Success Story: Melvin Cooper III
Melvin says he’s always had a plan for what he wanted to do with his life. This fall, the Potomac native will enter his junior year at Broward College in Pompano Beach, Florida, working toward a Bachelor’s degree, and eventually a Master’s in Information Technology. He hopes to have a Master’s degree in three years. He earned his Associate’s degree this spring after achieving a 4.0 GPA for the semester, raising his overall GPA to 3.49.
His passion is Cyber Security. “The field allows me to make more money, and the job market is always increasing,” says Melvin. “I just wanted to do something that will always be there.” He is particularly proud of doing well in his coding class, which he says was “so hard” that more than half the people dropped out before the end of the semester.
Nineteen-year-old Melvin has certainly beaten the odds. Brought up by a single mother, he is the third oldest of four children. His mother and father were divorced when Melvin was in elementary school. He says his father has not been present in his life. Not many in his family graduated from high school, so it was an achievement for him when he graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac in 2016. He says his mother has always allowed him to make his own choices, but she always emphasized school as being the most important thing.
“My 84-year-old grandfather is an inspiration to me,” he says. “He’s worked his entire life. He started at a golf course as a caddy and carried three golf bags at the same time. A job in Cyber Security, which is not manual labor, would be much easier than his job. He loved his wife and took care of his family. It was super hard. He did everything he should.”
Melvin’s faith also plays a big part in his motivation to do well. He says the “degree is just the first part” of making a positive impact. In Potomac, Melvin used to volunteer at a recreation center working with and organizing activities for children ages 5-13.
Melvin received $1,000 in The Bernie scholarship money in 2018. It is his third Bernie Scholarship award. He covers the rest of his education by working part-time at the university.
The scholarship has had an enormous impact on him. It has allowed him to focus on his studies without the pressure of lacking money for books and tuition. He says earning the scholarships means “I was diligent enough to understand the value of excelling in my education. I want to someday be able to give back to the program and provide for students like me.”