Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholar Chooses Mercer

Steven Hussung has had an interest in service from a young age. In addition to being an active member of his church’s outreach programs, Hussung and his family work with a nonprofit called Canine Companions for Independence to raise service dogs. The Hussungs keep the dogs for 18 months before they are sent for advanced training. A particularly moving experience for Hussung was the opportunity to hand over the leash of a trained dog to an autistic boy his age. On that day, Hussung said that he felt extreme pride making such an impact in someone’s life. It is that commitment to service that brought Hussung to Mercer.

Hussung is one of only 39 students chosen from across the country to receive the Jack Kent Cook Scholarship, a scholarship funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to assist extraordinary high school students with college tuition. Hussung is the first recipient of the scholarship to attend Mercer as an undergraduate. William J. Rivers III, is a fourth-year medical student at Mercer and is also a foundation scholar.

Hussung hopes to use his math and computer skills to pursue a career in engineering. Other scholars chose to attend schools such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale, but Mercer was a particular draw for Hussung.

“When I was first looking at schools, Mercer got on my list simply because it was a small school that had both a liberal arts college and an engineering school but, as I learned more about it, I realized that it had solid academics and a strong commitment to community service,” he said.

As the date for choosing a school grew closer, he found that Mercer was the best match for him. It was a good size, had the right programs and, from what he gathered during his visits to campus, was home to friendly people. Now, Hussung couldn’t be happier with his decision.

“I like Mercer a little more each day,” he said.

Hussung was selected for the Cooke Foundation’s Young Scholars program when he was in eighth grade. He and his two brothers were homeschooled by his mother for 12 years while his father worked two jobs to support the family. The Scholarship pays his way at Mercer, and if he does well enough at Mercer, it will pay his way through graduate school as well.

Launched in 2000, the Jack Kent Cook Foundation is a private, independent foundation established to help talented students receive an education to assist them in reaching their full potential. The Foundation concentrates mainly on students with financial need. Through scholarships and direct service programs, the Foundation assists in educating approximately 650 students each year. Last year, the Foundation awarded 683 scholarships totaling $11.9 million.

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