When Bitian Zhang came to Massachusetts from China three years ago, she threw herself into learning the language of her new country and acquiring an education. She earned a perfect 4.0 GPA at HCC, a remarkable accomplishment for one still learning English, and won the Alice Guimond History Award and James Z. Naurison Scholarship for academic achievement, awarded by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.
"As a foreign student, I haven't just had to study hard, but I'm also constantly working to improve my English," said Zhang. "I have received so much help from my professors and advisor at Holyoke Community College. They've encouraged me to take more challenging classes, and this has really been a benefit to me."
Adding to an already impressive list of accomplishments, Zhang is also among just 60 students nationwide to have been awarded the prestigious 2011 Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. The scholarships, valued at up to $30,000 per year for up to three years, are awarded to outstanding community college students who will be transferring to top-tier universities and colleges across the United States.
Zhang, who graduated with honors from HCC in May, will study psychology and women's issues at Amherst College. "I'm really looking forward to transferring to this competitive and stimulating environment. Having the JKC scholarship will make it possible to get the most out of my education there."
While earning her AA, Zhang held several part time jobs, including that of a tutor at HCC's Center for Academic Program Support, where she was awarded the Learning Assistance Center Award for Tutorial Excellence. Though it was Zhang's drive and effort that earned her every success, gratitude characterizes her outlook on all she has accomplished. She particularly credits her advisor, Irma Medina, with helping her succeed. "She has always been available to discuss any academic or administrative questions, and has done so much to encourage me to reach higher and achieve more. Without her, I would not have the opportunities that are before me today" said Zhang.