Sigma Rho scholarship donors and recipients in the food lab kitchen at SPU (left to right): Linda Middlebrooks ’64, SR co-president; Kathy Mayhle ’58, SR co-president; seniors Cortney Moore, Kirsti Graffenberger, and Andrea O’Brien; Nancy Edwards ’64, SR treasurer; and Rosalee Hughson ’60, SR secretary.
Cousins and co-presidents of Seattle Pacific University’s Sigma Rho honorary society, Kathy Blair Mayhle ’58 and Linda Brown Middlebrooks ’64 love raising funds for student scholarships.
That fact means a great deal to senior Cortney Moore from Port Orchard, Washington. The first person from her family to go to college, she calls the Sigma Rho Scholarship “an enormous blessing.”
“Every member of my family, including me, works to help pay for my education,” says Cortney, who wants to combine her abilities in public relations and fashion design and apply them in work with a design studio or fashion magazine. “Sigma Rho is one reason why I am able to accomplish my dream.”
The 60 members of Sigma Rho have built and continue to grow their endowed scholarship fund, which is managed by the Seattle Pacific Foundation. Founded in 1986, the Sigma Rho Scholarship Endowment, funded by dues, gifts, and special offerings, now stands at $200,000.
The organization is particularly proud of its 76-year history of support, specifically of students majoring in Family and Consumer
Sciences (“Home Economics” when Sigma Rho first formed in 1937) and those interested in education careers.
Both Kathy and Linda are educators. Linda says, “These young students with so much talent and Christian personality first study at
SPU, then take it out there where they can be a positive influence on a classroom of 30 kids.” She believes those scholarship recipients will demonstrate by their lives that God is in
control and that a person’s reliance should not
be on themselves but on Him. “If students hear
that over and over,” Linda concludes, “we can
change the world through our SPU graduates.”
Kirsti Graffenberger ’14 of Albany, Oregon,
and Andrea O’Brien ’13 of Spokane, Washington,
are also 2013 Sigma Rho Scholarship
recipients. Both say that
Sigma Rho’s generosity helped them over the
financial hurdle in their study for careers as registered dietitians.
Kirsti, a farmer’s daughter and missionary
grandchild, has traveled through a number of
countries including the Dominican Republic and
India. She believes that hunger is a solvable
problem. In 2011, she spent six weeks at an
infant care center in northern Haiti caring for 50
“It reassured me that the role of dietitians
fighting hunger is a global need,” Kirsti says.
“I learned more about what other organizations
are doing to help solve the hunger problem.
I want to use that knowledge and what I’ve
learned in college to educate people in how to better feed themselves and live a
Andrea’s focus will also be treating nutrition-related
issues, but especially those within the
aging Baby Boomer generation.
Sigma Rho presidents Kathy and Linda say
that now the academic discipline of Family and
Consumer Sciences has broadened beyond the
“cooking and serving” model of old to include
interior design, clothing and textiles, food
and nutritional sciences, and the teaching of
“It needs to stay relevant to the times,” says
Linda. “We’re very proud of our scholarship
recipients and their career plans.”
There was a day when Sigma Rho, the Greek
letters that look like the “S” and “P” in
Seattle Pacific, made and sold dish towels,
and eventually began charging dues and
holding silent auctions, plant sales, and art
gallery tours to fund kitchen equipment and
small appliances for the budget-strapped
Home Economics Department. Over time, the
needs may have changed, but the loyalty and
enthusiasm of Sigma Rho alumni and friends
Scholarship recipients are invited to share their
goals at Sigma Rho meetings. Because the
size of the group has increased, the gatherings
have moved from homes to campus facilities
such as the Falcon Lounge.
Cortney says that the accepting learning
environment of SPU feels like her home away
from home. For Andrea, it has been a case of
expanding her scientific knowledge, personal
growth, and faith in God. Kirsti likes that
studying in SPU’s urban location has opened
doors for her to serve the people of Seattle.
She, as well as Andrea, have been a part of the
student-led SPU Community Kitchen program
that both teaches good nutrition and provides
opportunities where the cooking that results is
shared at meals attended by instructors
For Kathy and Linda, SPU was the place where
they were given a Christ-centered, lifelong
education and where their familial relationship
as cousins finally blossomed. To share the
heritage that is Sigma Rho thrills them. They
invite others to join. They say the more young
people who benefit from “a group of ladies
who started a scholarship endowment that just
keeps on growing,” the better.