Wilton students awarded scholarships from Philanthropic Educational Organization

All three P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) 2020 academic candidates of chapter W, in Wilton, were recently awarded with scholarships.

“It is very rare that so many (awards) would come from one chapter!” Sharon Thawley, the president of the chapter, said.

The chapter’s first recipient was former Wilton resident Grace Williams, who was awarded an ELF (Educational Loan Fund) Loan. These loans are awarded with extremely low interest.

Williams grew up in Wilton heavily involved in community service. Leaving Connecticut, Williams attended Wellesley College on the pre-medical track, graduating cum laude in 2016.

For four years Williams was a research assistant at the Boston VA (Veteran Affairs) Hospital working on a national pulmonary health study, looking at the impact of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan on the respiratory health of veterans.

Currently, she is pursuing a graduate science degree at the Tufts University School of Medicine, with a focus on Biomedical Sciences. Williams eventually hopes to attend medical school and become a cardiologist.

The chapter’s second recipient, Piper Chase, won the STAR Scholarship of $2,500. During the coronavirus pandemic, Chase, and a friend formed Warriors Helping Hands.

They delivered groceries, household supplies and medications to those in need in Wilton. It was a free service offered to homebound residents and senior citizens. Additionally, as the President of the UNICEF (United Nations Emergency Fund) club at Wilton High School during the pandemic, Chase was able to direct funds raised by the club to children in developing countries.

Chase overcame an eating disorder when she was in her early teens. Once Chase worked her way through the disease, she became a volunteer with the National Eating Disorder Association. Chase educated and helped prevent other teens from developing eating disorders.

Wilton High School has recognized Chase’s academic excellence and leadership by being awarded the Tulane Book Award. Chase is also a member of the National Honor Society (NHS). She tutors WHS students in Algebra, and Geometry as a member of the Links Club. Piper is joining the 2025 class at Middlebury College.

Sarah Atkinson was already a teacher in Texas and California minority communities and her teachings were rooted in the movement for education justice. Atkinson saw her role as a responsive partner with her students who all had unique backgrounds, strengths, needs and dreams.

Atkinson discovered that successful teachers work on multiple teams with student families, fellow teachers, administrators and communities.

Atkinson holds three graduate degrees in Italian literature and is pursuing a Ph. D. candidacy of Italian Studies at Yale.

Atkinson speaks five languages and reads a sixth. During her first encounter with graduate school a professor told her that writing well was an innate talent and could not be learned.

Through her own experience teaching at Teach for America Corps, she knew that to be false and completed the graduate degree at Yale where she found a humanities-centered environment. Now in her fifth year, Atkinson is thriving at Yale in the community oriented setting where theory practice, and civic engagement are interlaced.

As Atkinson conducts research, writes her dissertation, designs and teaches a range of literature, film, and language studies, she strives to find better ways to communicate with a variety of audiences. Atkinson hopes to lead a department and train new graduate students. Atkinson will champion a commitment to sharing questions, finding and reflections, while pursuing meaningful line of inquiry that represent the lived realities and true concerns of our complex sociates.

P.E.O. has been celebrating women helping women reach for the stars for more than 150 years. Since its inception in 1869, the non profit organization has helped more than 116,000* women pursue educational goals by providing over $383 million* in grants, scholarships, awards and loans.

The sisterhood also owns, and supports Cottey College. Through membership, the P.E.O. Sisterhood has brought together more than a half a million women in the U.S., and Canada, who are passionate about helping women advance through education, while supporting and motivating them. In addition to the educational philanthropies, the P.E.O. Sisterhood provides a framework of support, and community for all members.

What previously started with a bond of friendship among seven women in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, is now one of the oldest women’s organizations in North America with close to 6,000 chapters.

Visit peointernational.org to learn more about the non-profit organization, its educational philanthropies, and see stories of women who have benefited from the programs.