Launched in the midst of the Great Depression in 1934, the Greek Women's University Club was established to support Greek-American women in pursuit of higher education. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Elaine Thomopoulos, Editor, Greek-American Pioneer Movement)
CHICAGO – The Greek Women’s University Club (GWUC) has named its 2022 officers. Joanna Chamis and Anthe Mitrakos serve as co-presidents, while Georgia Nikolopoulos serves as vice president, Maria Michalarias as treasurer, and Harriette Condes Zervakis and Maria Stewart as the organization’s co-historians.
“Women have come a long way since the establishment of the GWUC in the 1930s,” Mitrakos said. “As co-president, I look forward to helping launch creative and meaningful synergies with friends and members of the Greek-American community.”
GWUC has over the years sponsored cultural activities celebrating Hellenism, including exhibitions, lectures, and receptions, and supports academic scholarships for deserving female students.
“Successful women are typically members of multiple professional organizations in their field, along with other civic and charitable organizations,” Condes-Zervakis said. “GWUC offers the added social component of connecting with others of Hellenic heritage.”
In the United States, women seldom continued their education beyond high school level prior to the Great Depression (1929-1939), after which, more and more sought entry into the workforce. A controversial topic in the 1930s, education for women was limited, offering them little advantage in their struggle for financial independence.
The expectation of the era’s women was to master household duties and marry. It is no wonder then, that they were not allowed membership to many professional organizations.
This challenge was taken on by Irene Harvalis Glyptis, who decided to create her own group in support of college-educated Greek-American women. Thus was born the Greek Women’s University Club, a revolutionary idea for its time, in the midst of the Great Depression in 1934.
GWUC was formed for:
the promotion of education among Greek or Greek-descent girls and women.
the maintenance of a Benefit Scholarship Fund for girls in need of assistance in pursuing their education.
cooperation with national or civic movements which tend toward the social and educational advancement of the Greek race in America.
encouraging the arts, literature and sciences among Greek people.
GWUC presented its first scholarship of $300 to Evangeline Jouras for first-year tuition at the University of Chicago in 1935. Aside from providing annual academic scholarships, the club has also organized an annual national music competition for Greek-American musicians aged 20-29 since 1989.
“I am proud of our mission to award academic scholarships to women of Greek heritage, and presenting various educational programs to the Greek Community,” Chamis said.
About the 2022 GWUC Officers
Anthe Mitrakos – Co-President – is an MBA candidate, journalist, entrepreneur and artist. She is editor at Portes Magazine and collaborates with the National Hellenic Student Association of North America in awarding academic scholarships to students of Hellenic descent pursuing higher education in the USA and Canada.
Joanne Chamis – Co-President – is a Chicago Public Schools Special Education and English as Second Language teacher. She is a member of the Elian Society and Amalthea-Cretan Society, and president of the Ypapanti Society.
Georgia Nikolopoulos – Vice President – is a proud first generation Greek American and a lifelong resident of the Chicago area. Her involvement in the Greek Women’s University Club is an expression of respect for the generations of Greek and Greek American women who broke barriers to allow greater opportunity for the coming generations.
Maria Michalarias – Treasurer – is an elementary school teacher at Koraes Elementary School.
Harriette Condes Zervakis – Co-Historian – is a retired secondary school educator, professional developer, and administrator. She was listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and has received recognition for exemplary leadership. Condes Zervakis is a member of several professional organizations and has served as president of The Hellenic Professional Society of Illinois, and as co-president of GWUC.
Maria Stewart – Co-Historian – earned a B.A. from Columbia University, a Masters in Speech Pathology from Northwestern, and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
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