Widow. Parental caretaker. Displaced worker trying to earn a college degree to improve her value in the workplace.
If anyone needed a helping hand to pursue an education, it was Barbara “Lugene” Bearden.
Bearden is a student at Pellissippi State Community College, and her need—and efforts to do well in school—did not go unnoticed by the Pellissippi State Foundation and the Knoxville Chapter of the Executive Women International. The two entities partner each year to distribute $3,000 in scholarships to deserving candidates.
Bearden was recently recognized by the EWI local chapter with an ASIST (Adult Students in Scholastic Transition) Scholarship. The support was awarded by the Pellissippi State Foundation.
The mother of two grown children, Bearden is one of three students at Pellissippi State who each received a $1,000 scholarship from EWI Knoxville Chapter this year. She has since been named one of the 12 winners of a national EWI scholarship for $2,000.
The ASIST scholarship is available to adults facing economic, social or physical challenges who are looking to improve their situation through educational opportunities.
“The Pellissippi State Foundation is proud to partner with Executive Women International to provide scholarship opportunities to women who are working to better their lives by going back to school,” said Peggy Wilson. Wilson is the college’s vice president of College Advancement and executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation.
“We like to recognize these women’s hard work as they pursue opportunities to improve their lives.”
Bearden was born and raised in Knoxville. She has been a widow for 10 years. After she lost her job due to downsizing, she cared for her mother, who passed away in 2011. Bearden is now studying Business Administration, concentrating in Management, at Pellissippi State and maintains a 3.65 GPA.
“While searching for a new job, I found that all the companies hiring for the position I knew how to perform required a minimum of an associate’s degree with work experience,” she said. “At age 54 and as a widow, I could not afford to start back to work at minimum wage and work my way back up.
“I need and want to find employment with a company where I will be of service, and where I will be well compensated for my expertise. With more than 25 years of working as an administrative assistant, along with my education from Pellissippi State, I feel confident that I will make a top-notch manager in any office.”
EWI Knoxville Chapter also awarded $1,000 scholarships to Pellissippi State students Leslie Ferrer and Riitta-Maija Lehtinen.
Ferrer is a native of Indiana and has three adult children with her husband, Jeff. She is pursuing Spanish and maintains a 3.8 GPA. Lehtinen immigrated to the United States from Finland and is majoring in Interior Design Technology. She maintains a 4.0 GPA.
For more information about the Pellissippi State Foundation and its many giving opportunities, visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call (865) 694-6528.