FARMINGTON — Winning the P.E.O. STAR scholarship is icing on the cake for Brianna Bahe, a home-schooled student preparing for her freshman year at the University of Notre Dame this fall.
The Philanthropic Educational Organization STAR Scholarship is a $2,500 scholarship based on excellence in leadership, extracurricular activities, community service and academics, said local P.E.O chapter member Linda Harris.
Brianna Bahe was recommended by the chapter for the scholarship based on her academic success and her many activities across the state.
"I went to Sacred Heart (Catholic School) kindergarten through fifth grade, and I've been home-schooled since," Brianna Bahe said.
Through an accredited distance learning program called Mother of Divine Grace, Brianna Bahe and her younger sister, Alyssa Bahe, were taught by their mother, Maggie Bahe.
Maggie Bahe said she used curriculum from the learning program to teach her daughters, while also engaging in virtual classes set up by Mother of Divine Grace for subjects she didn't feel comfortable teaching.
"There are so many ways to home school," she said. "They ran a full transcript — it's an accredited school — so it's like she is graduating from a private school."
In the Mother of Divine Grace curriculum, foreign language classes in Latin are a major portion of the style of learning. Brianna Bahe has spent the last five years taking Latin classes and has taken the National Latin Exam twice, earning a gold medal, summa cum laude, in 2011 and a silver medal, maxima cum laude, in 2012.
"Like any language — and it's tough to learn it — you have to take time to make sure you get the concepts," Brianna Bahe said. "As the years went on, it got easier, and by this year, I was pretty comfortable with it."
Brianna has kept busy taking dual-credit classes at San Juan College in chemistry, drawing and the Navajo language, along with taking part in the Merrion Oil Mentorship Program, which led to a job with the oil company.
"I asked (investment manager) George Sharpe to write me a letter of reference sometime, so I gave him my resume, and he gave me a job," Brianna Bahe said.
As a land department clerk, Brianna Bahe said she scans paperwork for computer use and sorts out documents.
Being home-schooled became an advantage as Brianna Bahe played soccer for Farmington High School, volunteered at San Juan Regional Medical Center, taught catechism at Sacred Heart Parish and served on Gallup Dioceses' SEARCH board, a weekend retreat for teens.
"I might be able to fit it all in if I went to normal school, but it is kind of nice to have a slightly more flexible school schedule so I can volunteer a couple of hours on Wednesday mornings," Brianna Bahe said.
At Notre Dame, Brianna Bahe plans to study chemical engineering and biomedical engineering. She wants to study both because she is unsure if she wants to focus on engineering or pursue a medical degree.
Maggie Bahe said she and her husband, Kevin, were interested in an education with a little more rigor and found that with home schooling. Today, they are excited by their daughter's accomplishments.
"I guess we just thought we could do probably do better and with this curriculum, she's had it," Maggie Bahe said. "She did get into Notre Dame, so I think we did alright."
Joshua Kellogg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @kelloggdt.