Four STAR Scholarships Awarded

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Traditionally, stars represent the outstanding, the bright, the good, the positive. They symbolize noble and shining goals. Stars, as people, stand out from others; they leave a distinct mark in life and in society.

There are young stars on the rise in Blacksburg, Virginia! Four Blacksburg High School graduating seniors have each been awarded a $2,500 STAR Scholarship from the P.E.O. Sisterhood. Emi Miyazaki, Georgia-Kathryn Duncan, and Jacqueline Wang were recommended by Blacksburg P.E.O. Chapters AH, AU, and BP respectively. Marlee Van Mullekom was recommended by Abingdon Chapter BY. To have four students from a single high school out of only 600 recipients in all of the U.S. and Canada is truly extraordinary.

P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) has been “celebrating women helping women reach for the stars for more than 150 years.” Since its inception in 1869, and through its six philanthropies, this nonprofit organization has helped more than 116,000* women pursue educational goals by providing over $383 million* in grants, scholarships, awards and loans.

The STAR Scholarship is one of P.E.O.’s six projects. It was established in 2009 to provide scholarships for exceptional high school senior women to attend an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the U.S. or Canada in the next academic year. The competitive STAR Scholarship is for women who exhibit excellence in leadership, academics, extracurricular activities, community service, and potential for future success. Since its inception, over 5,500 graduating high school senior women have been awarded $14.9 million in STAR Scholarships.*

Emi Miyazaki

Emi, Georgia-Kathryn, Jacqueline, and Marlee are all graduating with 4.0+ GPA’s, many of their courses being Advanced Placement or Dual Enrollment. All four are members of numerous honor societies, have strong leadership skills, and are committed to community service. However, as similar as the breadth of their high school achievements may be, their passions and goals are as varied as the stars.

Emi will attend the University of Virginia as an Echols and College Science Scholar. She hopes to double major in Statistics and Public Health. Her ultimate goal is to work in the healthcare field because “there are so many factors that contribute to the public health of society.” She hopes to explore some of the intersecting disciplines such as environmental science and public policy. She already has extensive research experience in the fields of biomedicine, environmental science, computational biochemistry, and statistics. Career passions include helping the community through volunteer work, encouraging others to live a healthy lifestyle, and doing all that she can to improve the environment. She feels that her strength lies in her wide variety of interests and skills, from choir to running, research to math quiz bowl.

Georgia Kathryn Duncan

Georgia-Kathryn is headed for Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. She based her choice on that university’s independent nature, small class size, and community-service focus. Her goal is to obtain an undergraduate degree in Business Enterprise Management and to pursue a master’s degree with a emphasis in Supply Chain Management, competing in a 95% male-dominated field and serving as a role model for young women. She has her own business, Beads by Georgia, and she conducts all aspects of the business including production, quality control, market research and, promotion. She sees herself as comfortable “in her own skin” and at ease in communicating with people of all ages. Despite her youth, she feels that she is a very “academically-prepared, community-oriented, professionally-responsible, experienced leader.”

jacqueline wang
Jacqueline Wang

Jacqueline is Princeton-bound in the fall where she will major in mechanical engineering and pursue a minor in robotics and intelligent systems. Her passion is robotics and her experience ranges from participation on Montgomery County and New River Valley teams to mentorship for teams in Blacksburg and Pulaski, Virginia, and Burundi, Africa. She wants to combine her robotic knowledge/experience with her interest in botany to design smart farming technologies that will help increase agricultural production. She considers determination as one of her major strengths, stating that “whenever there is something challenging, I will always make sure to solve the issue.” Additionally, she sees herself as “adaptable and able to work with many people in many different settings.”

Marlee Van Mullekom

Marlee’s passion is music. She will attend the University of Georgia because of its excellent music program, its voice staff, its strong history in the music industry, and its study-abroad program in Italy. She wants to earn her undergraduate degree in Choral Music Education and eventually obtain a doctorate in Choral Conducting. She would like to pursue undergraduate research in music therapy, ethnomusicology, or historical musicology. She plans to encourage women in high-level choral conducting, a field that is currently dominated by men. She looks forward to being able to “teach teachers.” She sees herself as independent and dedicated, qualities that she attributes to her paternal grandmother. She notes that she has learned how temper her perfectionism and how to find a balance between work and play.

Emi, Georgia-Kathryn, Jackie, and Marlee are shining stars and this world is and will continue to be a better place because of them and what they have to offer. P.E.O. Chapters AH, AU, BP, and BY are proud to be able to help them reach for the stars.
*As of April, 2021