By NICOLE HURBAN
Throughout our lives we aspire to do great things. We envision our success in whatever we dream to do or become. Unfortunately, the dream we hope to fulfill is not always achieved as planned. For young and adult women who find themselves in that predicament, the Soroptimist: Best for Women organization is ready and willing to make their educational dreams a reality.
Soroptimist is an international organization of professional, political, and business women who focus on raising funds and awareness of the issues connected to woman and girls who have been through human trafficking, and struggle with abuse of all kinds. The organization is located in about 120 countries/territories to date where almost 100,000 Soroptimist members contribute their time and financial aid to community based projects that aim to benefit the female community all over the globe.
On a smaller and more local scale, there is a chapter of Soroptimist named the Soroptimist International of Cumberland County. The local chapter, chartered in 1937, is lead by chair woman Donna Pearson, a sociology, cultural diversity, and social work course adjunct, who has been with the Soroptimist: Best for Woman organization for over ten years. Pearson, along with many other hard working female members of her chapter, raises money each year to make deserving women’s educational dreams come true.
The money collected throughout the year, will take the form of the Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Award (WOA) cash grant. The WOA, which began in 1972, is the major primary public service award that is given to accommodate women, girls, or both who are trying to improve their lives. The award can be used to offset the cost of books, other necessary educational materials, childcare, carfare, or any other education-related expense. To become eligible to receive the chapter’s award, the individual in question must either be enrolled in a college or vocational school that is part of Cumberland County. An application must also be filled out to have an opportunity to receive the award. A physical paper application can be found on campus in the financial aid or foundation offices, by contacting Pearson, or online at http://www.cumberlandsoroptimists.org free of charge.
After filling out the application, it must be accompanied by three references that support the need for aid and a personal statement or essay before it is handed in for review. Similar to other scholarships, the personal statement must include the reasons why the aid is necessary. These three components [application, references, and personal statement] allow the committee of women, choosing the recipient, to have information which supports the reasons why a particular individual deserves the cash grant. The applicants are graded by a point system and ranked by how they present themselves through the information they provide. The applicant with the most points wins the grant. The amount awarded to the recipient is never set in stone. The amount of money given to the individual that is chosen is based solely on how much the community chapter accumulates throughout the year.
After a winner is chosen by the committee, they will advance to Soroptimist North Atlantic Regional level, where one recipient will receive a cash grant. The entire program will culminate with finalists who will receive other cash awards.
The applications for the award must be fully completed with all of the necessary information and returned to Soroptimist International of Cumberland County by December 15, 2013.