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Four Kaua‘i women receive PEO grants to continue education

LIHU‘E — Brittany Vilpe of Waimea was searching for scholarships to assist in pursuing her master’s degree when she came across one offered by a new organization on Kaua‘i.

Philanthropic Education Organization, or PEO, formed a chapter on Kaua‘i in August of last year, joining 11 others in the state and over 6,000 nationwide, according to a release.

The organization, which advocates for women’s education, offers a continuing-education grant, and last month four women, including Vilpe, received one, totaling nearly $11,000 in all.

“The PCE grants are need-based, and for women whose education had been interrupted for at least 24 months and it was necessary to return to school to support themselves and/or their families,” PEO member Sue Carlson said.

Carlson interviewed all four selected women, who wrote scholarship applications detailing the goals they plan to achieve.

Vilpe’s dream is to open up a Montesorri preschool to educate young children on the values of farming. Finding this scholarship, she said, will help her to make this a reality on Kaua‘i.

Two other students are at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa’s College of Education, with one pursuing a master’s degree in special education and the other working toward a post-baccalaureate certification in special education.

Another awardee, Amberly Pigao, is enrolled at UH-Hilo in the master’s program, studying conservation biology and environmental sciences.

“The financial part is definitely a hardship, so to be able to have help with that allows me to register for classes, be able to get the education I need to pursue my goals,” Pigao said.

She wanted to continue her education with a master’s degree so she’d be able to step into a supervisory role within her field.

“I decided to go back to school so that I could be in the position that allows me to work with our resources,” she said. “Being born and raised on the islands (is an advantage) when deciding what to do with our resources.”

Pigao lives in Hilo now to go to school, but grew up in Kapa‘a. She spends some of her time volunteering and giving presentations at local schools to teach kids that forestry careers are within reach.

“My main goal is to better our Kaua‘i community or any island in Hawai‘i,” she said. “I want to bring up our keiki and our community.”
Source: The Garden Island

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