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April 2020 Heritage News: History and Inspiration

Category: Heritage

Noraleen Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

One of the things that I appreciate about history is looking at how people and organizations managed challenges in the past and drawing inspiration from their efforts.

Theta has had its share of inspirational members, both in the past and in the present. I don’t know about you, but I am thinking of our health-care professionals these days. Many Thetas have worked in the health fields, either on the front lines as nurses, physicians, and technicians, or as researchers whose work led to significant advancements in our knowledge and practices.

Among our Notable Thetas in the medicine and health category, one Theta whom I find especially inspiring is Maud L. Menten, Sigma/Toronto, a physician and scientist in the field of histochemistry. The Michaelis-Menten equation is named after her and her colleague, Leonor Michaelis. The first mathematical description of biochemistry, the equation is important in pharmacology, toxicology, and drug development. (For a brief, fun overview of her work, check out this short YouTube video.) Maud also did important research in proteins and immunizations, and her biographers note that she was a gifted painter, polyglot, and seasoned traveler who journeyed to the Arctic.

Throughout our history, many Thetas have become nurses, serving their communities and around the world. During World War I, there was a severe shortage of nurses. Vassar College, the American Red Cross, and the Council for National Defense established an intense nursing training camp for women with college degrees. During the summer of 1918, 20 Thetas participated in the Vassar Training Camp for Nurses. You can read more about the program and these Thetas in a Through the Years article from 2012. You can also learn about current Thetas in the health field by visiting 2019’s 35 under 35 pages and searching under Health, Medicine.

I hope you’ll visit the Heritage area of the Theta website to learn more about Thetas who have overcome challenges during the past 150 years. Just as I do, you may find inspiration from the past.