Monday, March 31, 2014

Geraldine “Jerrie” Fredritz Mock, Phi Mu

Photo courtesy of "The Aglaia" of Phi Mu
In honor of Women’s History Month, the NPC blog is featuring biographies of Panhellenic women who have been influential historical figures. Our final post spotlights Geraldine “Jerrie” Fredritz Mock, who was initiated as a Phi Mu at The Ohio State University, where she studied aeronautical engineering. The first woman to fly solo around the world, she had always been fascinated with flying and married a pilot; her husband only encouraged her to pursue her interest in aviation. She received her private pilot’s license in 1958 and decided she wanted to see the world in 1964, leaving for her worldwide flight in March that year.

 Mock encountered several difficulties in her journey around the world. Shortly after leaving from Columbus, Ohio ¾ where she lived with her husband and their three children ¾ she realized that her long-range radio was not working properly. When she landed at her first stop in Bermuda, she found that her brakes were also not working as well as they should have been. She had the radio fixed in Bermuda and made additional stops in Morocco, Tripoli, Cairo, Manila, Saudi Arabia, Guam, Honolulu, California, Arizona, Texas and Kentucky before arriving home in Columbus 29 days, 11 hours and 59 minutes after she left.

Her flight set a total of seven records. Twenty-seven years after Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance, Jerrie Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world, the first woman to fly around the world in a single-engine plane and the first woman to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. She also set a record for the fastest flight around the world for Class C1-c aircraft, among several other records. Her plane, the Spirit of Columbus, was re-acquired by Cessna after her flight and was displayed at the Cessna factory until 1976, when Cessna donated it to the Smithsonian Institute. Today, the Smithsonian displays it at the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C.

After her record-setting flight around the world, Mock continued to fly and set several more world records. She was presented with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Exceptional Service Decoration in 1964 and was awarded the Louis Bleriot Silver Medal by the Féderation Aéronatique Internationale in 1965.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Edith Head, Delta Zeta

Photo courtesy of Delta Zeta Sorority
To help celebrate Women’s History Month, the NPC blog is spotlighting Panhellenic women who have been influential historical figures. The third featured Panhellenic woman is Edith Head, an academy- award winning costume designer and member of Delta Zeta. Head was born in San Bernardino, Calif., and raised in the mining town of Searchlight, Nev. She attended the University of California, Berkeley and earned a master’s degree in French from Stanford University. After completing her education, Head taught school until 1923. In 1924, she began her career as a costume sketch artist for Paramount Pictures.

Although she started as a sketch artist, Head worked her way up and quickly became known as one of Hollywood’s top costume designers. During her career, Head designed costumes for black and white films, color films and television. She designed for the top stars at Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios, where she constructed many iconic dresses that are still replicated today. Head was known for her outgoing personality and willingness to work with stars to create the perfect wardrobe. To honor her contributions to costume design, Head was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 1960, Head was selected by Delta Zeta as an honorary convention initiate. She was initiated as an alumna member into Mu Chapter at the University of California, Berkeley. After her initiation, Head continued to be involved with Delta Zeta. She lent her talents to the Southern California Council of Delta Zeta for its Lamplighters’ Flame Fantasy fashion show several times during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1968, Head was named Delta Zeta Woman of the Year.  The Delta Zeta Foundation awards a scholarship in her name for members studying fashion design.

Head died Oct. 24, 1981. In 2013, Google commemorated Head’s accomplishments and what would have been her 116th birthday with a Google Doodle. Head’s career as a costume designer spanned over 50 years and included 35 academy-award nominations and eight Oscars. She holds the record for most academy-award nominations and the most Oscars for a female.

Edith Head will be forever remembered as a Panhellenic sister who opened doors for women in the male-dominated field of costume design.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Margaret Chase Smith, Sigma Kappa

Photo courtesy of Sigma Kappa

To help celebrate Women’s History Month, the NPC blog is spotlighting Panhellenic women who have been influential historical figures. The second featured woman is Margaret Chase Smith a member of Sigma Kappa. Smith was an accomplished politician and a proud Panhellenic woman.  She was born and raised in Skowhegan, Maine. She graduated from Skowhegan High School in 1916 and married Clyde Smith, a politician, in 1930. Smith became involved in local politics during the 1930s when she was elected to the Maine Republican State Committee. After her husband unexpectedly passed away in 1940, she ran for and won his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Smith was the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress and was the first woman from Maine to serve in both the House and the Senate. Smith’s political career began in 1940 and lasted until 1972; during that time she was the first woman to lead the Senate Republican Conference. In the 1964 presidential election, Smith tossed her hat into the ring and was the first woman to receive a nomination at a major party convention. Despite losing every primary election, she stuck with it until she placed second to the other Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater. Smith was honored for her accomplishments in politics with the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by George H.W. Bush in 1989.

Although Smith never attended college, she was awarded an honorary degree from Colby College in 1943. In 1949, the Sigma Kappa Alpha Chapter at Colby College extended Smith an offer of honorary membership. On Feb. 18, 1949, Smith was initiated into the Sigma Kappa sisterhood.

