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Tracy Frank, Published September 07 2012

Built to last NDSU Women’s Club fosters diverse friendships

If you go

What: Fall Event featuring Tracey Moorhead’s presentation: “The National Book Awards on Campus – Concordia’s unique seven-year partnership with the National Book Foundation.”

By: North Dakota State University Women’s Club

Where: Concordia College Knutson Center

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 10

Contact: To learn about membership or attend the Fall Event, email: womensclub.ndsu@gmail.com

Online: NDSU Women’s Club on Facebook or http://tinyurl.com/NDSUwomen

FARGO – When the North Dakota State University Women’s Club began more than 90 years ago, it was an exclusive, white-glove, invitation-only group, made up mostly of faculty wives.

They would assist NDSU’s president’s wife with teas, and the president would even inspect the women’s gloves, said Sandy Huseby, NDSU Women’s Club communications coordinator.

Now, you don’t even have to be affiliated with the university to belong to the group, and getting your hands dirty is encouraged through interest groups such as the gardening group and ACTion Team service group.

But one thing that likely hasn’t changed over the years is the camaraderie the club fosters between the women involved.

“We’re kind of like a big, extended family,” Huseby said. “Whether people have been members for 30 or 40 years or are fresh to the club this month, they will find and have found a mutual respect for each other that I have not seen in any other organization I have been part of over the years.”

“That’s very true,” said Judy Petermann, the group’s board president. “You can always depend on seeing people you haven’t seen in a long time, and they’re very welcoming. We even get to know each other’s families.”

Bonnie Kirkpatrick, who was president for the 2010 to 2011 term, said that when she moved to the Fargo-Moorhead area in 2006, joining the Women’s Club was how she connected with other women.

“I wasn’t working outside the home, and other than my son and grandchildren, I really didn’t have any other connections,” she said.

She found out about the Women’s Club through a new acquaintance, who was a long-time member, Kirkpatrick said.

“Some of my best friends in Fargo-Moorhead are as a result of this club,” Kirkpatrick said.

“I think we’d all say that,” Huseby added. “So many warm friendships form out of this organization.”

A diverse group of women belong to the group. Some of the members have been active for more than 30 years, and the current board is made up of women from five different countries.

It’s not just a university-based group, but it’s also a community-based organization, Huseby said.

The membership expanded beyond faculty wives in 1977 to include additional NDSU women, students and staff. Sometime between then and 1995, the club expanded its membership again to include anyone interested, whether they had an NDSU affiliation or not.

There are various interest groups within the club, such as the book group, sewing group and poetry writing group.

“We have cultural opportunities, educational opportunities, social opportunities and service opportunities,” Petermann said.

One of the more popular groups is International Women, which meets monthly for diverse programs on countries or topics of interest along with samples of international food.

“We start our meetings with a little taste of that country and then find out more about it,” Kirkpatrick said.

The women’s club also hosts three seasonal events in the fall, winter and spring. The programming usually involves a speaker.

During this year’s Fall Event on Monday, NDSU alumna Tracey Moorhead will talk about the National Book Foundation’s close relationship with Concordia College.

Moorhead is Concordia’s executive assistant to the president.

Prior to her presentation, the three recipients of the Women’s Club’s scholarship program will be introduced.

Each year the Women’s Club sponsors a scholarship competition for NDSU women who have attained junior status.

Half of the annual membership fee ($20 for general members, $10 for students) is used for the $1,000 scholarships. A private donation this year made it possible for the club to award three scholarships instead of two.

“That’s why a lot of people want to belong is because it’s an opportunity to contribute toward scholarships through the membership,” Petermann said.

The club is working on increasing its memberships and raising the level of funding available for scholarships, both through memberships and fundraising, club members said.

“Growing the membership is vital, not only for the life of the organization, but also for what we can do, particularly in the area of scholarships,” Huseby said. “We’re working our fingers to the nubbins to be relevant now and not just an antiquated group.”