With an eye on furthering their higher education goals, nearly two-dozen women are receiving a well-deserved financial boost.

According to a media release from the Berkshire Business & Professional Women, the region’s long-standing organization for working women, the organization 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 ~ Billie Jo George, an oncology nurse at Berkshire Medical Center and one of this year’s recipients.


The women that are receiving the scholarship money come from seven different communities, including Adams, Dalton, Great Barrington, and Pittsfield. Some are going to college for the first time, some are returning after time off, and others are furthering their careers by adding a Master’s Degree to their credentials. Many of these women also 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 ~ Kalee Carmel, who takes over as BBPW President this month from Celia Clancy.


BBPW Scholarship Committee Chair June Roy-Martin says 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.

You can learn more about the scholarship program here: https://berkshirebpw.org/programs/scholarship/

Here 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 Berkshire Business & Professional Women is a membership organization open to all women in the Berkshire region. You can find out more here: https://berkshirebpw.org/membership/join-now/

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