Efua Crenstil becomes fifth Schoolcraft student to win Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship
By Elaine Gerou
Tears of joy streamed down 2014 Schoolcraft graduate Efua Crenstil’s cheeks after she was pleasantly surprised with winning the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship during the morning on April 29. She is one of 90 Scholars from across the nation selected this year from a pool of 4,000 applicants from 700 community colleges. In the past four years, she is also the fifth student from Schoolcraft to ever win the prize. With this $40,000 award, Crenstil will no longer have to return to her hometown, Our Lady of Apostles Estate in Ghana, but can instead continue her education to become a nurse.
“This was my last resort. If I didn’t get this scholarship, I was going back to Ghana. I didn’t know what I would have done with my life, so this was a blessing,” Crenstil said.
Cresntil previously applied for the same scholarship last year and didn’t receive it, so she took a year off from classes to work at her part-time jobs at Starbucks and Schoolcraft in the Office of Operations, Curriculum, and Assessment. Through determination, a bit of luck and, according to her, the grace of God, Crenstil was able to attain the scholarship this year.
The 21-year- old Crenstil, who resides in South Lyon, has been living in Michigan since August 2011 after being awarded a scholarship from the United States Department of States. She was a part of a study exchange program that allowed her to complete her senior year of high school at South Lyon East High. After graduation, Crenstil decided to stay locally and pursue a college degree while continuing to live with her host family.
With this award, Crenstil is on her way to becoming a registered nurse where she will attend either Pennsylvania State University or Michigan State University. She hopes to earn additional degrees beyond her bachelors and plans to return to Ghana to use her acquired skills in the near future.
“We don’t really have a lot of medical personnel; we don’t have a lot of nurses. As a kid being taken care of by the nurses, it motivated me,” Crenstil said.
In 2012, Crenstil went back to Ghana to volunteer at a clinic.
“I was really touched because I felt like I made a difference in somebody’s life. There were about 300 people and only one nurse and one doctor,” Crenstil said.
She and her twin sister who resides in Ghana have dreams to build a hospital in her native land.
“She’s such a focused, compassionate and deserving, young woman,” said Laurie Kattuah-Snyder, the Schoolcraft Jack Kent Cooke Faculty Facilitator. “She’s impressed many faculty and staff at Schoolcraft.”
As a faculty facilitator, Kattuah-Snyder is responsible for promoting the scholarship, working with prospective students and submitting all required application material for Schoolcraft.
“I’ve only been promoting the scholarship since 2009, and since our first winner [Matthew Cornett 2011], we’ve had four more, with two winners in one year,” Kattuah-Snyder said. “It’s such a great feeling to know that money is being given to such deserving students who truly work harder than most to be where they are today.”
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation strives to advance the education of exceptionally promising students with financial need by offering the highest scholarships in the nation. Winners are chosen based upon academic achievement, financial need, grit, determination and social commitment. The 2015 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship awards up to $40,000 per year and is intended to cover a significant share of the student’s educational expenses-including tuition, living expenses, books and required fees.
“I’m still trying to believe that I got a scholarship because there were people who are hard working and smart. I also know I work hard. It didn’t come by easy for me,” Crenstil said. “Everybody deserves it who applies for it. I’m really grateful.”
The Schoolcraft community is proud of Crestil and Schoolcraft’s previous winners, and the college hopes to continue to educate winners.
“I’m looking forward to seeing future applicants because I want Schoolcraft to be the college in Michigan with the most Jack Kent Cooke winners (we’re tied with Henry Ford College),” Kattuah-Snyder said.
Regardless of who wins though, Schoolcraft is happy that scholarships such as this are helping those in need who will in turn put their education to good use for benefit of future generations.