Berkshire BPW Names Scholarship Recipients: $21,000 Awarded to 22 Local Women

Berkshire Business & Professional Women (BBPW), the region’s long-standing organization for working women, announced the recipients of its 2020 scholarships at its October meeting. Thanks to our donors and sponsors, twenty-two local women are receiving a total of $21,000 to help them attain their higher education goals.

“I never, ever thought I could go back to school, as a single mom with three kids,” said Billie Jo George, an oncology nurse at Berkshire Medical Center and one of this year’s recipients.

The women hail from seven different communities, including Adams, Dalton, Great Barrington and Pittsfield. Some are going to college for the first time, others are returning after time off, while still others are furthering their careers by adding a Master’s degree to their credentials. Many are combining jobs and parenting with college, including a number of single mothers.

“We are thrilled to be supporting so many impressive local women as they pursue their college dreams,” said Kalee Carmel, who takes over as BBPW President this month from Celia Clancy.

BBPW Scholarship Committee Chair June Roy-Martin noted that both the number of recipients and the total amount awarded this year have increased substantially over last year, despite the pandemic. This year, awardees also included recipients who were unemployed due to Covid-19.

Scholarships are funded primarily through the annual gala that celebrates the BBPW’s Woman of Achievement Award. This year’s Woman of Achievement is Andrea Harrington, the county’s first woman District Attorney, but the pandemic forced the postponement of the gala in May, casting uncertainty over the scholarship program. Instead, Harrington’s achievement was feted with a hybrid event in September that achieved its $28,000 fundraising goal. Learn more about the scholarship program here: https://berkshirebpw.org/programs/scholarship/

Following are this year’s scholarship awardees, along with their college and course of study:

Stella Asamoah, Berkshire Community College, Pre-Nursing
Cassandra Bercier, Maria College of Albany, Nursing
Monica Bliss, Berkshire Community College, Theater/Music
Emily Boino, Berkshire Community College, Nursing
Brooke Bridges, UMass Amherst, Developmental Psychology/Behavioral Neuroscience
Toni Buckley, Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, Management of Nonprofits and Cultural Organizations
Billie Jo George, Elms College, Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
Holly Hunter, Elms College, Early Childhood Education
Viviane Komenda-Scherer, Berkshire Community College, Associate’s Degree in Nursing
Michelle Levesque, Berkshire Community College, Health Care Management
Rhodalyn MacQuaye, BayPath University, Nursing
Lindsay McCarthy, Berkshire Community College, Mechanical Engineering
Sonya Purvis, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Master’s Degree in Human Factors
Stephanie Quetti, Westfield State University, Master’s Degree in Social Work
Karen Ruiz Leon, UMass Amherst, Master’s Degree in Social Justice Education
Cansas Scutt, Berkshire Community College, Social Work
Alicia Starsja, Elms College, Social Work
Chelsea Taylor, Berkshire Community College, Education
Heather Thompson, Westfield State University, Vocational Education
Jessica Twing, Elms College, Social Work
Soncere Williams, Elms College, Social Work
Jacqueline Ziemek, MCLA, K-12 Administration

The BBPW is a membership organization open to all women in the Berkshire region. Annual dues are $40. Please visit https://berkshirebpw.org/membership/join-now/ for more information.

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