2019 Non-traditional Scholarship Winners

Congratulations and Best Wishes to all of our 2019 Scholarship Winners!

Six Sarasota County women were awarded scholarships of $3,000 each to further their post-high school education by the Venice branch of American Association of University Women (AAUW). The women were honored at a luncheon held Saturday, April 27, at the Venetian Golf and River Club in Venice.

The awards, known as non-traditional scholarships, are directed at women who have had to delay or interrupt their education and are returning to pursue a degree. “Family and financial concerns are typically why women must put their college plans on hold. We are pleased we are able to offer support to these candidates,” according to Susan Luterbach and Susanne Owen, who chaired the AAUW selection committee.

The scholarship winners are:

Rachel Ballard is attending State College of Florida to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing with plans to continue to a master’s degree. She reached her initial goal, an R.N. degree, this past February. She and her husband live in North Port with her two children and her father. She came to the United States from Trinidad when she was five years old.

Reesa Bland has an L.P.N. degree, obtained in 2014, but she plans to graduate from Galen College of Nursing in 2020 with an R.N. degree after completing a Bridge program. Her long-term goal is to be a psychiatric A.R.N.P (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner). She is the mother of three girls and lives in Sarasota.

Elizabeth Im is a certified nurse assistant (C.N.A.) at an assisted living facility and is also enrolled full-time in a degree program at Charlotte Technical College to complete requirements for an R.N. degree. She and her husband and their 18-month old daughter live in North Port.

Ngoc Pham attends classes at State College of Florida to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She is also working at two jobs to help support her mother and father. She emigrated with her family from Vietnam to the United States three years ago and lives in North Port. She is interested in care of the elderly, a key part of her Vietnamese culture.

Christine Pomerleau is attending Florida Atlantic University to complete a bachelor’s degree with plans to become a guidance counselor. She is employed at Venice High School as an attendance clerk. Her two children, a son and a daughter, are active in sports, primarily baseball and softball.

Laura Williamson is an L.P.N. and is enrolled at Galen School of Nursing to obtain her R.N. degree. She credits her mother for encouraging her to continue her education; her husband and three children are also very supportive. Long-term, she plans to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

The scholarships are funded through proceeds raised by an AAUW Home Tour held each February, and administered in a partnership with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Venice AAUW, with 250 members is the largest AAUW branch in Florida and one of the largest nationally. Its mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Monthly meetings are held from September through May on the second Thursday of the month at the Fellowship Hall of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Venice

AAUW membership is open to women who have completed an associate, bachelor or advanced degree. For more information, visit on the internet or on Facebook.