At a time of year when newly minted graduates command attention, a group of students still working on degrees is worth a look as well: nine women awarded scholarships by the Ashland branch of the American Association of University Women.

The AAUW of Ashland — the largest chapter in the state with 186 members — hands out $25,000 every year to women enrolled at Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College who demonstrate financial need and leadership in community activities, volunteer service and/or employment.

Nine women were awarded scholarships Friday in a ceremony at SOU. The recipients are studying a variety of subjects, but a common thread is a desire to help others, to give back, even though these students may have been given little they did not work hard to earn.

One scholarship recipient, featured in a story in Wednesday's Tidings, is especially impressive. Jocksana Corona of Talent overcame a Los Angeles upbringing marked by homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse in her family. She attended school 12 hours a day, taking advanced placement courses, but dropped out to help support the family and finally completed a GED.

The married mother of two is now enrolled at Rogue Community College, studying human services and family support services, learning skills she hopes to use to help others overcome the obstacles she herself faced.

"Without hope you cannot live," she said. "I want to be that person to say there is hope."

That kind of attitude should give us all hope.