A 2020 graduate of Henderson High School, Zahia Cooper, was recently awarded the Dr. Johnnye Mae Jones Excellence in Science scholarship, whose purpose and foundation hit close to home. 

This scholarship was created to assist a student who demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and plans to attend an accredited college or university with a major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) with special consideration given to those who plan to pursue careers in Scientific research, Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, or other STEM-related careers. 

Cooper, an exemplary student and prime candidate for this special scholarship, was a member of the National Honor Society and the Key Club. She was voted the Student of the Month for November. 

She was a member of the Lionette Drill Team throughout her entire high school career, serving as “social officer” for one year. 

Cooper excelled in sports, as well. As a varsity powerlifter, she advanced to Regional competitions, medaling in every District meet, out lifting numerous “seasoned” powerlifters from across the state. As a sophomore powerlifter, Cooper advanced to the State Competition in Waco, where she competed against some of the strongest young ladies across Texas and went on to place 12th overall in the State. 

Cooper is currently attending TJC with plans to major in Nursing. After graduation from TJC, she expects to attend Prairie View A & M University, a historically black college.

The scholarship was set up in memory of Dr. Johnny Mae Jones, a Henderson native, who excelled in maths and sciences during her high school career and carried that level of excellence through to her studies at Prairie View A & M, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology and math, and onto Atlanta University where she received a Masters in the same and eventually a Doctorate in botany and mycology. She completed post-doctoral work in electron microscopy and cell biology at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, after which she spent three years at the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company studying biotechnology and plant molecular genetics.

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