The P.E.O. Record July-August 2022 (public)



by Sue Barker, P.E.O. STAR Scholarship Board of Trustees

ack in the 1980s there was a beloved television show called “Star Search.” Host Ed McMahon kept viewers enchanted each week as the talented contenders competed to see who would win the big prize at the end of the season. As a P.E.O. chapter, you have an opportunity each year to participate in a “STAR Search” of your own— but how and when do you find your own talented contender? Many chapters start their recruiting efforts in the spring and summer prior to a student’s final year of high school to give themselves—and their applicant—plenty of time to prepare for the STAR application opening on August 15. However, it’s truly never too early to reach out to school counselors, extracurricular club sponsors and other community contacts to educate them about the STAR Scholarship. Once you explain the STAR qualities, ask for referrals of women who demonstrate excellence in leadership, academics, extracurricular activities, community service and potential for future success. Over the last six years, Chapter BH, Oneonta, New York, has established relationships with guidance counselors from three local high schools. Initially the STAR chair would reach out to these counselors in September, but over the years the chapter’s timeline has evolved. Their first contact is now made in April. STAR chair Betsy O’Brien noted that starting in the spring helps because “every step along the way needs a lot of time.” Betsy sends the counselors an informative letter and the STAR Scholarship Information Card, and then she follows up to ask for the resumes of some 11th-grade girls who are “mature, well-rounded and self-confident.” Betsy shared that one of the key words her chapter uses when talking about STAR quality is initiative. And though they are working with capable young women, Betsy and her three-person committee still provide their applicants with the STAR Tips for Success resource and lots of encouragement to “toot their own horn.” Joan Bowser of Chapter BD, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, described a similar approach to finding potential STAR candidates. Each spring she checks the websites of three high schools in her community to verify the latest contact information for the guidance counselors. She then sends an informational email about the STAR Scholarship and asks for referrals of several current juniors who the counselors feel exemplify the STAR qualities. Joan coordinates with the counselors to have qualified young women submit “a write up in any format of how they achieve in the five STAR categories.” This is due the week after school gets

out. Joan and her committee review these submissions and then schedule interviews in June with four or five potential candidates. Once the chapter has voted on their applicant, the STAR committee meets with her again in July to coach her on how to best present her various community, school and leadership activities for the application. When the STAR application window opens on August 15, the chapter—and their candidate—are more than ready to start! If your chapter hasn’t already begun this year’s “STAR Search,” the best time to start is right now! Work with your chapter sisters to brainstorm those existing community connections who you can ask for referrals, and plan how you’ll establish any new connections. Be sure to share the illuminating resources on the P.E.O. International website to help these community partners understand the type of student you are looking for, such as the STAR Eligibility Requirements and the inspirational videos of STAR speakers from previous Conventions of International Chapter. And while Ed McMahon won’t be there to help, you can still create excitement around your own annual “STAR Search!” Check out the STAR Spring 2022 newsletter to find all important STAR application deadlines. This is posted as “STAR Newsletter Spring 2022” on the P.E.O. International member website under P.E.O. Projects > STAR Scholarship > Chapter Resources for STAR . Or visit .


July–August 2022 | THE P.E.O. RECORD


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