Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Community Builders

Community Builders: Women move forward with PEO scholarships

  • Updated

One of the joys of philanthropy is the joy in the giving process. During this season of giving, we wanted to share the story of a growing scholarship program in our P.E.O. chapter.

P.E.O. is a Philanthropic Education Organization that focuses on the education of women, providing scholarships, grants and loans. We are Chapter XM in the Napa community.

Last year, Chapter XM provided support for high school seniors about to enter college, returning college students, college graduates seeking a graduate degrees and women making career changes that require additional education. 2020 was a busy year for us and in spite of COVID-19, we actively engaged with women in and outside our community to help them reach their educational goals.

Michelle “Angie” Ruiz received a grant from the P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education to cover her tuition and books at NVC this fall. Chapter XM proudly sponsored her after becoming acquainted on Zoom.

COVID has presented some challenges but we are embracing the changes needed to continue our work. This particular grant is ideal for women who have been out of school for a few years and want to further their education for a specific purpose.

It seemed tailor-made for Angie who had several teaching jobs over 20 years. Angie wanted to focus on her husband’s Napa Valley Window Cleaners business. Because she was interested in doing the books for the business, she wanted to pursue an accounting degree.

Angie found us through the P.E.O., website, and our XM chapter was able to sponsor her for the PCE grant from our international chapter. Due to COVID, most of Angie’s classes are online or Zoom. As Angie prepares for this next chapter in her life, we know she will be successful.

Anna Ghisletta was the PEO Chapter XM recipient of the Star Award for her excellence in leadership, academics, community service and extracurricular activities.

Because of the pandemic Anna is attending NVC with her ultimate goal of transferring to San Diego State University to study nursing. While in high school, Anna participated in the Soles for Souls in Guatemala, which visits impoverished communities. It inspired her to plan to do this trip again and also to continue participating in other programs in impoverished countries as a nurse.

Valentina Blanco Hormaechea was the recipient of the International Peace Scholarship (IPS). This fund was established in 1949 to provide scholarships for international women students seeking graduate study in the United States and Canada. Valentina is from Salta, Argentina, and we enjoyed getting to know her during her studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey.

She received her master’s degree in May, with a focus on the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. She is particularly interested in counterterrorism policies and the intersection between security and human rights. Valentina returned to Argentina at the completion of her program with the goal of working with refugees.

Several years ago, Chapter XM established its own, locally managed scholarship program funded through XM chapter donations. Additionally, Pat Caspersen, a long time member and one time president of the chapter funded an endowed scholarship through the P.E.O. Foundation. When Pat died, our chapter began managing her scholarship. This fall we were able to award seven scholarships through these two sources These deserving young women have diverse backgrounds and educational plans, but the common thread of commendable preparation and lofty goals inspired the XM Scholarship Committee.

Mariana Diaz is a graduate of New Tech High School and will attend Napa Valley College, pursuing her plans to become an elementary school teacher.

Madeline Larson, a graduate of Napa High School, is attending the University of Tennesse. Her goal is to attend medical school and become a forensic medical examiner.

Taya Madsen, a graduate of Justin-Sienna High School, is attending Sonoma State with a goal of environmental science and inspire others to take care of the environment and diminish the effects of global waming.

Ingrid Mazariegos, first graduated from St. Helena High School, then completed her studies at Napa Valley College. She is now attending San Francisco State with a goal to become a dietitian and conduct research in nutrition science.

Jacqueline Saldana-Pimental graduated from Justin-Sienna before enrolling at Sonoma State where she is a sophomore this year. With a double major in Sociology and Spanish, she is preparing for a career as a bi-lingual counselor serving low-income residents in the Napa area.

Grace Wahle also graduated from Justin-Sienna and is now attending the University of Tennessee majoring in therapeutic recreation with a minor in Child and Family Studies. Grace plans to work professionally to improve the lives of disable members of our society.

Mara Zuidema graduated from Napa High School and is attending San Diego State University majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Applicants for XM Scholarships must be residents of Napa or Solano Countiy. For more information about these scholarships, please send an email to


Here's What People Googled the Most in 2020 . Google released its annual 'Year in Search' list on Dec. 9. . The top 10 searches included coronavirus-related queries, election results, Zoom, . Kobe Bryant, India vs New Zealand, Joe Biden and Google Classroom. Tops searches in a number of categories, such as news, loss, athletes, actors, games, recipes, lyrics and more were included. Phrases with the word "why," such as "why is toilet paper sold out?," were searched more than any year before. . People also increasingly searched "how to help" amid the chaos of 2020, . seeking ways to help the Black Lives Matter movement, donate blood/plasma and more. Ways to stay entertained also topped trending search lists. Such searches included "drive in movie theater near me," "how to cut men's hair at home" and "virtual EDC rave."

Catch up on Napa County's top news stories of 2020

In case you missed it, here is a look at the top stories of 2020.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News