In 1923 there were fewer than 40,000 women college graduates in the United States. Which is why, on December 13 of that year, three college-educated women from the rural South Hills of Pittsburgh met to discuss how they could encourage younger women in their pursuits of lifetime learning. Thus the South Hills College Club was born, dedicated to three key areas of support—education, fellowship and scholarship—that continue to guide the club almost a century later.
“The reason I joined was scholarship,” says club president Kathy Midea, Hoodridge Drive. “They give at least $2,000 every year to at least one young lady, based on need and merit. So when you start adding up the numbers of what they give, it adds up really fast … They have donated over $25,000 since I started here seven years ago. To see that much money from an itty bitty organization that pretty much no one has heard of is what excites me.”
This year, the club awarded $4,000, split between two recipients. Half went to Morgan Meer, Mt. Lebanon class of ’19, who will be studying biology and communications at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall. The other half went to Upper St. Clair graduate Yingqui Tao.
“We send applications out to all the [school] districts in the South Hills where we have members in early February,” says Midea. “We always get so many wonderful applicants. [The selection process] usually turns into a debate.”
Other than filling out the application and printing two letters of recommendation and copies of high school transcripts, the only thing a student needs to do to apply is to write an essay about their accomplishments and dreams for the future.
Meer, Hillaire Drive, discussed her hope of eventually attending veterinary school in her essay. But what really impressed the committee were her accomplishments—in addition to maintaining excellent grades, she spent a term as the State President for the Pennsylvania State Society Children of the American Revolution. In that capacity, she led a project to preserve the Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Washington County, which contains some of the oldest evidence of human habitation in North America and has contributed significantly to modern knowledge about the people of ancient Pennsylvania. By the end of her term, she had raised $10,200 for the site.
A committee of five club members who do not have daughters or granddaughters in a South Hills school selected Meer and Tao.
In addition to the spring luncheon and scholarship presentation, the club also has three afternoon teas for all members—fall, winter and early spring—which fulfill the education aspect of the club’s mission. “We usually have a local author speak at one of our teas, which is huge with our members,” says Midea.
Fulfilling the fellowship aspect of the SHCC’s mission are interest-based sub-groups, which members are welcome to join. Last year, the club groups were: coffee and conversation, theater, weekend and evening, duplicate bridge, rubber bridge, gourmet food and reading. The club is hoping to add an antiquing group next year.
The club has 50 active members and would like to expand in both membership and programming as they approach their 100th anniversary. Membership, which is open to any woman who holds a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and lives in the South Hills, is $45 per school year.
Prospective members can meet with Midea at Panera Bread in the Galleria of Mt. Lebanon on the first Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. She is there September through May to welcome new members and answer questions about the club.
“I feel like there are so many ladies in the South Hills that don’t know we exist. Or who want a club, and don’t realize they can join,” says Midea. “But we would be happy to welcome them … there is a place for everyone in the club.”