Kristen Cardinal Share's her experience with P.E.O.

As a graduate student at the University of Arizona, working on my PhD in Biomedical Engineering, I heard about the “P.E.O. Scholar Award” through an email from our graduate program. I had not heard of P.E.O. before, but it was a group that supported education for women, and I was eligible for the funding, so I applied. I was selected for a phone interview and ultimately was sponsored by a P.E.O. chapter from Yuma, AZ. I ended up being selected for one of the national awards, which came with a very generous $10,000. This funding supported many of the expenses associated with my graduate education – from purchasing textbooks to traveling for conferences – and helped alleviate many of the financial pressures that come with being a graduate student.

In addition to the monetary support of the P.E.O. Scholar Award, I also stayed in close contact with the wonderful women from the Yuma chapter that had sponsored me. They supported me in many ways throughout my education, sending cards and cheering me on, and allowing me to get to know their organization. I was invited to give programs and talks at several of their meetings and at the state convention, and this really introduced me to the mission and impact of P.E.O..

When my graduate work was coming to a close, and it was time to make a career decision, accepting a faculty position in the new Biomedical Engineering department at Cal Poly was an easy choice. I grew up in Nipomo, so I knew how wonderful the area was, and I was excited to be able to teach and do research with the top-notch engineering students that choose to come to school here. So, I said goodbye to Arizona (and the wonderful women of the Yuma P.E.O. group) and moved back to the central coast. Shortly after beginning my faculty career, I was contacted by several women in the San Luis Obispo P.E.O. chapter. After all of the wonderful interactions I had with P.E.O. in Arizona, and based on my first-hand experience with how helpful and supportive P.E.O. is of education for women, it was an easy decision to join the local chapter.

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