Margaret Chase Smith exemplifies the definition of a Panhellenic woman. She was a fearless leader who opened doors for women in politics. During her lifetime she received 95 honorary degrees and more than 270 honors and awards. Smith will forever be remembered for her contributions as a member of Congress and as a trailblazing Panhellenic woman.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Carrie Chapman Catt, Pi Beta Phi

Photo Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
In this portrait taken in 1883,
Carrie Chapman Catt 
is proudly wearing her arrow badge in the style of the day.
To help celebrate Women’s History Month, the NPC blog will spotlight Panhellenic women who have been influential historical figures. The first featured Panhellenic woman is Carrie Chapman Catt, a member of Pi Beta Phi at Iowa State University. Catt was a notable women’s suffragist and founded the League of Women Voters. She was born in Wisconsin but moved to Iowa as a child, where she lived for much of her life.

Catt worked as a teacher to pay for her education and was the only woman in her graduating class in 1880. After college, she continued to work as a teacher and was later appointed superintendent of schools, becoming one of the first women in the country to be named to such a position. 

She became involved in the suffrage movement in 1887, when she joined the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association. In her involvement with the organization, she served as a professional writer and lecturer, recording secretary and state organizer. She later became involved with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and spoke at the group’s convention in 1890 in Washington, D.C. 

Catt became NAWSA president in 1900, following Susan B. Anthony’s term as president. Catt resigned her presidency in 1904 but resumed that role in 1915. During her second term as president, the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was finally passed, after which Catt officially left her role as NAWSA president.

Catt continued to be involved with advocacy work for the rest of her life, founding the League of Women Voters and supporting the formation of the United Nations. 


Monday, March 3, 2014

Why I Wear My Badge: It Is an Honor and a Privilege

Jean M. Mrasek, Chi Omega
NPC Chairman

I wear my badge as a badge of honor. It is a privilege to be associated with a women’s fraternity that promotes intellectual and scholarly pursuits, community outreach through unselfishness and service and character development through social interactions. I am inspired to put values into action. The badge is an outward sign of teachings and symbolism revealed in our ritual. I am proud to wear it over my heart.

Donna C. King, Sigma Kappa
NPC Vice Chairman
Each badge my NPC sisters wear represents an organization with a rich history, values and traditions. The Sigma Kappa badge is simple in design, yet members can customize their badges with different gems. Only one precious jewel is reserved to signify service on the Sigma Kappa governing board, and that is the diamond. My alternating diamond and pearl badge is beautiful and it is a privilege to wear it. In honor of NPC leadership rotation, Sigma Kappa presented me with an embellished badge in October of this year. It is a gold sphere encrusted with 26 emeralds representing the 26 inter/national sororities encircling a Sigma Kappa badge of alternating emeralds (for NPC) and pearls. It is stunning beyond words, and it reflects an exciting time in Sigma Kappa history. I am humbled by its beauty and the awesomeness of what it represents each time I wear it.

Not just today on International Badge Day, but every time you wear your badge, wear it with pride, as it is an honor and a privilege to represent your organization and sorority women everywhere.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Why I Wear My Badge: I Am Proud to be a Panhellenic Woman

Mary Jane Beach, Kappa Alpha Theta

When I put on my badge, I am reminded of the values of Kappa Alpha Theta, and the responsibility and honor I have to represent my organization and the Panhellenic community. Yes, my badge represents the Fraternity, its special values, the leading women who founded the organization and the thousands who have become members since. But, to me it is also a reminder of the common bonds of all of the NPC members. Though our organizations’ badges and rituals may be different, we share a common purpose and together we advocate for the sorority experience.

When I think of Kappa Alpha Theta's founders, leading the way and founding the first Greek-letter Fraternity for women, I wonder if they could have imagined the world-wide network of women, young and old, proudly wearing the Kappa Alpha Theta badge today. I wonder too if they would have imagined the generations of Panhellenic women, graciously representing the values of their sororities and working together to achieve great things. These leading women paved the way for me and so many others, and wearing my badge reminds me of their perseverance and faith in each other and each of us.

I am proud to be a Theta, and proud to be a Panhellenic woman. Wearing my badge reminds me of the pride of our founders, our new members and our alumnae. I am grateful to wear the Kappa Alpha Theta badge, and to demonstrate and share the values of our organization with others.

Celebrate sorority tomorrow by wearing your badge with pride for International Badge Day. RSVP that you'll be participating and download celebration resources online.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Why I Wear My Badge: It Symbolizes a Lifetime

Sorority membership is not four years, it's for life. Lifetime membership is different for each sorority woman. Some volunteer, some donate to the Foundation, some attend local events and some attend reunions with their chapter sisters. In this video Lynnda Hoefler, Delta Zeta, shares why she wears her badge.

Remember you ARE a sorority woman, so wear your badge with pride on Monday, March 3, in celebration of International Badge Day. RSVP that you'll be participating and download celebration resources online.