Sophia Bailly was in the middle of a hair appointment getting ready for prom when she received the notification of being awarded the PEO Star Scholarship.

“I don’t like to push things to the side so I opened it and my hairdresser and I were celebrating.” said the senior at West Shore Junior/Senior High School.

Priya Gutta, a senior at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, said that at first the notification felt random.

“I wasn’t sure when I was going to find out,” she said. “Obviously, I feel joy and happiness.”

Bailly and Gutta were each awarded prestigious PEO STAR Scholarships.

Trish Logo, the PEO Projects Chair for scholarships, grants and loans, said the scholarships are very competitive.

“This scholarship is difficult to get,” she said. “You have to be invited to apply.

“Its merit-based excellence in leadership, academics, extracurricular activities, community service and potential for future success. It’s not just good grades. They have to have that something extra. They have this motivation within that drives them to succeed.”

The non-renewable $2,500 PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) STAR (Scholastic Talent Accomplishment Recognition) scholarship is for exceptional high school senior women who will be attending an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the United States or Canada.

“We decide who we are going to nominate and PEO decides who gets the scholarships,” said Kyle Phillips, the PEO EM Chapter point of contact. “Each chapter is allowed to have one nomination.”

Bailly, who is the editor-in-chief of The Roar, the West Shore Junior/Senior High School newspaper, will be attending the University of Florida in the fall, majoring in journalism.

“When I was younger, I

 “This scholarship is difficult to get. You have to be invited to apply.”

— Trish Logo

liked making up fictional stories. It was my escape from the rest of the world,” she said. “In ninth grade, I enrolled in journalism and fell in love with the concept of the truth and reality and what was going on in the world and have been passionate about it ever since.

“I have been interested in the art of political story and foreign affairs and conflict overseas. It would be neat to live in the (Washington) D.C. area or a northern state capital like Albany (New York) or Boston.”

Gutta has decided to attend her parents’ alma mater, the University of Michigan, in the fall with a dual major in computer science and business administration.

“It feels like a full circle,” Priya said. “The most interesting areas are AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning. I discovered my enjoyment for it when I took AP computer science in ninth and 10th grades. They have been my favorite classes so far. I’m also interested in entrepreneurship, to start my own company. That is a goal I have.”

For more information about the PEO STAR scholarship, go to PEO.org.