Five years ago, Colin Schillinger ’22 began a journey, one that has taken him to Philadelphia and Greece, and connected him to students from throughout the United States. That journey has coincided with his time at Saint Ignatius High School, where he has been a four-year member of the Crew program, a National Merit Semifinalist, all while holding a job as a lifeguard at the John M. Coyne Rec Center in Brooklyn, Ohio.
Colin’s journey has been supported by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which he was accepted into as a seventh grader and is “dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need.”
In eighth grade, Colin began his participation in the Cooke Young Scholars Program. The summer heading into freshman year at Saint Ignatius, he spent three weeks at the University of Pennsylvania with the other scholars for a robust academic enrichment program.
“You were taking introductory courses,” he says. “I took stats and econ, so it was kind of cool. And then they want you to do a project with a group of students—kind of like a project on an issue that you wanted to look at.”
The summer after his freshman year, Colin traveled to Greece for another immersion and education program.
"That was pretty amazing because you got to go to the beaches as well, on the weekends,” he says. “We went to Athens, so I saw the Acropolis and everything. For me, that was a pretty formative experience.”
Throughout his participation in the Cook Scholars Program, Colin has built friendships with other high-achieving students from around the country.
“It’s been pretty amazing. We have our Instagram group chat and Snapchat, so we try to keep in touch,” he says. “Every once in a while we FaceTime, so it’s just a group of friends outside of your main group of friends. It’s a good support network because they’re all doing great things.”
Although the pandemic interrupted travel opportunities for the past two years, last summer Colin was able to take online courses about augmented and virtual reality through the University of Connecticut.
As he prepares to study finance at either Boston College or Case Western Reserve University, it will be with additional support from the foundation’s College Scholars Program. Colin is the only student from Ohio who was selected this year.
“They help you throughout high school, and they want you to eventually achieve the college scholarship,” he says.
Participants in the Cooke College Scholars Program receive up to $55,000 per year to attend an accredited four-year undergraduate school, personalized advising throughout the college process, and other opportunities—with the potential for graduate school assistance as well.
Colin’s stellar academic record speaks for itself, with a National Merit award, 11 AP courses, and juggling both a job and participation in a year-round sport like rowing. He credits the Cooke Foundation with enabling even his opportunity to enroll at Saint Ignatius High School.
“I probably wouldn’t have made it to Ignatius if it wasn’t for them,” he says. “I probably would have stayed at my public school. Giving me that opportunity initially opened up so many more doors for me.”
Looking forward, Colin says he is excited for the ways the foundation will help his young career thrive.
“It will really help with finding a job and getting those internship opportunities because, like Ignatius has its own network, [the foundation] also has it own network of scholars from all the years past that are doing great things now.”
It’s a network to which Colin most certainly will bring more excellent achievement.