For Kaming Leung, Harold Washington College’s 2021 Valedictorian, getting into the University of Michigan to study civil engineering was a dream come true – he was quite literally having dreams about it. The only piece left to figure out was the funding aspect – but good news followed shortly after his U-M acceptance. Kaming found out he was awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which will allow him to earn his bachelor’s degree tuition free.

While perhaps the most significant, the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship isn’t the first award Kaming has received throughout his college journey. With the support of his advisors and mentors at Harold Washington, he’s applied for and received several scholarships from both HWC and other organizations – enough to fully fund his associate degree.

Beyond the scholarships, Kaming has taken advantage of additional resources and support at HWC, including mentorship from Associate Dean of Instruction Asif Wilson and Professor LaNisha Thomas. After coming to the U.S. from Hong Kong three years ago, Kaming said he was shy and worried about the language barrier. Dean Wilson helped him step out of his comfort zone, teaching him how to network by sharing advice from his own personal experiences. Additionally, Professor Thomas boosted his confidence by encouraging him to take advantage of more opportunities and apply for competitive programs he previously thought were out of reach, including the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Kaming has put their advice to good use, joining the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Architecture Club, STEM Club, and One Million Degrees, a student mentorship program through which he served as a scholar ambassador. The network he’s built through those organizations even led him to a data analyst internship at Rippleshot, a technology company that builds software to detect, reduce, and stop fraud, where he’s looking for fraud patterns within data.

As he takes another step towards his future in the civil engineering field, Kaming wants to utilize the experience he’s gained at his internship by integrating data science into his career as a civil engineer. According to Kaming, that combination will help him stand out in the field and will allow him to introduce new and exciting projects that haven’t been accomplished before.

He knows it won’t be easy, but Kaming is looking forward to the academic challenges that lie ahead, crediting his professors and mentors at Harold Washington College with preparing him for both personal and professional success.

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