By Richy Huneycutt

Lenoir Community College student Mackenzie Rouse of Kinston knew as a child that she wanted to be a teacher. “I used to ‘teach’ my friends and stuffed animals. However, when I was in high school, I thought that I either wanted to be a high school teacher or pediatric nurse,” she said.

“I took all the health science courses, where I realized that was not what I wanted to do, and I went back to my childhood aspiration,” she said. “I wanted to be a teacher because of the wonderful teachers that I have had the privilege of having throughout my childhood and graduation,” she said.

A 2020 graduate of South Lenoir High School, Rouse is enrolled in the Associate in Arts in Teacher Preparation (AATP) and plans to transfer to East Carolina University this fall to complete her degree and become a high school English teacher.

She was recently selected as a semifinalist for the prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Rouse is one of four selected in North Carolina and one of 440 semifinalists chosen from more than 1,200 applicants attending 180 community colleges in 25 states. The Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship recipients will be announced by early May. Cooke Transfer Scholars are selected based on their exceptional academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, service, and leadership.

Through this award, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation supports high-achieving community college students with financial need seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees at selective four-year institutions.

When she found out she was a semifinalist, Rouse said she was “truly astounded. I lived with my grandpa for most of my life, so my parents were not teachers or people everyone knew, so I was truly shocked whenever I found out that I was a semifinalist. I am amazed that a “normal” person like me was even considered for such a prestigious award.”

An LCC Guarantee Scholarship recipient, she also received the Remarkable Futures Leadership Scholarship from Chick-fil-a when she worked there in 2020. Rouse said she decided to go to LCC because her counselors at South Lenoir High School advised her to apply due to the caliber of the education and the program’s affordability. “They also informed me of the possible scholarships, such as the LCC Guarantee, which was a tremendous factor in my applying.”

Rouse said that she would encourage others to pursue their dreams regardless of their family circumstances. “I want to be the teacher they have where they know they are loved and wanted while in my class. (I realize) not every student has this at home.”