The 76 new recipients of the foundation's graduate and professional scholarships were chosen after a nationwide selection process that drew 1,290 nominees from more than 600 colleges and universities across the country, and announced July 20. Each scholarship is worth up to $300,000, which is among the largest scholarships offered in the United States.
Wyatt majored in English theory and criticism and minored in history at UNL. He earned Academic All-American honors in cross country and track and field and was a member of the Innocents Society. A Chancellor's Scholar, he graduated with highest distinction and from the University Honors Program in May 2003. Since then, he has been an admissions counselor in the Office of Admissions, working with incoming freshmen, developing recruiting strategies, attending college fairs, and visiting high schools in Omaha, north central Nebraska and Minneapolis-St. Paul. He also worked as a research assistant for news-editorial professor Joe Starita helping research Starita's book about the Standing Bear vs. Crook legal case.
Wyatt will begin graduate study at the University of Toronto this fall, where he plans to focus his work on indigenous and Plains literature.
Students attending any accredited college or university in the U.S. were eligible. Each institution could nominate up to two students. Candidates then underwent a rigorous assessment at two stages by independent panels of academic experts, including graduate school deans, admissions counselors, and faculty. The selection criteria included academic achievement and financial need as well as a will to succeed, leadership, and community involvement.
The Jack Kent Cooke awards are as prestigious and selective as the Truman, Marshall and Rhodes scholarships, but are worth more money, according to Laura Damuth, national fellowship adviser and undergraduate research coordinator in UNL's Office of Undergraduate Studies.
"In addition to the large amount of money, the scholarship is flexible and the student can take it to another institution if they choose to," Damuth said. "It's the last award offered in the scholarship calendar year and the application is reviewed after the student has applied and been accepted, and they know what their financial package is."
UNL also had a Jack Kent Cooke scholar selected last year, Thomas Oldham of Hastings.
Through the scholarships, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation aims to help highly motivated, highly driven individuals overcome one of the biggest challenges to their careers -- the cost of advanced professional or graduate training. The value and duration of each scholarship, which can total as much as $50,000 per year for up to six years, varies based on the cost of attendance or other grants each student receives.