Elon alum wins national scholarship

Jaclyn Marie Tordo, a 2008 graduate of Elon with a bachelor of arts degree with a major in human services, has received a premiere graduate scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to help fund her studies in law and social work at Washington University in St. Louis.

Jaclyn Marie Tordo ’08
Tordo, of Guilford, Conn., is one of 62 scholars selected for a graduate scholarship from among nominations submitted by colleges and universities across the United States. Recipients will receive as much as $50,000 per year for up to six years of graduate study, according to a foundation news release announcing the awards.

She plans to earn a law degree and a master’s of social work. Once completed, Tordo sees a future working in the juvenile justice system, advocating for children and their families, before eventually starting her own nonprofit dedicated to juvenile justice policy evaluation and reform.

“Being named a Jack Kent Cooke Fellowship recipient is a true honor and shows that my education at Elon University has prepared me to compete against the top students in the country,” Tordo said. “Receiving this fellowship will allow me to focus on my education while at Washington University in St. Louis and put my free time back into the St. Louis community.”

It took Tordo just three years to finish her studies at Elon. During her time on campus, she volunteered at Family Abuse Services of Alamance County and Tristan’s Quest Inc., a nonprofit that assists children with mental health disorders. She also volunteered with the Missouri Community Action Poverty Simulation and served as a mentor with Girls in Motion.

The workload never interfered with success in the classroom. Tordo graduated summa cum laude and made the President’s List or the Dean’s List each semester she was enrolled at Elon. She received the Al and Ruby West Human Services Scholarship in 2007 and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Pam Kiser, a professor of human services, served as Tordo’s academic advisor. Assistant professor Beth Warner acted as a research adviser.

“Our committee of external reviewers described these students as truly first rate,” said Matthew J. Quinn, executive director of the foundation, in a letter to Elon President Leo M. Lambert. “The Scholars demonstrated outstanding records of achievement, not only academically, but also in service, leadership, the arts and community involvement.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation was formed in 2000 in honor of its namesake, a self-made billionaire who left much of his fortune to establish a foundation that helps low-income students with “exceptional promise” reach their full potential, according to its Web site.

Cooke is perhaps best known for his one-time ownership of several major sports franchises, including the Washington Redskins in the NFL and the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team.