Frostburg State University senior Roger Skipper of Oakland, Md., a 50-year-old Navy veteran and grandfather who put two children and his wife through college before pursuing his own education, is among the first group of students to be awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarship.
Skipper will pursue a Master in Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing through a non-residential program at Vermont College in Montpelier, Vt. He will graduate summa cum laude from FSU on May 25 with a bachelor of arts degree in English with a focus on creative writing. He also received departmental honors in English.
Skipper is one of 50 men and women ages 19 to 50, who represent the "first class" of Cooke Foundation scholars. Each will receive up to $50,000 a year for up to six years to pursue graduate studies at an accredited university. The scholars were selected from a group of 675 applicants. Applicants had to be a college senior and a resident of, attending college or university in or planning to attend graduate school in Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia. A group of academic advisors from across the country assisted the Foundation in the selection process.
The late Jack Kent Cooke, who built a media empire and owned the Washington Redskins football team and the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, was unable to go to college in the midst of the Depression. He set aside the bulk of his estate to create a foundation dedicated to education.
Skipper, who was an executive with Beachy Lumber before he returned to college, has written one novel and has a second in the works. He also builds and plays musical instruments. Since 1990, he has dedicated most of his summers to helping build buildings and furniture in Sucre, Bolivia, primarily for a children 's home. The project allows the children to live in a large, family-style home rather than in an institutional setting.
Growing up in Garrett County, Skipper's earliest recollections were visiting the public library with his father, who, though he left school to go to work in the seventh grade, "is one of the best-read people I know," Roger Skipper says.
With his writing, Skipper wants to capture the Appalachia that he knows. "I want to write about the strange and wonderful things that have happened to me - like this," he said at the announcement ceremony for the Cooke scholarships.
For more information about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, visit the Web site at www.jackkentcookefoundation.org. For more information about FSU, call the Admissions Department at (301) 687-4201.
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