Jeannette Rankin legacy maintains local connections
The 2014 theme for Women’s History Month, held in March, celebrates “Women of Character, Courage & Commitment.” That theme fits particularly well for historic figure Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973), who in 1916 won election to serve as the first woman Representative in the U.S. House. She also has a local connection.
Ms. Rankin, who was a staunch proponent of women’s rights, was elected to Congress as a Montana representative, and ended up buying property and a home in Watkinsville in the late 1920s. From the 1940s to her death in 1973, she split time between Georgia, Montana, and the California coast.
It was through Ms. Rankin’s Oconee County home that another local connection to her legacy was established. In her will, Ms. Rankin left $16,000 from her Georgia estate to assist "mature, unemployed women workers." That estate gift was the seed money in 1976 — three years after Ms. Rankin’s death — to launch the Jeannette Rankin Foundation, which is based in Athens and provides scholarships to help low-income women over the age of 35 complete their educations and better prepare them for success.
In 1978, the Jeannette Rankin Foundation (now called the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund) awarded one scholarship in the amount of $500, according to the organization’s website. Since that time, the fund has awarded more than $1.8 million in scholarships to more than 700 women.
In 2012, the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund honored Athens Technical College President Flora W. Tydings during the organization’s annual Women’s Scholarship Fund dinner. The foundation presented Dr. Tydings with its Founders’ Award, recognizing her for outstanding initiatives and achievements in adult technical education as well as her leadership in economic development in the region, state and beyond.
The Jeannette Rankin Scholarship Fund might provide a funding source for some female students enrolled in or accepted to Athens Technical College. Students first must determine eligibility before applying.
Applicants must be: a woman who is 35 or older; low-income; a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States; pursuing a technical or vocational education, an associate’s degree, or a first bachelor’s degree; and enrolled in or accepted to a regionally or a school accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Athens Technical College is accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College, which is an accepted accreditation for the Jeannette Rankin Scholarship Fund.
For more information on the Jeannette Rankin Scholarship Fund, visit the website.