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The Real Transformers

The Real Transformers
Spring 2010 | Volume 33, Number 1 | Alumni

Seven Decades of Fellowship, Service, and Support for Scholarships

The Women of Sigma Rho

The Women of Sigma Rho
Gathering in homes is a hallmark of Sigma Rho unity.

They had two main things in common when they first met informally in 1937: They were young women, many with babies, and many were graduates of the home economics program at Seattle Pacific College.

Together, they were Sigma Rho, the Greek letters that look like the “S” and “P” in “Seattle Pacific.” At their meetings, they socialized, made and sold dish towels, and eventually began to pool their funds to buy hand mixers and potholders for the budget-strapped Home Economics Department at SPC.

It wasn’t long before the dynamic and growing group, united in their passion for their alma mater, began charging dues and holding silent auctions, plant sales, and art gallery tours.

As the money accumulated, they hit upon their long-term purpose: to create an endowment for students of home economics, with an emphasis on those going into education. As the nature of the discipline changed and broadened to become family and consumer sciences, the need continued.

The Sigma Rho Scholarship Endowment, begun in the early ’80s, has increased to around $150,000 today. On average, two students receive scholarship funds each year from Sigma Rho, one of the largest SPU endowed scholarship funds.

This past Christmas, as they do every Christmas, the women of Sigma Rho collected an offering of several thousand dollars (with matching funds) to add to the endowment. Other funds come from families of club members, other alumni, and friends.

“We always invite scholarship recipients to our spring meeting, accompanied by the department head,” says longtime Sigma Rho member Jackie Nolte ’52.

“Meetings include a devotional, a report on activities, and a speaker (from SPU),” adds Frances Reynolds ’49, who joined the group in the mid-’90s. The club gatherings never fail to inspire.

“I volunteered to serve at the annual Sigma Rho brunch,” says scholarship recipient Kimberly Normand ’09. “I enjoyed talking with these women and hearing how many years they have been dedicated to SPU and family and consumer sciences.” With the much-needed scholarship support, Normand earned her bachelor’s degree and hopes one day to teach in public high school.

“We meet five or six times a year, sometimes in homes, sometimes in the Falcon Lounge in Brougham Pavilion,” says Nolte. She, like many of the club members, is an avid supporter of the University, attending plays and cheering on the basketball teams. “We have season tickets.”

Efforts are underway to gain younger women on the Sigma Rho roster, which numbers close to 70 members. Recent additions include a Nolte daughter-in-law and office manager for the SPU Alumni Center, Linda Warren Nolte ’82, and Lynne Hansen Hall ’76, assistant to the SPU vice president for university advancement.

Editor’s Note: An article on Sigma Rho in the Summer 2009 issue of Response included some mistakes, including a confusion of Sigma Rho and the Falconettes, two separate organizations. Also, the photo accompanying the article was misidentified. We apologize.

Photo by John Keatley

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