Local students helped out as Soroptimist members gather in person after two years of virtual meetings
By Jennifer Sherman
Applause rang out and tears flowed freely at the Ashland Hills Hotel on Wednesday, May 18, during the 2022 Annual Recognition and Awards Luncheon hosted by the Soroptimists of Ashland. This annual event is a celebration recognizing the recipients of the Soroptimists’ five types of scholarships and awards each year. We were delighted to host this event in person after two years of canceled or virtual meetings, and we are thrilled to introduce our amazing 13 recipients.
Several of our winners are mothers, some serving as their children’s only parent. Several are the first in their family to graduate high school or attend college. We have recipients who are women of color or the daughter of immigrant parents. All of our awardees are exceptional women with drive, dedication, intelligence and talent.
The Soroptimists award three types of scholarships toward the college tuition of young women in the Rogue Valley. Three students from Ashland High School received a Vicki Smith Memorial Scholarship. Vicki was a Soroptimist in Ashland for almost 30 years, serving as president twice. She was active in everything Soroptimist, especially the scholarship program. The $1,500 scholarships were awarded to Kaia O-Neill, Estefani Reyes, and Anna Gutrich.
The second scholarships given are the VoTech Scholarships, awarded to students who show excellence in vocational and/or technical fields and want to pursue further skills and education in those fields. Olivia Schurr of Ashland High School and Izabelle “Izzy” Pair-Gilmore of Phoenix High School received these $1,000 scholarships.
The final scholarships given are in recognition of women in Southern Oregon University (SOU) athletics. Our 2022 recipients of this $1,500 award are cross-country and track athlete Haylee Brodahl, soccer player Malaika Quigley and volleyball player Katie Croman.
The Soroptimist club also offers monetary awards that can be applied by the recipients to anything they require, whether tuition and school or living expenses. The first of these awards is the Live Your Dream Award, the Soroptimist’s flagship program. Live Your Dream starts at the club level, with the recipient becoming eligible for additional Region and Federation-level awards. Live Your Dream Awards are given to women enrolled in higher education, who are the primary wage earner for their families, and who have overcome obstacles, showing their strength of conviction to improve their lives and the lives of their families through education. Our first-place winner is Sao Beasley, receiving $2,000. Our two second-place winners, receiving $1,500 each, are Jillian Mahon and Megan Monaghan.
The final award given each year is the Grant-in-Aid, a need-based award that honors SOU students who excel scholastically, contribute to the community, and have proven their drive-in achieving their career goals. Our 2022 first-place winner, Bernice Petit, receives $2,000, and our second-place winner, Nayeli Esqueda Alvarado, receives $1,500.
Soroptimist International of Ashland (SIA) spends a great deal of time fundraising, but it was the help from our community that allowed us to award as much as we did this year. SIA would like to thank the many donors toward these awards programs, especially in light of many financial hardships in the past years of the pandemic: Sally Jones and Ben Benjamin donated to the athletic scholarship; Kenneth Benton on behalf of the Mountain Meadows Community Foundation for Live Your Dream; Jennifer Smith, the daughter of the namesake for the Vicki Smith Scholarship; Jim and Dena Tree of Project A; and several anonymous donors have all helped make these awards possible. Thank you all for your commitment to the lives of women and girls in our community, and congratulations to the winners!
Soroptimist International of Ashland is part of Soroptimist International of the Americas, Inc., a global volunteer organization that provides resources and opportunities for women and girls to reach their full potential and live their dreams. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.