Student awarded Cooke scholarship

At the age of 17, Santa Monica College student Scott Pine suffered football injuries to the head so traumatic, his ability to talk, read and write was severely damaged.

Four years later, he is the recipient of the nation’s largest privately-funded scholarship of its kind.

Pine is the second SMC student in three years to win the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which this year awarded 73 community college students out of 769 candidates up to $30,000 to complete their bachelor's degree at a four-year university.

It took Pine six months to recover from his football injuries. During that time, he had trouble comprehending words on a page and talking was extremely difficult.

"It's definitely been a journey," said Pine. "At the time football was my identity; it was who I was. It was very painful physically, psychological, emotionally. Laying in bed, I realized football was not an option."

He then decided to take advantage of his education. Pine has since won a number of scholarships, including the Second Chance Foundation scholarship and the SMC Foundation President's Scholarship.

"When I found out [about the Cooke scholarship], I was completely surprised because I was waiting for a very long time," said Pine. "I initially felt mixed feelings of gratitude and relief because I worked so hard just to be nominated by the school."

As a psychology major, Pine has conducted original research in the field, as well as had an article published in a rookie newsletter for the Society for Psychological Services. Pine will be transferring to University of California, Los Angeles in the fall as a pre-psychology major. He is currently a volunteer intern at the UCLA psychology lab.

“I was happy but not surprised that Scott Pine was the recipient of the Jack Cooke Scholarship,” said SMC's President and Superintendent Chui L. Tsang in a press release.

Pine serves as one of Tsang’s 13 student ambassadors.

“He is extremely focused on getting an education and he is on a mission,” Tsang said.

Pine will also spend his summer in Washington D.C. as a Dale Ride intern at the American Psychological Association’s Public Interest and Government Relations Office.

"I would have never imagined that I would be here today, going to UCLA, doing everything I've done in my community," Pine said. "It's not something I wanted to do at the time. Suffering this injury really forced me to take a step back and reassess who I was, what I valued and what I wanted to do moving forward."