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WCC alum Sharalyn Sentinella receives $75,000 graduate school scholarship

Post Date:02/07/2018 10:51 am

Sharalyn SentinellaWhatcom Community College (WCC) alum Sharalyn Sentinella was awarded a $75,000 graduate school scholarship by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Sharalyn graduated from WCC’s honors program in 2015 with her associate in arts and sciences.

While at Whatcom, Sharalyn built upon her strengths in creative writing and drawing, then immersed herself in the sciences and independent research projects. Interested in becoming a cancer treatment researcher at one point, she leveraged the resources at Whatcom that would get her there. She said numerous WCC faculty supported her and believed she could accomplish her ambitious academic goals. “I had never felt that I had the opportunity to be good at math, but the resources at WCC gave me that opportunity,” said Sharalyn. “With a strong foundation in math I was able to pursue science and undergraduate research…Both college and life have been challenging, but I learned determination and creative problem solving at WCC, which has been a strength and an asset moving forward.”

Sharalyn was the first in her family to attend college. She taught herself to learn HTML code at the age of 14 and dropped out of high school at age 16 to build websites for a small company. Eventually she moved to the Northwest and earned her GED from Whatcom. “I gained a lot of pride from my first interactions with WCC and when I later decided to enroll in college I trusted WCC would be a good place because of my previous experiences with the GED program,” said Sharalyn. 

She maintained a nearly perfect GPA and joined the College’s honor society. Before graduating, Sharalyn was awarded $40,000 per year by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to study at a university. She was also selected as that year’s student commencement speaker. Sharalyn has switched her course of study and is currently studying environmental studies at Western Washington University and applying to graduate schools to pursue international studies.  

“Sharalyn is an inspiration to all of us,” says WCC President Kathi Hiyane-Brown. “As a non-traditional student, she overcame personal challenges to achieve academic excellence. We are extremely proud of her achievements and grateful that she chose to begin her academic journey at Whatcom Community College.”

About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation: The Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the foundation has awarded $175 million in scholarships to more than 2,300 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The Cooke Graduate Scholarship is awarded to outstanding Cooke scholars and recent alumni to support them to complete graduate degrees at top institutions. Learn more at

About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College is a regionally and nationally accredited college with an accomplished faculty and staff who serve 11,000 students annually. The College works closely with industry to prepare graduates to excel in their fields and meet emerging business trends. On its campus in Bellingham, Wash., and through online courses, Whatcom offers a four-year bachelor of applied science, transfer and professional-technical degrees, as well as basic education, job skills training, and community education classes. For more information, visit

Contact: Marisa Ellis, Whatcom Community College PIO, 360.383.3310,

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