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Posted: 5/5/2002

Rachel Breman, a student in the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing from Sharon, Mass., has been selected as one of the first 50 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholars, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced today.

The scholars, ages 19 to 50, receive up to $50,000 a year for up to six years to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field at an accredited university. Breman will receive her nursing degree in July and plans to further her studies at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is one of seven Johns Hopkins University students chosen for this inaugural award.

Breman, 27, speaks five languages, including French, Djerma, Spanish and Portuguese. By age15, she was an exchange student in Costa Rica. She later attended college in Seville, Spain, worked in Angola, and learned French and Djerma while she was with the Peace Corps in Niger.

Living in an isolated African village and learning the local language was one of her biggest challenges. After two months, she discovered Djerma was based on the mother/child relationship. Every tree and plant had the suffix "mother," and its fruits had "child" as its suffix. "This was not only a beautiful way to express one's self; the meaning behind it was powerful," she says.

Breman wants to add to her experiences with a two-year graduate studies program in public health at Johns Hopkins. She then plans to apply her knowledge toward maternal and child health issues. Her goal is to work in assessing, evaluating, and managing community health care programs, hopefully overseas, but perhaps among underserved populations in the United States.

Breman graduated from Brandeis University in 1996 with a degree in Spanish. She worked with Management Sciences for Health, where she served as a senior program assistant managing office issues between home and the field in Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Senegal. Breman then went to Emory University in Atlanta, where she helped a professor write a scholarly publication, “Managing Contraception.”

In October 1997, Breman traveled on behalf of the Peace Corps to Niger as a women's development agent, coordinating and managing programs and teams, including establishing a village bank that secured funding for the village. She then went to Angola as an interim program manager with Catholic Relief Services.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation identifies young people nationwide who have shown unique overall excellence, both in academic endeavors and in extracurricular activities. The purpose of the foundation is to reward young men and women for unusual intelligence, application, deportment, and character. The first class of recipients reflects a wide diversity of interests, all aiming to be the best in their fields.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation established by its namesake to help young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential. Cooke was a businessman, sportsman, and philanthropist who owned the Toronto Maple Leaf baseball club, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, and the Washington Redskins football team. He also owned the Chrysler Building in New York City, newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and cable television stations. When Cooke died in 1997, he left most of his fortune to the foundation, which has more than $500 million in assets.