Connecting the Past to the Present Through a Theta Badge

Category: Heritage

Noraleen DuVall Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

On occasion, a family member contacts me on what to do with their mother’s badge after she passes away. Earlier this year, the family of Phyllis McGovern Soule, Lambda/Vermont, reached out to the archive. Initiated in 1937, Phyllis had been a member of the undergraduate honor society, president of the Women’s Student Government Association, and a member of Mortar Board. After having children and returning to school to earn her master’s, she became an assistant professor of human nutrition and foods at Vermont from the mid-1960s through her retirement in 1979, after which she also worked with the University Extension service. She served on several state boards and commissions including the Vermont Library Board, Vermont Racing Commission, Vermont Commission for Women and Health, and Human Services Board. In her home community, she was a justice of the peace and member of the zoning board. She was truly a leading woman!


Typically, we prefer families return a badge to the archive upon a member’s death, but in this case, as I learned more about Phyllis and her connections to the University of Vermont, as well as the family’s interest in returning the badge to the chapter, I sought a way to share the badge with Lambda. I spoke with Christa Samaha, assistant director of chapter services, who suggested that we should match a badge with a Lambda member who demonstrated the leadership that Phyllis showcased throughout her college days and beyond. I shared our thoughts with the Soule family, who was very happy with our idea!


During my annual tour of the archives for our new educational leadership consultants (ELCs), I had the opportunity to present Phyllis’ badge along with a note from the family to Jocelyn Nicotero, Lambda/Vermont, who majored in nutritional sciences, Phyllis’ own field, and who will now wear the badge during her time as an ELC. At the end of her service, the badge will return to Lambda for a member in a leadership position to wear it.


Naturally, Jocelyn was overjoyed to receive the honor. “I feel like it was meant to find me at this point in time,” she says, “as I am about to serve the Fraternity in such an important role, establishing Theta Xi/UC Santa Cruz. Bringing a piece of an early Theta chapter to Theta’s newest chapter shows me that this sisterhood has continued to grow and multiply, just as our founders intended. Wearing this badge makes me proud to be a member of Lambda, and overall this incredible organization, as I will always carry a little piece of home with me while on the road.”


View the video of the July 21 badge presentation: