AAUW/Durango currently has two endowed scholarship which provide a non-traditional woman student at Fort Lewis College with $1000 to apply towards tuition and fees.  They are the Virginia Schosher/AAUW Scholarship and the Janet Watson/AAUW Scholarship.  Information on the founding of those scholarships and their current holders appears below.  We are also almost half way toward funding the endowment of a third FLC scholarship, the AAUW/Cheryl Jackson Scholarship. 

2017-18 AAUW Virginia Schoser Scholarship recipient –  Madeline Walton

AAUW Virginia Shoser Scholarship – Madeline Walton (Maddie) Maddie is currently a junior at Fort Lewis College coming from Summit County, Colorado. She anticipates graduating in May 2018. She attended Colorado Mountain College in Dillon and transferred to Fort Lewis after 2 years. She is spending the fall 2017 semester at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam vis Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. She is working toward a degree in Business Administration with a concentration on International Business and Management.

“When I was in the 5th grade my mom took me to Europe for the first time.  It was also when I fell in love with the adventure of adapting and learning about different cultures. Since my first international trip, I have continued this love and curiosity for travel.  I took time some gap years after high school and when I returned to school I was eager to spend time abroad studying. Luckily my mother gently pushed me first to Fort Lewis College and then to Amsterdam for a semester abroad.  The semester in the Netherlands has brought the most change, difficulty and positive experirence of my life – all at the same time.

Maddie spent September 2017 volunteering in a cancer clinic alongside Livestrong.  In her spare time she enjoys  yoga, reading, studying Spanish, snowboarding, cooking and volunteering


2017-18 AAUW/Janet Watson Scholarship holder – Demerise Cormier

Demerise is a junior at Fort Lewis College – a non-traditional student with a 4.0 GPA.  She is majoring in psychology with a minor in cultural anthropology. She plans to study for her Master’s Degree in Counseling.

Demerise was nominated for an award in the TRIO Program which is a federally funded program that supports students who have disabilities, low-income and never had a parent graduate from college.



In 2012, this scholarship was named by the AAUW Board at the time and fundraising for our third scholarship began.. Cheryl had a long time career as a teacher. After moving to Durango, she joined AAUW along with a number of other organizations.

Cheryl was a fine committed volunteer within the Durango Branch of AAUW. She had been a member of the AAUW scholarship committee and President of the chapter twice. One of those presidencies came at a time when membership was at an all time low and Cheryl resurrected the branch. She initiated the Fall Membership Luncheon. She authored special meetings in the spring for new graduates to meet prospective employers or future educators.

Cheryl was in charge of several Book and Author luncheons and managed teas for graduating students.  She joined in the acting troupe of the historical program called Women of the San Juans playing a leading Madame of early Durango. She also acted in the AAUW production at Fort Lewis College Before Choice. In spite of suffering a stroke in 2011, Cheryl continues to enjoy visits from her family and friends an especially her fellow AAUW members.

The AAUW Cheryl Jackson Scholarship fund currently has close to $20,000.  It will be fully endowed when we reach $25,000 and we will be able to offer help to another deserving student.


This was our first named scholarship, named while Virginia was still alive.  However, not endowed until after she and husband Barney died, when they left their estate to education.

Virginia’s parents homesteaded west of Pagosa Springs where she and her 3 brothers were born.  Her dad died when she was 10; her mother then moved the family to Ignacio for a teaching job.

After Virginia graduated from the teacher’s college in Greeley, she taught in many rural schools, later in Pagosa and was thrilled to be offered a job in Durango–the big city!  She taught whereever she was needed for 37 years but 4th grade was her favorite and she was at Mason School for many years.

She married Barney in 1944.  In 1946, the Durango Branch of AAUW was formed and she was a charter member, serving as president 1948-50.  In 1952 the branch had enough money to fund a tuition scholarship to a girl from Dolores but they were not always successful in raising the necessary funds

In the last week of her life at Four Corners Nursing Home, she was pleased to receive the certificate of life membership from AAUW for paying her dues for 50 years.


The Janet Watson Scholarship was endowed in 2012.  When she died of cancer at 85, January 31, 2009, the scholarship had just been named and her daughters designated it as a memorial, which added donations of $1,000. to the scholarship.  They donated the proceeds from the estate sale ($3,000.) and they each donated $3,000. ($9,000.) of their inheritance, which helped reach the endowment minimum quickly.

Janet graduated from University of Wisconsin in 1945 with high honors in speech therapy.  She worked for the War Department, Borden General Hospital in Chickasha, OK, treating veterans with hearing impairments.  There she married Lt. John Watson, M.D.  After moving with the military, they settled in Durango in 1955 where Dr. Watson was the first radiologist.

Janet was very involved in the community, active in PTA, Girl Scouts, Great Books, reading groups; helped found United Way and was a longtime supporter and at one time a full time volunteer at Planned Parenthood.  She also was a member of Tuesday Literary Club, Reading Club of Durango, was a founding member of Friends of Durango Public Library and a PEO member. 

She was a 50 year member of AAUW, holding many offices, including Durango Branch presidency, 1966-68.  Her last contribution was researching Virginia Schoser for a fundraiser.  Not realizing her lack of energy was due to cancer, she had trouble finishing.  Lou Falkenstein helped her complete the project and Judy Hook presented on September 20, 2008 for a brunch at Electra Lake Clubhouse.  The proceeds went to the AAUW Scholarship Fund before it was named Janet Watson.