Two Madison College Students Awarded Prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship

Madison College students Honorine Wendyam Ilboudo (right) and Todala Hayfa Kendrixe Mone were selected from more than 1,700 students from 448 community colleges nationwide to receive the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The highly competitive national program assists scholars in completing their undergraduate educations with as little debt as possible. The award, which is last dollar funding after all institutional aid, can be as much as $55,000 a year for three years of education.

As Madison College honors program students, Ilboudo and Mone have exemplified leadership and a deep commitment to learning. Both are international students and part of Leading Change – Africa, a program founded by Madison College alumnus Ousmane Kabré, which supports and provides educational opportunities to African students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and business.

They are also roommates and good friends, and together, they shared in the surprise and excitement of receiving the highly competitive and prestigious scholarship.

Madison College students Wendyam Ilboudo (right) and Todala Mone
Honorine Wendyam Ilboudo (right) and Todala Hayfa Kendrixe Mone

“I didn’t want to attach my value or worth to whether I received it, because it was a really competitive process, and I also believed I had done everything I could to get here,” Ilboudo says. “I also knew I had a pretty strong case. I told myself to just do it, apply, and see what happens. When I got the news, I was like, hey, it worked!”

While Mone is thrilled to receive the scholarship, she’s most proud of the hard work it took to put herself in a position to be successful. In high school, she worked to improve her academics so she could earn the Leading Change scholarship, which brought her to Madison College. And now, that work is reflected in the Cooke scholarship.

“I’m a good worker, I get good grades, and I have stories to tell,” Mone says. “And this is a big life lesson for me. No matter what it seems like, I can still persevere and try my best. I carry in my heart that hard work pays off, and even when you think nobody is watching or noticing, someone just might be.”

This past week, Ilboudo and Mone graduated from Madison College with honors, and now, as a Cooke scholars, they will receive comprehensive educational advising to guide them through the process of transitioning to their four-year colleges and preparing for their careers. They will additionally receive opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding, as well as connection to more than 3,000 Cooke scholars and alumni.

Ilboudo graduated with a liberal arts transfer associate degree in social sciences and will attend Williams College in Massachusetts this fall.

“I want to be a college professor, so I have to go all the way to the Ph.D.,” she says. “The research I’ve already been doing is on gender-based violence in Africa. I’m very passionate about it, and I have talked with my professors at Williams and plan to continue the next phase of my research there.”

Mone, who graduated with a liberal arts transfer associate degree in engineering, is deciding between UW-Madison and Stanford (she is awaiting her Stanford admission update.)

“I plan to go for electrical engineering, but I will also explore computer engineering as well,” Mone says. “I’ll explore both, but I will focus on what I enjoy too. I think it’s important to choose a career you are a good at but also like doing.”

Ilboudo and Mone are the only students from Wisconsin on this year’s recipient list. The Foundation evaluated each submission based on students’ academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, and leadership. View a list of the 2023 Cooke Transfer Scholars, including their community colleges.

“We are so proud of Wendyam and Todala, and they are both incredibly deserving of this scholarship,” says Stephanie Belmas, director of the college’s Center for International Education. “They are bright, committed, and insightful. It’s been an honor to watch them accomplish so much here at Madison College, and we look forward to seeing them continue their studies, work toward their career goals, and make a positive difference in this world.”

Learn more about the Center for International Education and scholarships available through Leading Change - Africa.