Seven Haywood Community College students recently received scholarships from the Philanthropic Educational Organization International (P.E.O.) BV Chapter. Melissa Carpenter, Misty Crain, Jennifer Davis, Melissa Engler, Naomi Ernst, Cheryl Fulbright, and Audrey Muldoon were the recipients of the P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education scholarship. The amount awarded to these students totaled over $12,000.

Naomi Ernst worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant for 13 years before moving to North Carolina. She decided to return to school to become a Registered Nurse. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to go back to college,” she explains. “And receiving this scholarship makes it easier financially. It’s easier to attain your goal when you have someone who believes in you. For me, it’s also a motivating factor.”

Cheryl Fulbright, Office Systems Technology-Legal student, has always worked in the legal field. She was a correctional officer at the Black Mountain Correctional Center for Women and a detention officer at the Haywood County Jail. Stress from working in the jails made the decision to come back to school an easy one. After graduation, Fulbright would like to work in a lawyer’s office or the district attorney’s office. “Coming back to school was the best decision I have ever made,” Fulbright says. “I have not regretted it.”

Audrey Muldoon, Professional Crafts‑Jewelry student, has been making jewelry for a while but wanted to add metalsmithing to her knowledge. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Art from Rollins College in Orlando. “The Professional Crafts Department is a very creative, inspiring environment,” she says. “It’s intensive and the business classes I’m receiving are an added bonus.”

Melissa Carpenter, Misty Crain, Jennifer Davis, and Melissa Engler were unable to attend the scholarship presentation.

The P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education scholarship was established in 1973 to provide need-based grants to women in the US and Canada whose education has been interrupted and who find it necessary to return to school to support themselves and/or their families. This project has paid more than $30 million in small grants to women.

The P.E.O. is a philanthropic educational organization that is one of the pioneer societies for women. It was founded in 1869 by seven students at Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Today, the P.E.O. has grown to almost a quarter of a million members in chapters in the US and Canada. Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, its mission is to promote educational opportunities for women. The organization strives to be a source of encouragement and support for women to realize their potential in whatever worthwhile endeavor they choose.