There are hundreds of PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) Chapters around the world whose main purpose is helping women in education and Miami's FO PEO chapter is doing their best to fulfill this. According to FO PEO member Ginny Stinson who heads the Oklahoma Projects Fund for the local organization, "This scholarship is for women who already have been through at least one year of post high school education, someone who shows real drive and has all those great qualities in a woman that will do something with her education."

Out of many applicants from all over the state for PEO's Oklahoma Project Fund, Inc. (OPF) $500 scholarship, Michelle Hughes was chosen as one of the recipients. Hughes, who has already earned a bachelor's degree, is in her third semester of nursing school. She gained career experience when she worked previously in hospital administration in Houston and learned about the financial aspects of a hospital."Now I really want to get on the floor and help streamline that process because there are so many things we can do to save our hospitals so they don't go under and that's what I want to do. I want to help keep our local hospitals financially and be able care for the patients in the community," Hughes said.

Hughes dedication and hard work towards her goal are qualities that impressed the board members of PEO. Hughes works 12 hour shifts Saturdays and Sundays at Integris in Miami in the Generations unit, and 10 hour shifts at Freeman in Joplin on Thursdays and Fridays as part of her schooling, and then does her classwork on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

"It's quite a juggling act, it really is," she said, "I felt like I needed to take my twenty years of knowledge of healthcare and put it on the floor."

"I work on weekends as an aide to supplement my income because money is tight everywhere and we need extra income to get nursing shoes and scrubs, and it's expensive me driving to Joplin twice a week, and a lot of ink, because now days you get everything on-line where your teachers post it and you print out the information. I've gone through quite a few ink cartridges," Hughes said.

She said, "So, this money will go to very good use. I was thrilled and honored in finding out I was a recipient, because I know there are so many other people that applied, many that are returning to school."

Stinson said, "The OPF board was impressed with Michelle and her determination to further her education. Helping women like this is the purpose of OPF and we wish her much success as she strives to complete her education."

Hughes moved to Oklahoma in 1998 and made Miami their home with her husband, attorney Rogers Hughes, who is now an Assistant District Attorney for Delaware County. The couple have a 13-year-old son.