In the community, Schools

Local nonprofit awards scholarship money

VALE — A mother of six with a lifelong dream of becoming a nurse and a handful of other local women received thousands in scholarship money from the local chapter of an international nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of women. 

P.E.O. Chapter K of Vale noted in a recent press release that the philanthropic association awarded just under $14,000 in scholarships money to six women attending college. The local chapter was established just over a century ago and has a membership of over 30 women. 

Rachel Johnson, 48, a mom of six from Vale, decided to return to school three years ago as her children started growing up and going off to school themselves. She was awarded a $1,500 scholarship. 

Johnson, a former dance teacher, spent two years at Treasure Valley Community College completing lower division courses before getting accepted into the college’s nursing program. 

Johnson has completed her first year of the two-year program at TVCC and is taking summer classes through Grand Canyon University to complete her bachelor’s degree in nursing. She plans to return to the community college in the fall to complete the program.  

Johnson once taught 10 dance classes at her dance studio with over 150 students. She said that and her large family made it challenging to find the time to return to school. As her children grew, her focus shifted to what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. 

“I decided it was time for me to go chase my dreams of becoming a nurse,” she said. 

Initially, she said, she had doubts about returning to school later in life and finding the time to put into her studies. However, she said her family became a significant source of support in shifting daily responsibilities at home to allow her the time for school.

Johnson, who earned an associate’s degree years before, said she was also initially intimidated going back to college later in life and not knowing how much had changed in education since she was in school. That anxiety, she said, later evolved into an insatiable curiosity and a deeper appreciation for learning. 

“I just love every day of getting to learn,” she said. “Even chemistry is exciting.” 

Johnson said she is grateful to P.E.O. for the scholarship. 

She said there are people who belong to the organization who are “sacrificing” to make scholarships available to people like herself and they have “big hearts.” 

“It just means so much to me,” Johnson said. 

Other scholarship winners:

•Maycee DeLong, won a $2,300 Oregon scholarship as she enters her second year Oregon State University studying finance

•Mandy Wolfe Paolo, studying to be a physician assistant at Oregon Health and Science University, earned a $4,100 state scholarship.

•Kailey McGourty, a sophomore at OSU earned $2,500 as she pursues a degree in nutritional health science and agricultural science.

•Madison Mulvaney, a second-year student at George Fox University in Newberg, won a $2,000 scholarship. Mulvaney is working on a degree in elementary education.

•Maddy Churchill, a recent graduate of Vale High School, earned a $1,500 scholarship and is headed to Western Oregon University for pre-nursing classes. 

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