By: Ashley Williams
Delta Zeta, Central Michigan University
Traveling Consultant 2016-17
Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! It is that magical, yet simultaneously overwhelming, time of year as the big day you have been waiting four years for is quickly approaching. You are probably feeling a rush of emotions – excitement for the next step in your life, surprise as you pick up your cap and gown, sadness as you experience the “lasts” of your college career or anxiety as you study for your last final…ever. Trust me, I have been there. Some of you may be thinking back to your bid day, getting your little or the sisterhood retreat you met your best friends at, and thinking “I am not ready to leave this.” You may be thinking about the countless memories you have made in your chapter, or leaving the women who have been by your side for every high and low of the past four years. You may be thinking, “I am graduating…now what?”
Well, let me tell you, being an alumna of Alpha Chi Omega is just as sweet, and I can guarantee that your journey is not quite over yet. As a consultant, I have had the chance to meet a lot of alumnae over the past two years, women who have made the decision to give back to their chapter or the organization in both big and small ways. I have been inspired by the passion these women have for Alpha Chi Omega, and their dedication to furthering the mission of our sisterhood. I hope that you will consider joining me in staying connected with Alpha Chi Omega in a way that works for you, too!
Need ideas? Here are five to get you started.
This one is easy! Simply log on to the Alpha Chi Omega website and update your contact information. You may consider changing your email from your school email to a personal email and updating your address. This helps headquarters staff and volunteers notify you about any Alpha Chi Omega related opportunity that pops up in your area!
Spend time connecting with sisters as an alumna by investing in existing friendships, or beginning new ones! Whether you choose to mentor collegiate members through the Women and Wisdom program, attend convention in Austin, Texas next summer, or organize yearly reunions with the women in your new member class, the opportunity to connect with sisters is not lost after graduation.
Volunteer at the local or national level as an advisor, specialist, or facilitator. There are always opportunities to stay connected through volunteering your time. These range in terms of time commitment required, but there can be something for everyone! Learn more here.
Whether you are moving somewhere new or are just looking to meet new sisters, you may consider joining an alumnae chapter in your area. Alumnae chapters offer opportunities for networking, leadership development, service and philanthropy, as well as supporting surrounding Alpha Chi Omega chapters. Does this sound like you? You can locate an alumnae chapter in your area here.
If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “gosh, I don’t have the time to give,” there are still ways to positively impact Alpha Chi Omega! Donating to the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation is a sure way to impact our 21,000+ collegiate women. Campaigns like the Day of Giving or Founder’s Day Challenge, allow you to pick exactly where you want your donation to go. Donating on the local level, such as to your chapter of initiation, is also an option. Learn more about how you can give here.
So yes, you are graduating, but you are not alone. You are joining the thousands of women who proudly call themselves alumnae of Alpha Chi Omega, and who have been changed for the better because of this sisterhood. I hope that as you look back at your first few years of membership in Alpha Chi Omega that you are reminded of the fun, growth, and bond you experienced, and are encouraged to stay connected to ensure that our future sisters have even better experiences than we did. How will you decide to stay connected with Alpha Chi Omega as an alumna? Share with us in the comments below!
By: Nina Ries
Epsilon Psi, University of California – Irvine
Alumna Appreciation Award Recipient
Although I typically write on the subject of business and real estate matters, there is an overarching issue that impacts us all.
There seems to be tremendous focus on being “busy” – and the most popular answer these days to “How are you?” seems to be “Busy.” Unfortunately, many seem to think that, because they are “busy,” they can be justified in declining additional responsibility, exploring new opportunities, taking on a new venture, volunteering or joining an alumnae group. I firmly believe that this is a mistake. And this mistake can cost you both personally and professionally.
I’ve never regretted saying yes. This is a refrain I hear often.
After graduating from law school, I went to work for a litigation boutique in Downtown Los Angeles where I delved into the world of complex business litigation and multi-faceted real estate disputes. Eventually, I joined a larger firm doing the same thing, but also added transactional work to my practice. During my career, I have received excellent training and had terrific mentors who were invested in my success, as well as some role models and teachers who may not have realized their impact on me. One thing that really stands out to me about my own path – and that of my most successful colleagues – is that in order to really learn and grow, you must be inspired to stretch yourself, to challenge yourself and to expand your horizons. Each of my mentors advised me to say yes to new opportunities from the earliest stages of my career, and they were right. I started off saying yes to projects to gain experience and a competitive edge over my contemporaries. Some of those projects were exciting while others were less so, but all of them were educational, and all expanded my capabilities and my marketability. Indeed, I use my experience as a litigator to draft deal documents designed to reduce the risk of litigation, offering value added to my clients and shaping my entire practice for years to come.
Saying yes to opportunities also extended into my personal life. Saying yes has led to incredible travel stories. I’ve made countless interesting friends by saying yes to opportunities with my alma mater. So when it came to involvement with Alpha Chi Omega’s local alumnae group, the only answer was yes – and my involvement has paid dividends in the form of new business opportunities, new friendships and the forging of a stronger, deeper connection with my fellow alumni. I’ve also had an opportunity to pay it forward to collegians as a way of thanking the alumnae who helped support my chapter when I was a collegian.
