Newport Harbor Area Alumnae Panhellenic gives out $7,600 in scholarships

The members of the Newport Harbor Area Alumnae Panhellenic pose for a picture at an April meeting.
(Courtesy of Susan Lank)

The Newport Harbor Area Alumnae Panhellenic, now in its 70th year of operation, recently distributed $7,600 in scholarships to women across Southern California — and has given a total of $33,500 in the last five years.

The organization was founded in 1951 and aims to raise scholarship funds for women in college, but also makes some one-time philanthropic donations to local organizations such as the Balboa Island Museum in Newport Beach and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. Members typically meet once a month to discuss local causes that they could help.

“We’re very proud that our main focus is to provide scholarships for women. We are a women-based group,” said chapter president Susan Lank in a phone interview. She said the organization does whatever it can “to help out in any way to make sure that the girls have some help with their tuition and better themselves and get the education to push them into the next chapter of their life.”

“We always say that we’re small but mighty,” said Lank, adding that some members are homebound and unable to attend meetings, but continue to renew their memberships. “We don’t have a huge membership, but we pride ourselves on the fact that we could raise $7,600 to give four scholarships to women in the Southern California area.”

Scholarships are given out in the spring and are primarily based on need, though Lank said grade point averages and activities can factor into a decision. Most donations are from private donors.

Third-year UC Irvine student Meghan Powers said she heard about the Newport Harbor scholarship from a friend in her sorority — Gamma Phi Beta — and applied for it this spring, receiving a one-time scholarship of $1,800 that she put toward textbooks, her sorority dues and helping her family with rent.

Powers, a literary journalism major, said she hadn’t intended to join a sorority from the outset when she graduated from Fountain Valley High School, but that she did eventually do so with some encouragement from her mother to explore opportunities.

“I was just a little intimidated,” said Powers, laughing.

Powers said she felt the support of Panhellenic societies was important and necessary to help women further their educations.

“Especially in 2020, a lot of people faced a lot of financial hardship so something like this [scholarship] is definitely super helpful. [Scholarship winners] can still enjoy doing the stuff that they like without having to worry about financial hardships,” said Powers.

Fellow scholarship recipient and UC Irvine student Kate Platten said she applied for the scholarship after hearing about it from another student and Newport Harbor alumnae in her sorority, Delta Gamma.

Platten said she is a first generation college student and is currently double majoring in business administration and criminology, but added that she didn’t really have a solid group of friends in place on campus. It was the genuine connections she made in Delta Gamma, she said, that made her joining it “the best decision I made in my college career.

“Every job that I’ve gotten in college thus far has been through another sorority woman,” said Platten. “So, having a support system that’s been through what you’ve gone through … in my chapter, have graduated or in other Panhellenic communities has been helpful.”

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