. Levy. “This is unfair and unwise. The Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholars have a long record of success at the most selective colleges and graduate schools, such as the Ivy League in the United States and the University of Oxford in Great Britain. These extraordinary young people have proven repeatedly and conclusively that top community college students have the ability to thrive in top four-year colleges. They deserve equal educational opportunity.”
Leo Studach, chair of science at Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Region and advisor of Phi Theta Kappa’s Beta Gamma Zeta chapter at the Logansport Campus, agreed.
“Caleb is a student that seeks out every opportunity,” Studach said. “He first learned about the Jack Kent Cooke program in 2014 at one of Phi Theta Kappa’s college completion events at the Logansport campus. Isa Adney, a community college graduate and Phi Theta Kappan now known for her inspirational writing and video work, spoke about how the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship had opened so many incredible opportunities for her.
“This past fall, Caleb began working on his application in earnest with his mind set on attending Purdue. All of us at the College are immensely proud of Caleb’s accomplishments and know he will go on to accomplish great things at Purdue and beyond.”
Sedam’s connections to Ivy Tech go back to 2008 and his participation as a 10-year-old in Project Succeed, a program sponsored by the College aimed at teaching young people how to think creatively by inventing a new product. Sedam’s “Tipnomore” cupholder took first prize. Growing up, he was active in 4-H for 10 years, serving as a Junior Leader, and he capped his Boy Scout career with a project for the American Red Cross in Logansport that earned him Eagle Scout designation.
This summer, for the second year, he’s working as a temporary employee in plant maintenance for the Andersons, traveling the area during the day doing soil samples aimed at improving the efficiency of fertilizer application for the company’s farmer customers. In the evening, as he has since December, he works as a merchandiser for American Greetings, stocking local stores with greeting cards and party supplies.
In terms of hobbies, Sedam says he loves to read, tend his garden, and fish – along with volunteer work that includes working with veterans and teaching agriculture and gardening through the Purdue Extension. His love of travel has led him to Europe and South Africa, along with domestic destinations. Trips are planned to Europe in June and Costa Rica next March.
His journey as a Cooke scholar begins with a three-day conference near Washington, D.C., at the end of July where he’ll meet his fellow scholarship winners and learn more about the program. He’ll leave with gratitude to his parents, especially his mother, for the opportunities he’s already had. “Without their support, I definitely would not be as motivated as I am today and definitely would not be in the position I am today,” he said. His parents’ work continues as they home-school his two younger brothers.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. It offers the largest scholarships in the U.S., comprehensive counseling and other support services to students from 8th grade to graduate school. Since 2000 it has awarded about $147 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 students and $90 million in grants to organizations that serve outstanding low-income students. www.jkcf.org