ECC student Hayashi reaches scholarship semifinal

Kennedy Hayashi (Courtesy photo)

By Brett Callwood

Kennedy Hayashi is a second year student at El Camino College, and she plans to attend UCLA in the next academic year, with Pre Statistics and Data Science as her major. Hayashi has been named one of the semifinalists for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which could be worth up to $55,000 per school year. Kennedy told the News about the scholarship, and herself…

Tell us a little bit about you. What are your interests,  and your areas of study?

My name is Kennedy Hayashi and I am a second year student at El Camino College. Next academic year I plan to attend UCLA with Pre Statistics and Data Science as my academic major. A hobby that I invest a lot of my time in is dance. I believe that dance has the ability to overcome the boundaries of words by speaking across languages and cultures through movement. I am also a part of multiple organizations, both on and off campus. At El Camino College’s Student government, Associated Students Organization I serve as the Director of Finance. On the statewide level, I continue my efforts as a student advocate and serve on the Student Senate for California Community Colleges(SSCCC). In SSCCC, I am the Vice President of Finance, representing over two million students and 116 California community colleges. 

What can you tell us about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship? Who is it for, and how do you get it?

The Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship is for community college students who have a goal in transferring to a four year institution. They hope to levitate student debt by paying upwards to $55,000 per year for the student to complete a bachelor’s degree. I had applied earlier this year to this scholarship program and have luckily been selected as one of the few semi-finalists. 

How did you reach the semi finals? What did you do to get to that stage?

From my initial submission of my application in January, I had been selected in the semi-finals. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation says they look for academically achieving, leadership, and experiences that come from diverse cultures. Luckily through my application I was able to showcase my dedication to my education and be selected.

When is the finals deadline?

The final decision is set to come out in May! At this point there is nothing else I can do to increase my chances other than get my name out there and hope for the best.

You said that you want to “serve as a beacon of hope for those rejected” — what do you mean by that?

There’s often a mindset that if something is more accessible, its quality must be lower.  Therefore, students feel shame and guilt following graduating high school for attending community college instead of a four year institution. This thought is rooted from the destructive misconception that community college isn’t a “real” college. But I’ve always believed that life is only as good as your mindset. My message behind wanting to serve as a beacon for hope is to all the other potential community college students or high schoolers who are thinking of entering community college that non traditional pathways to your education can actually redirect you in the best ways. Right out of high school, I would have never thought I would become a UCLA Bruin but two years later, I have just opened my acceptance letter and couldn’t have wished for a better college life.

What are the next steps?

My near future consists of finishing my community college journey at El Camino College by receiving my associates degree. Following that, I will be looking into my next steps in higher education at UCLA. From financial aid, housing, and classes, I will need to prepare myself for the next few years to come. With all of these new chapters opening in my life, I need to remind myself to take things day by day and enjoy the rest of my time as a “warrior” (El Camino College mascot).

To learn more about the scholarship, visit