A mystery novelist and former St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist will highlight the Zonta Club of Jefferson City's 2018 Yellow Rose Luncheon.
Each year, the local chapter of the national women's group holds the luncheon to honor and award scholarships to women around Jefferson City. The Yellow Rose Luncheon will be 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. May 15 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.
St. Louis native Elaine Viets will give the keynote address. She worked as a reporter and general-interest columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 27 years.
Now Viets lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but returns to Missouri often. Members of the local Zonta chapter were fans of hers from her time at the Post-Dispatch.
"I'm absolutely honored," Viets said.
Each year, during the luncheon, the Zonta Club gives out its Second Chance Scholarships, which help women older than typical college students who want to pursue secondary education. Last year, the club gave out $17,500 in scholarships. In the event's 18-year history, the local Zonta Club has given out scholarships totaling more than $250,000.
Viets plans to tell women they must persevere through tough times. She thinks the message will resonate with the women receiving the scholarships.
"Everyone who's in there being honored has been through hard times and survived them," Viets said. "So those are women who are survivors, who are hard workers."
She entered the newspaper industry in 1972, when few women worked in newsrooms. She wanted to be an investigative reporter. In her first role there, her editors cast her in a traditional female role as a fashion writer.
"I was hired wearing a polyester dress that my mother made, so I was highly qualified for fashion," Viets joked.
As a young woman, she found it tough in the male-dominated world to be taken seriously.
"It took me years to do that," Viets said.
Now Viets writes mystery novels. Her first book, "Backstab," published in 2000 and is set at the fictional St. Louis Gazette newspaper. In her fiction-writing career, she also had to overcome a turbulent book-publishing business. After writing her first five books, another company bought her publisher.
For two years Viets had nothing to write and had to start again. During that time, she took a series of odd jobs to get by. That later became the basis of her mystery series "Dead End Jobs," where books revolve around characters working odd jobs.
"The idea is to take your adversity and use it," Viets said.
Viets said organizations like Zonta play a critical role in providing scholarships for women. She graduated from the University of Missouri and became the first woman in her family to attend college.
She worked during college to pay for her education. Because of the skyrocketing costs of college, though, she said it's now almost impossible to do that.
"College is the way out of a bad situation for many women," Viets said. "Now college is so expensive I don't think that's possible anymore, so the scholarship is really helpful."
Tickets for the event are $35 each and can be purchased at eventbrite.com/e/zonta-women-of-achievement-luncheon-may-15-2018-tickets-43640660390?aff=erelexpmlt.