P.E.O. Larchmont Awards Scholarships
to Two Local High School Seniors

Jessica Park

Camille Gowda with PEO Chapter AJ President Friedhilde Milburn and 

scholarship screening committee member Janet Day

P.E.O. (Philanthropic Education Organization) local chapter AJ Larchmont has announced that it recently awarded a $2500 scholarship to each of two local high school seniors.  


The annual Jean Bruce Scholarship was presented to Jessica Park, graduating senior at Rye Neck High School (RNHS). The Jean Bruce Scholarship in memory of Esther Steinmetz was awarded to Camille Gowda, graduating senior at Mamaroneck High School (MHS).


Park will attend Cornell University, aiming for a career in environmental conservation or conservation medicine as a veterinarian. Gowda plans to attend Vanderbilt University, majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in computer science. 


Jean Bruce Scholarships are awarded based on excellence in academics, leadership, extracurricular activities, community service, and potential for future success. Both these women impressed the screening committee with their accomplishments and goals. 


Jessica Park, valedictorian of her class, is a member of the National Honor Society and the Foreign Language Honor Society, as well as a National Merit semi-finalist. She served as a student senator for three years, this past year as Treasurer of the senate. 


She is a lifelong lover of nature who became concerned about how humankind and nature were interacting, and therefore has worked on many projects to help the environment. She founded the Student Environmental Council at RNHS, which raised money and awareness, encouraging students to be more responsible. Her three-year science research project focused on marrying solar cell technology with construction materials. She did advanced coursework online on climate change and restoration ecology at Columbia and Stanford, respectively, and she gave a TEDx Rye Neck talk on climate change. Outside school, Park worked at the Marine Education Center educating young children about marine biology, and at the Weinberg Nature Center caring for small mammals, reptiles, birds, insects and other species; she also worked at Half Moon Bay in California and at Pacuare Reserve in Costa Rica. 


In addition, Park is an accomplished pianist, an artist whose drawings were displayed at the local library and she designed the cover of the school’s literary magazine. She self-published a novel Away from Here and donated profits from its Amazon sales to The Nature Conservancy on the most recent Giving Tuesday. 

Camille Gowda is an outstanding student and the president of the National Honor Society chapter at MHS, where she organized service projects such as food drives and volunteer efforts at the food pantry. She studied computer science all four years, and earned a Computer Science award. She participated in the Original Science Research program, in which she conducted a research project with a professor from Barnard College, analyzing data about contamination of wells in Bangladesh. 


In addition to carrying a full load of science and math courses, Gowda was a competitive athlete at MHS. She played varsity soccer all four years, and was team captain her senior year, when the team won the league championship for the first time in 25 years. As a junior, she also made the varsity basketball team, and she ran in the 4×100 meter relay for the track team. She also joined the squash club, where she was president for two years. 


Her love of teamwork also led her to join the yearbook staff for four years, and she served as editor-in-chief of the Mahiscan this past year. Along the way, she also made time for a part-time job. Gowda hopes ultimately to work for a biotech startup, and to do her part to advocate for women in STEM fields. 


Jean Bruce, a former member of Chapter AJ, firmly believed in women’s education and provided funds in her will for this scholarship. Each year since 2013, Chapter AJ has been able to award one in her name. And for the past two years, a donation from the estate of Esther Steinmetz, another long-time member who died in 2020, has allowed a second scholarship. 


P.E.O. is a women’s organization that seeks to celebrate the advancement of women, to educate women through scholarships, grants, loans and stewardship of Cottey College, and to motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations. 

For more information about P.E.O., go to https://www.peointernational.org/.