Two Haywood Community College students recently received scholarships from the Philanthropic Educational Organization International (P.E.O.) AW Chapter. Mary Ferguson, Horticulture Technology student and Misty Justice, Early Childhood Teacher Associate student were the recipients of the P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education scholarship.

After becoming divorced, Ferguson realized it was time to do something for herself. She has always enjoyed working outside with plants so the Horticulture program seemed like a natural fit. Upon graduation, she would like to open her own nursery with evergreens and hollies or work in landscape design. In addition to working part time at Home Depot, she also works part time with HCC’s Grounds Maintenance team.

“My kids are very impressed that mom came back to school,” Ferguson says. “But I would not have been able to accomplish all I have without the scholarships I’ve received. I am so appreciative.”

Justice had been a stay-at-home mom when she decided to return to school. She would like to continue her education and become a teacher. She is currently a substitute teacher at Waynesville Middle School. “I enjoy helping kids,” she says. “They can brighten your life as much as you can brighten theirs.”

This 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.