Local teen one of 60 in nation to win $220,000 college scholarship

Student is first at Talawanda to win Cooke Foundation money.

OXFORD — A Talawanda High School senior has been chosen among 5,600 applicants across America for a prestigious, four-year college scholarship worth nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

Kaydence Morris was recently standing in a lunch line with friends when she received an emailed notification from officials with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Cooke College Scholarship about the final decision on her application.

Morris, who is one of only 60 winners nationwide and will receive $55,000 annually for four years of college, was too nervous at first to open it and only relented at the urging of her classmates.

“It was just so crazy,” she said. “And I was with some of my favorite people.”

Morris is also among an elite group.

Only four other Ohio high school seniors won the $220,000 total scholarship package and she is southwest Ohio’s only winner this year.

And she is the first student in Talawanda’s history to win a Cooke Foundation scholarship, said school district officials.

According to foundation officials, the Cooke College Scholarship Program “seeks to help high-achieving students with financial need earn a college degree.”

“In addition to substantial financial support, scholars also receive ongoing academic coaching and advising, graduate school and career advising, and access to a network of thriving and motivated peers in the Cooke Scholar community. Scholars will also receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and access to graduate school funding.”

Active in Future Farmers of America (FFA), Morris is also captain of the girls’ varsity soccer team, a member of the Talawanda swim and dive team and a captain of the school’s track and field team.

The national honors society student is leaning toward studying at Ohio State University and may pursue a degree in agricultural engineering and communications.

“I’m not exactly sure yet. I want to see where college takes me.”

Talawanda High School science teacher Scott Schmid said whatever college and career path Morris choses will be one of success.

“She works very hard and she is so joyful about learning,” said Schmid. “She is an exceptional person and she tries to put a smile on everyone’s face every day.”

“She has been so successful at so many things.”

Holli Hansel, spokeswoman for Talawanda Schools, described Morris as having “an aura of confidence about her and she is very well spoken.

“She’s a neat kid.”

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