MCCC Student Selected for
Prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship


West Windsor, N.J.-- He does homework on the treadmill and on car trips, and can function well on three to six hours of sleep. His philosophy at present? "Perfection is impossible, but it must be striven for nonetheless," he says.

David C. Hoyt of West Windsor has achieved a first as a student at Mercer County Community College. He is the recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, created by the billionaire philanthropist to ensure that exceptional community college students are able to transfer to the four-year school of their choice. Only 40 students across the country are selected for this prestigious honor annually, which entitles recipients to $30,000 per year for up to three years to earn their bachelor's degrees.
Scholarship winner David Hoyt, third from left, pictured with, from left, Vice President for Academic Affairs Guy Generals, Director of Transfer and Career Services Laurene Jones, and MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue.

MCCC President, Dr. Patricia Donohue, called the awarding of the scholarship exceptional and told Hoyt, "We are honored to have you as a student here."

According to MCCC Director of Transfer and Career Services Laurene Jones, who has worked with many students over the years who have been nominated for the scholarship, "The odds of being selected are slim. They select so few."

Hoyt, who maintains a 4.0 GPA, will graduate from Mercer this month with an associate degree in Liberal Arts. With the goal of being an international diplomat or businessman, he has taken the toughest courses Mercer has to offer: three languages (Chinese, Arabic and Japanese), honors microeconomics, history, macroeconomics and developmental psychology, calculus, physics and more. He is president of the MCCC chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for high achieving community college students, and is also president of Alpha Mu Gamma, the international language honor society. He is past editor of the college's student newspaper, The College Voice, for which he earned an award from the New Jersey Collegiate Press Association in the news writing category, and served as co-producer/technical director of MCN Live, the student weekly cable television news show.

Upon learning of the scholarship, which was presented with Mercer's full executive team in attendance, Hoyt said, "Thank you for giving me this chance. I believe I have a better chance to accomplish my goals having attended Mercer than if I had gone the regular route through high school and beyond. Mercer was my second chance."

Hoyt began classes at Mercer in 2007 after leaving high school due to illness several years earlier. He notes that his return was spurred in part by his work as a lifeguard and swim instructor at the YWCA Princeton, where he worked in the pool with handicapped children and young adults in the YWCA's Adapted Program. "It did not deter them. I witnessed people performing at their best against seemingly impossible odds," he said.

Hoyt knew immediately that returning to school was the right decision. "By the end of my first class at Mercer, I almost cried, I was so happy to be back."

He believes he has learned study skills and a work ethic that will never leave him. "I have a little voice that tells me to keep on going," he said. "I am willing to sacrifice a lot in pursuit of my dreams."
Jones notes that the application process for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, which calls for multiple essays, was itself a testimony to Hoyt's dedication. In addition to the more standard questions about his ambitions, personal story, and the transfer schools he applied to and why, Hoyt was asked to draw on lessons of history to discuss solutions to world problems. He focused on diplomacy. His father had given him a book, entitled Taiko, that detailed political turmoil in 16th century Japan. The scholar who counseled diplomacy rescued the country and became its ruler. Hoyt drew on that wisdom. "Diplomacy will be the key at this critical juncture in world history," he said. "We will only solve the world's considerable problems through diplomacy and an ability to understand each other."

Understanding each other is something Hoyt believes in quite literally. "Not enough Americans can speak a foreign language. I believe language is vital to our future," he said.

Recognizing the rising role of China, Hoyt has decided to focus intently on his mastery of Chinese. He spent time last summer at Middlebury College in Vermont in an immersion program in Mandarin Chinese and plans to return this June. No English is spoken, and students typically spend five hours in class and nine hours on homework daily. At the start of the program, "you couldn't even tell someone how stressed you were, because we didn't know the word for that yet," he recalls. His first assignment to write an essay in Chinese was the hardest. Staring at his computer screen, he had no idea how to start or even if his computer had Chinese language software. But he vowed to stay at his desk until it was completed. "By 4 a.m., I had something." And by the end of the program, students were nearly fluent - even talking Chinese slang as they let loose on Middlebury's soccer field. He says he has even spoken Chinese in his dreams.

Hoyt has set his sights on attending a top university and expects to get word from the colleges he has applied to by mid-May. He plans to pursue a dual major in international relations and economics and a minor in Asian studies.

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