My boyfriend’s mom asked if I could draw an eagle carrying a set of scales to promote a social gathering for legal professionals. I like it when people give me unique ideas for things I wouldn’t usually draw.
Recently I finished painting this special watercolor of a Marguerite Daisy. The Marguerite is the official flower of P.E.O. International (Philanthropic Education Organization). The official P.E.O. slogan is, “Women helping women reach for the stars.”
Three years ago, a Maryland chapter of P.E.O. awarded me a grant so I could pay for books during graduate school. Even though my employer was covering tuition, money was too tight for me to cover the remaining fees and overpriced college textbooks.
Although I felt embarrassed applying for a grant when I already had a full-tuition rebate, it was no time to be shy. I was still swimming in undergraduate debt plus the crippling general expenses of being a live human in her 20s. Because I worked in the education field at the time, a master’s degree appeared to be a life raft to higher income status. With dreams of someday being able to afford adulthood, I quit waffling and applied.
The P.E.O. members that I met were very kind and understanding. They saw a young woman making ends meet, but who still needed a boost. I was very clear to mention that I just needed some help with books and fees. The grant they gave me was enough to cover books and fees for the remainder of my schooling.
After I graduated with my M.S. in Marketing Management, I was invited to become a member of the local chapter that funded my grant. We meet regularly and work together to find ways that we can support other women. When we award a new grant or scholarship to a deserving woman, I feel like we are helping her reach the stratosphere!
At a luncheon later this month, we will raffle off my painting and the proceeds will fund our grants and scholarships for women. It feels good to give back in some kind of way, since P.E.O. generously offered me a hand when I was struggling financially. When you’re facing hard times with money and someone lifts that burden for you, the feeling is indescribable.
My dream is that someday, community colleges and public universities will be tuition-free to attend… or at least accurately price-adjusted based on merit and/or financial need (we all know the FAFSA is complete B.S.). I think there are a lot of hardworking people out there who are experiencing pushback when what they should be receiving is the support to complete their degree.
I hope we sell enough raffle tickets to give a generous scholarship to a fellow hardworking woman. I will feel so proud!
The Choptank River Lighthouse stained glass panel that I designed and built has now reached permanent display status. It is finally in the home it was designed for, next to that awesome glittery sink and under a skylight.
Nicolas T., a Horticulture student at my work, came up with the idea for an herbal tea product during an entrepreneurship class. Over the past 12 months our department has watched his idea rapidly develop, culminating in a product launch at the campus food co-op last week.
Taking off on his initial product idea, Nicolas grew Tulsi, Skullcap, and other ingredients for his tea blend in the UMD Community Learning Garden. He then navigated the bureaucracy of both the University AND state food safety laws to create a market-ready product: Terrapin Tea. If you have ever worked for a state-run organization, then you understand what a significant feat of tenacity and perseverance this is.
In addition to his pursuit of product viability, Nicolas harvested tea seven days a week, worked full-time at an off-site internship, dehydrated and packaged tea leaves at the Maryland Food Co-op, and still made the Dean’s List.
In exchange for some of said product, Nicolas asked me to design his Terrapin Tea logo. When his product launched at the Maryland Food Co-op on campus last week, I jumped at the opportunity to take some photos.
My co-worker, Heather, wrote a very engaging article about the entire process. I highly encourage a read! The rest of the photos I took are available on Flickr.
Nicolas (right) describing his product to Larisa and Amy.
Yesterday I finished this watercolor painting in memory of my pet Uromastyx, Liz Lemon. Liz passed away on January 20, 2018. She was one cool reptile and an excellent roommate; I miss her dearly. My apartment is not the same without Big Liz in her desert habitat, lounging under a heat lamp and gazing through the window at other, less spectacular animals. Painting this portrait helped me get through the doldrums of the past week or so without her.
“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.”
– Leo Tolstoy