RCC’s Jonathan Galdamez Paguay: A Semifinalist for Prestigious National Scholarship


At just 19 years old, Rockland Community College student Jonathan Galdamez Paguay is far from average. On March 14, he was selected as a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship—one of the most prestigious scholarships in the United States for students transferring to a four-year university. Notably, he is the only student to be selected in Rockland County, and he is excited about having the opportunity to represent Rockland at a national level.

Raised in Rockland by a single mother who has worked at a Dunkin in West Nyack, NY, ever since Jonathan was born, he has been inspired by her dedication and rise through the ranks. Witnessing her work ethic and determination, he was motivated to pursue Business. "She has always told me to pursue my dreams and that everything is possible," Jonathan reflects. "I am the person I am today because of her, and I wish to inspire others the way she has inspired me." Despite facing early academic challenges due to language barriers, Jonathan's perseverance paid off as he caught up with his peers by seventh grade and continued to pursue academic success through high school. Despite discouragement from others, he chose to attend Rockland Community College (RCC), a decision that has led to numerous achievements.

In his time at RCC, Jonathan has excelled both academically and as a leader. He has been an active member of the Sam Draper Honors Program and used his major in Business and Technology to strengthen those departments. Additionally, he founded the Business Club at RCC to support students in starting their own businesses. His entrepreneurial spirit extends beyond the classroom, as he has grown his own web design business and nonprofit. Jonathan is also giving back to his community by working with Spring Valley Mayor Alan M. Simon. With plans to transfer to a four-year university to continue his business studies, winning the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship would be a significant boost. The scholarship offers up to $55,000 per year to complete a bachelor’s degree. As one of only 459 semifinalists out of 1,600 applicants, Jonathan is honored to be considered and eagerly awaits the final results in late April to early May.

"Winning this scholarship would mean the world to me and my family," Jonathan said. "I am planning to move away and work while going to school to help pay for tuition. Having this opportunity would allow me to focus on my studies 100% and continue my passions and giving back to my community." Jonathan's journey from a struggling student to a college leader and scholarship semifinalist is a testament to the power of determination and the opportunities that community college can offer. His story is a shining example of how resilience and hard work can lead to remarkable achievements and inspire others to reach for their dreams.

About Rockland Community College, State University of New York

Rockland Community College (RCC), located in Suffern New York, provides purpose driven educational opportunities in a supportive, affordable, and accessible environment, empowering individuals to positively transform themselves and their communities. RCC welcomes students from diverse backgrounds who appreciate small class sizes and personal attention from a distinguished, award-winning faculty that includes Fulbright scholars and SUNY Distinguished Professors. Many graduates go on to top universities to further their education on their own or through RCC’s institutional collaborations. RCC fosters an environment that attracts, recruits, supports, and retains faculty, staff, and students who value diversity. The College promotes a collegial and inclusive environment by recognizing, promoting, embracing, respecting, and celebrating the expansive range and dimensions of cultures, attitudes, ideas, and viewpoints contained within our campus community.

RCC is also proud to provide career training and professional development to adult learners looking to change careers or upgrade their skills through a variety of programs and educational opportunities including workforce training, certifications, and micro credentials. Many of the programs are developed with employers in the community in high demand industry areas to enable graduates to move into a new career upon graduation. More information can be found at www.sunyrockland.edu.

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