Editor’s note: Welcome to Inside Out, our weekly roundup of stories about Staten Islanders who are making waves, being seen, supporting our community, and making our borough a special place to live. Do you have a story for Inside Out? Email Carol Ann Benanti at email@example.com.
STATEN ISLAND, NY – As March is Women‘s History Month and International Women’s Day was observed on March 8, to recognize women’s achievements and contributions to society, we are shining the spotlight on Advance on a group of professional women here in Staten Island.
One of the borough’s best-kept secrets, the Philanthropic Educational Organization, or PEO, is an organization that originally had its roots in the Midwest.
An association whose members are passionate about improving the lives of women and helping them advance through education, while supporting and motivating them, has now grown into an international organization with chapters around the world. All chapters in the country are designated by letters, with the Staten Island division being called PEO Chapter Z.
With Stapleton’s Sarah Dolinar at the helm as chapter president, the organization meets once a month at a member’s home, but twice during the month of February. (Recently, members meet on Zoom.)
“PEO is a 150-year-old sorority with nearly a quarter of a million members in the United States and Canada,” Dolinar said. “We are organized into chapters and the Staten Island chapter has been active for decades. As a fraternity, we understand the importance of supporting each other and promoting and funding PEO projects that help women pursue their educational goals through grants, loans, scholarships, and attendance at Cottey College. The projects are funded by chapter donations generated through dues and fundraising,” she added.
Women in need are nominated through members or anyone who knows someone who is in school or returning to school. The process begins with a written request in which they state why they think they are applying and why they think they should receive funding. They are then questioned by the members.
Scholarship funding is available for women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
Founded by five young women in the 1860s before their time, PEO is run by women for women.
In the past year alone, the organization has awarded scholarships to four women, some from Staten Island, in hopes of changing their lives for the better.
Women interested in applying for a PEO scholarship, grant or loan should go to www.peo international.org
MANAHIL JAFRI: $2,500 STAR SCHOLARSHIP AT CORNELL UNIVERSITY
A recent graduate of Curtis High School and an International Baccalaureate candidate, Jafri, who is considered legally blind, has been consistently ranked in the top 50 out of 400 students and is currently attending Cornell University.
While in high school, the Sunnyside resident was actively involved in student organizing and met with the principal to discuss changes to school policy and school event planning. Extracurricular activities included a dance company, journalist Curtis Log, and the academic program of the World Science Festival. She also sold shirts and held bake sales to raise money to donate to women’s shelters and volunteered at the local library.
She was elected as a student representative on the school’s leadership team and co-founded a feminist club to “demystify” feminism and feminist goals. She has held clothing and prom dress drives, been part of the school dance company and choreographed her own dance last spring. The dance, about the experience of blindness, would have involved blindfolded dancers if distance learning had not made its performance impossible.
She was a 2019 Youth Fellow for City Council, where she solicited suggestions from students for participatory budgeting projects in their neighborhoods.
Her mother pushed school administrators to make sure her daughter was in difficult classes. As a result, she is only the second visually impaired student to complete the International Baccalaureate program. Despite the challenges, she received A’s in all of her courses.
She plans to do a double major in political science and economics and a minor in public policy and human rights and hopes to attend law school to earn a JD and a master’s degree in public policy. She aspires to write and advocate for policies and to address climate change and the needs of minority groups, including the visually impaired.
“Not only did the scholarship help me achieve my dream of going to college, but the fact that PEO, such an amazing organization, thought I deserved this award – among so many other applicants – meant so much” , she said. “Winning the STAR award has made me even more determined to do whatever I can to help as many people as possible.”
TOTTENVILLE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ACCEPTED INTO PEO-SPONSORED COTTEY COLLEGE
Corulla maintains an academic average of 94 or a GPA of 3.8 while taking advanced placement courses. She is enrolled in a variety of courses, including computer science, US government, psychology, and literature/composition. She loves English and writing, and has had her work published.
The Annadale resident is an accomplished athlete who plays flag football for a local team as well as a travel team. In addition, she shared her knowledge of sports volunteering with young people who want to know more about the flag.
JThroughout high school, Rosas took challenging classes and credited a College Now course in criminal justice she took as a junior as the catalyst for her interest in studying criminology at Cottey College.
The Prince’s Bay resident maintained a 3.5 GPA and averaged 99% last semester.
Rosas is a student athlete who excels at flag football. She’s a versatile player who has held many positions over the years, including center and middle linebacker. Her love of sport led her to become a volunteer coach for a clinic for children aged 3 to 5 last summer.
She is adept at juggling responsibilities, works part-time, volunteers in her sport, maintains good grades, and plays on several flag football teams.
JENNA BURGOS MARRERO
Marrero has both academic and athletic credentials, having maintained good grades throughout high school while fully participating in athletics, including junior varsity basketball and flag football programs at school, at the city and national level.
The Port Richmond resident is a leader, as evidenced by her service as captain of all of her teams. She has been recognized by various New York and Staten Island organizations for her work and received the New York State Assembly Certificate of Merit and the Stephen Siller Award for Outstanding Athletics and Academics. And she has volunteered her time and services to the Religious Education School here in Staten Island and to the sports arena as a teaching assistant for youth basketball.
CELEBRATIONS – MARCH 13 TO MARCH 19
Sunday is the birthday of Ed Canlon Jr., who shares the birthday with Phillip Pecoraro, Nicholas Mignone, Jane Anne Marone, Jim Richards, Joy Lucks and twins Jennifer and Allyson Arena.
Sunday is Neil and Michele Mahoney’s wedding anniversary.
Happy birthday Monday to Rich Salerno, Carl Seton, Elizabeth Teresa Cassissa and Anthony (AJ) Cavaretta, who turns 14.
Birthday greetings Tuesday to Kerry Diamond, Zachary Lenza, Matthew Shea, Jessica Lauser, James Parker, Leanna Cooper, Gina Brennan, Carrie Picciano. LeeAnn Stoffers is 8 year old Barbara R. Risley.
The best of birthdays Wednesday to Flo Feith, Carmine DeSantis Jr., Jacki Foley Kelly, Stuart Price, Walter LaBetti and Patty LaGrotta, who turns 67.
THE 17TH OF MARCH
The happiest of birthdays Thursday to Glen Patrick Powell, Joseph Gardiner who is 23, Victoria Rae Parnese, who is now 18, Richard Kavanagh, Kathy D’Agostino and Patrick Gordon.
Best Birthday Friday New York State Supreme Court Justice Ralph J. Porzio to Ashley Maloy, who is 18, Dina Fleming, Bob Isola, Colleen Ryan, Sabato Conte, Stephen Castella Sr., Lauren Sklenar , Rocco Montali and triplets Scott, Cody and Sean Fox.
Happy fifth wedding anniversary Friday to Lauren and John Paul Giordanella.
Happy Birthday Saturday to Former First Lady of Staten Island Susan Lamberti, Class of 1986 Achiever and President of the Northfield Bank Foundation, Anne Manna, Karen Panarella, Anita Blasi, Susan Anderson, Kelly Stafford, Elene Pitelli, Peter Kruse, Jeffrey Scott Lee, John Crawford, Joy Truscelli, Jean Marshall and John Clark.