For more than three decades, the Dorothea B. Hoover AAUW Scholarship has gone to a Missouri Southern student pursuing a professional degree.

“It’s given to a junior or a senior, and they need to have at least a 2.75 grade point average and be in financial need,” says Teresa R. Massa, president of the Joplin AAUW chapter’s scholarship foundation.

There’s one more catch, she says.

“Whoever receives it agrees to come to one of our meetings,” says Massa. “We want them to come and meet us.”

The most recent scholarship recipient is Kelsey Hickman, a senior health promotion and wellness major. She says she was happy to have the chance to meet the members of the local American Association of University Women chapter and to thank them for their generosity.

“It was extremely helpful,” says Hickman. “I tend to have a busy schedule and the scholarship has allowed me to relax a little more and focus on my schoolwork and internship this semester.

“They’re a lively bunch of gals. We had coffee and breakfast that morning, and heard from a speaker about rebuilding local houses. It was nice to see all the faces that make up the group.”

The AAUW promotes education and equity for all women and girls, and has more than 1,500 branches nationwide. The annual scholarship is named for Dorothea B. Hoover, a community leader who was instrumental in establishing the Joplin Little Theatre and the city’s first history museum. She served as president of the Jasper County branch of the AAUW from 1925-26.

It began as a patrons scholarship in 1986 before recently becoming endowed through the Missouri Southern Foundation. It has been awarded 44 times to 30 students.

The first scholarship in ’86 was for $1,400. Today, it provides more than $5,300 – a full scholarship for students carrying 12 credit hours per semester.

“We’re so proud to be able to help these students,” says Susan Haggerty, president of the Joplin branch. “I hear this comment a lot from some of the ladies, that if it wasn’t for the scholarship, they wouldn’t be with the AAUW. It’s their main goal and they’re glad to do it.”