Family Creates Memorial Scholarship for Immigrant Parents Who Achieved the American Dream


The following was provided by NSU:

An immigrant family, for whom an education was essential to achieving the American dream, is giving back by creating a Northwestern State University scholarship that honors their parents and recognizes their family’s story of courage and perseverance.

Katina Manitzas Booras of Shreveport and Helen Manitzas Malachias of New Orleans have established the Harry and Anastasia Manitzas Scholarship to be awarded to a student seeking a degree in education, awarded from freshman year through graduation. The recipient must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better and exemplify a strong work ethic. Booras, Malachias, and their late sister Mary Manitzas Georgiafandis, all earned degrees at NSU, where they were involved students.

“Dad instilled in us that education was of the utmost importance,” said Booras, the eldest daughter. She said her parents only had a third-grade education, but were great readers and raised their daughters to be hardworking, self-sufficient and resourceful.

The story begins when Haralampos “Harry” Manitazs left his native country and traveled to New York at the age of 12, became an American citizen and eventually ran a restaurant in North Carolina. At 30, he returned to Greece, was engaged to marry Anastasia, and contracted poliomyelitis, which left him partially disabled, requiring the use of crutches for the rest of his life. He and Anastasia married in 1932 and built a house in Greece. Katina was born in 1934, Helen in 1936 and Mary in 1940, their childhoods marked by the chaos of war.

Harry dreamed of returning to the United States to educate his daughters, who were naturalized American citizens, but obtaining a visa for Anastasia was problematic. When World War II ended, the family made the difficult decision that Harry and the two eldest daughters, who would help their father and companions for each other, would go to the United States, leaving Anastasia and Mary behind. in Greece, surrounded by their families.

Harry, 12-year-old Katina and 10-year-old Helen left Greece in December 1946 for a 12-day voyage across the Atlantic, landing in New York. They stayed with friends in Philadelphia, then traveled to Richmond, California, where they had relatives, and the girls enrolled in school. At the end of that school year, they moved to DeRidder where a cousin lived. It would be two years before Anastasia and Mary’s immigration papers were finalized, a period that provided many lessons in patience and determination. Anastasia and Mary joined the family at DeRidder in 1948.

When Katina graduated from DeRidder High School, DeRidder’s coach helped her get a work scholarship to attend Northwestern where she worked in the cafeteria and later served as a junior house manager at a college dorm. She has been involved with the Purple Jackets, The Choir, Potpourri, Future Teachers of America and Associated Women’s Students. She was named to Potpourri Court, Senior Class Hall of Famer and was Cenla Fair Queen. She earned a degree in education in 1957 and began a 36-year teaching career in Caddo Parish, also earning a master’s degree at LSUS. She met her husband Sammy Booras, a 1954 North West graduate, in Shreveport. Booras, now 92, was a baseball and basketball star and was inducted into the NSU Athletic N-Club Hall of Fame in 1991.

Helen graduated from DeRidder as a salutatorian in her class and received a TH Harris scholarship to attend NSU. She has been involved with Purple Jackets, Associated Women Students, the State Fair Court, Student National Educational Association and Pi Omega Pi honor society for business. She earned a business degree in 1959 and went to work for Standard Oil in Shreveport. She later married Charles Malachias of New Orleans, owner of Café Maspero, and although primarily a housewife, she kept books and helped in her husband’s business. Mr. Malachias died in 2019.

Along with Katina and Helen in Shreveport, Harry, Anastasia and Mary moved there in 1957, attracted by the Greek community and churches there.

Mary graduated from Fair Park High School and attended Northwestern where she was involved with Potpourri and Student Louisiana Education Association and served as a dorm assistant. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1962 and a master’s degree in educational administration in 1964 and had a long career as a teacher and parish principal in Caddo, where she was involved in numerous professional organizations and philanthropic and devoted herself to her church and many aspects. service there. In 1990, she married John Georgiafandis. Mary Manitzas Georgiafandis died on July 18, 2021 in Shreveport.

“We are pleased to accept a donation of $45,000 to establish a scholarship for a deserving student majoring in education,” said Jill Bankston, director of development at NSU. “The gift is donated by the Manitzas sisters, Katina, Helen and Mary, who attended Northwestern between 1954 and 1964. The gift honors their parents whose dearest wish was to provide their daughters with the opportunity to be educated and achieve the American dream. As Katina and Helen mourn the passing of their sister Mary, they wish to add Mary’s name to the honorarium.

Katina said her family is proud to be American, proud of their Greek-American heritage, coming from a country that has contributed so much to Western civilization – art, architecture, philosophy, science – and are grateful to have the Opportunity to Achieve America’s Dream.

A memorial for Mary Manitzas Georgiafandis will be held in July, the first anniversary of her passing.

For more information on the Manitzas Scholarship or to make a contribution, visit https://northwesternstatealumni.com/manitzas-scholarship/.

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