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Ashland Soroptimist club awards $13,000 to eight women, girls

As Soroptimist International celebrates 100 years of working to empower women and girls through education, the Ashland Soroptimist club will award eight local students with scholarships in recognition of their academic pursuits at a virtual awards luncheon May 19.

On June 12, the club will celebrate a 75-year presence in Ashland with a banner flying over Main Street and a ceremony at Garden Way Park.

The first-place recipient of the Live Your Dream award will receive $2,000 and second place will receive $1,000. The first-place winner will compete for larger awards at the regional level.

The Soroptimist International Live Your Dream program serves 21 countries and territories worldwide. A total of $2.8 million in education awards are granted to 1,700 women and girls every year to enhance opportunities in education and employment, according to the Soroptimist website.

The Vicki Smith award ($1,500) goes to two high school scholarship applicants recommended by teachers, and the Vocational Technical award ($1,000) will be granted to two high school students pursuing a trade in higher education.

A total of $2,000 grant-in-aid will be awarded to a Southern Oregon University student in the arts or sciences who will be a junior or senior next year. Two athletic awards of $1,500 each will be granted to SOU student athletes.

“They all have compelling stories, they have all overcome some sort of hardship, and because they are enrolled in school already, they show that they are working to provide a better life for themselves and their families through education,” Soroptimist International of Ashland President Jan Holland said. “Helping these women achieve their educational goals empowers their children as well — their families and communities.”

Winners of the Live Your Dream awards are selected by an impartial group composed of other Soroptimist group members in the Rogue Valley, Holland said.

Soroptimist International of Ashland previously sourced most funding for scholarship awards by renting pillows and blankets at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Elizabethan Theatre during show season, Holland said. This year, with OSF closed, the club turned to other fundraising strategies and donors stepped up with a strong response, she said in gratitude.

“The most empowering thing, especially for a woman in this period of history, is education,” Holland said. “That’s been shown throughout the world — you educate the women and the girls and the whole economic system is raised up in a community and a country.”

The application process for Live Your Dream scholarships begins annually in mid-August and ends Nov. 15. The application for 2022 scholarship awards can be found at www.soroptimistrv.org.

Contact Ashland Tidings reporter Allayana Darrow at adarrow@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497.