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Investing in Good Stock

The third time was a charm for Peg Fightmaster. The first time she enrolled in college, she was 19 years old and excited to major in pre-med. But as the oldest of five children, she had to become the family breadwinner when her father lost his job. She quit school and went to work full-time. 
Debra Engel and Peg FightmasterThe third time was a charm for Peg Fightmaster.

The first time she enrolled in college, she was 19 years old and excited to major in pre-med. But as the oldest of five children, she had to become the family breadwinner when her father lost his job. She quit school and went to work full-time. 

“I cried when I told the professor I’d have to leave,” the mother of two said. “I pretty much knew what life was like without an education.” 

Peg enrolled in school again in the early 90s but because of her second child’s severe health problems, she had to drop out again. 

“There was always this desire to go back to school,” Peg said. “But my daughter would be in the emergency room all night and I’d have to go to class the next day.”

 When Peg returned to work in 2002, she decided to take a class through the Urban Learning Center (ULC) in Northern Kentucky. 

The ULC helps low-income individuals start taking college classes. A student can take up to 10 different courses at the ULC for only $10 a course. There are no book costs, free child care is offered and a small and supportive staff is available to help students manage their postsecondary experience. 

Peg enjoyed the class so much she decided to give her dream – a degree – one last chance. Funding was still an issue and ULC staff encouraged her to apply to The Cincinnati Business and Professional Women’s Scholarship Fund (CBPW) of GCF. 

 Peg was reluctant. “I just didn’t think I’d be worthy – when you don’t believe in yourself, it’s hard to believe others will,” she said. “I just did it more or less to say, ‘See, I told you I wouldn’t get it!’” 

 The CBPW Scholarship Fund was created to support women just like Peg, fund advisor Amy McPike said. The fund history has its roots in women helping women. 

As far back as the early 1900s, the CBPW organization existed to “give women a leg up” by training them in work force ethics and business etiquette. 

By the late 1990s, CBPW’s membership was dwindling. Amy and others decided to use the organization’s endowment as a way to continue to honor its history of benefiting women. 

“Our point in creating the scholarship was to really help women who needed to be educated to get a job and support their families,” Amy said. “We wanted it to be CBPW’s legacy. We wanted to educate women for the work force.” 

“Many adults returning to school take it slow and go part-time while maintaining work and household responsibilities,” said Mallis Schneider Graves, ULC Outreach Specialist. “So, most of the time financial aid only covers a portion of their expenses. 

The CBPW’s Scholarship Fund has helped many ULC adult students supplement their education expenses, so that they can continue striving to better their lives for themselves and their families.” 

Peg did get the CBPW scholarship, not once, but twice. She said it not only gave her finances a boost, but her confidence as well. 

“To me it was amazing,” she said. “I can remember meeting the ladies and thinking it’s so kind of you to look at me and see an investment. Because that’s what they are doing – they are investing in you. You don’t invest in a stock that’s worthless.” 

Obviously, Peg is far from worthless. She not only received her diploma 27 years after she first started college, she became an employee at Procter & Gamble Co. and is working on her master’s degree at Xavier University. She also tutors female students at the ULC. “

I tell the women, I believe in you because someone believed in me,” she said. Peg shares that when she walked up to get her diploma at Northern Kentucky University, she heard someone yell, “Way to go Peg!” 

“I looked and it was one of my professors from the second time I was at college, all those years ago.” she said. “He remembered me.” 

Way to go Peg! 

The Cincinnati Business and Professional Women’s Scholarship Fund of GCF was established in 1999. It is a part of The Women’s Fund Family of Funds.

Originally published in the 2006 Annual Report to the Community



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