At 18, I didn’t appreciate the lifetime of fun, friends and experiences that awaited me — not just for the next four years, but for a lifetime. I’m thankful that membership in Alpha Chi Omega continues through every stage of our lives. Through the alumnae experience, Alpha Chi has always met me where I was. When I was a young alumna living on the Westside of Los Angeles, Gamma Theta Gamma (South Bay and Westside) offered fun events that I wouldn’t have otherwise had time to plan for myself, interesting meetings featuring speakers on a variety of topics that left me smarter than when I had walked into the room, a trusted group of girlfriends for referrals to doctors and service providers and networking opportunities for career advancement. As I gained more experience and became more settled in my geographic area and career, Alpha Chi offered stress relief and support — in spades! My current alumnae chapter (Alpha Kappa Alpha in Pasadena, California), counts as its members alumnae fresh out of college and those who have received their 75-year pins. At our meetings and events, we paint, learn to cook healthy recipes from a trained chef, we taste test dark chocolates and tea, we host speakers on topics ranging from health and well-being to a New York Times best-selling author, we learn about wine and cheese-making, discuss books and – of course – socialize. Through it all, my life has been enriched, I have learned about a variety of topics, I have made friends with incredible women who I probably would never have otherwise met, and I have an ever-growing list of local activities to try and places to visit, all recommended by my sisters. Best of all, over the years, I have met alums from other chapters whom I am lucky to count as some of my best friends — all because of this shared bond. I’m so thankful for it.
Many people ask how one could possibly juggle being a professional, a parent, and a volunteer all at once. My fellow volunteers are doctors, lawyers, engineers, real estate investors, investment bankers, medical researchers, teachers and executives. Most work full time (or more), and all of us have children and family obligations. We take on what we can at the time. During a recent conversation involving about a dozen of us, we all recognized that we have grown both personally and professionally from the experience. So I urge you: join an alumnae chapter and get involved – whether it’s by attending meetings once a month, volunteering as a hostess for a meeting, coordinating a group outing or serving as an officer. You owe it to yourself to explore the possibilities that await you and to take advantage of the opportunity for growth. Your professional success and your personal fulfillment will be the better for it. And I promise you’ll meet some of the most amazing women you’ve ever met through your participation. See you at an Alpha Chi event very soon!
By: Kim McClure
Gamma Omicron, Marshall University
Outstanding Dedication Award Recipient
When I began my college experience at Marshall University in 1987, it wasn’t on my radar to join a sorority. On a whim, I decided to go through rush with some other girls on the floor of my dorm. We went through together, but they felt a calling to another group as I was feeling a strong pull to Alpha Chi Omega. I remember sitting in the formal living room of the house with the grand piano and it just felt like I belonged there. So, when the time came to make decisions on the final day, I wrote Alpha Chi Omega as my first choice and, luckily, they felt the same way.
However, my four years weren’t traditional. I made some academic mistakes with my priorities out of order. Midway through my sophomore year, the university required me to take a leave of absence (that’s the polite way to say I flunked out). I left for a semester, attended community college, and then went back to Marshall that summer for classes. By the end of the summer, I had earned enough credits to be re-admitted to the university, but I wondered if I would be welcomed back into the chapter. Our chapter advisor, Teresa Moore, took me under her wing. She placed me in a room with sisters I didn’t know that well, but that she knew would be a good influence on me. She developed a plan for me to follow for studying and made sure our scholarship chair checked on me occasionally. That structure and the support I received from my sisters is something I will never forget. One of those roommates I didn’t know very well, Shawna Nelson, became one of my best friends and introduced me to my husband, a clear indication that all of that was in God’s plan for me.
I served as rush advisor after graduation as well as chapter advisor for a few years, then I started a family and passed the torch to others. My family has moved frequently through the years due to my husband’s career and I have stayed busy with other things, but like that strong pull to Alpha Chi Omega in Spring 1988, I started to feel a pull to it again when we moved to Allentown, PA in 2008. Feeling that pull of sisterhood, I began reconnecting with my sisters on Facebook. I had not kept in touch with most of them, but as we started getting together over the next few years, it was evident that those bonds we built in college were still strong. We grew up in the Alpha Chi Omega house away from our families, experiencing life and new responsibilities. Each of us experienced the struggles that all young adults have as they are maturing and figuring out who they are when they are on their own. Those days of helping each other study or using three cans of Aqua Net in one night to get “big hair” or consoling each other as we had our hearts broken by the wrong guy or maybe even telling that wrong guy to leave and not come back in solidarity made us who we are today.
I was asked why I volunteer for Alpha Chi Omega today. The organization has brought wonderful people into my life. I want other women to have the opportunities that I had to feel those strong connections, that sense of knowing that this crew of women had my back then and they have it now. We recently formed a virtual alumnae club for members of Gamma Omicron and we have 81 members living all over the USA, in Hong Kong, and India. I am always amazed, but never surprised, to find that whether that person was an Alpha Chi Omega before me, or if they have joined after me, that they are a person of high quality and conscience. I volunteer for many organizations in the community, and they all support great causes. I choose to continue to volunteer for Alpha Chi Omega because it’s a small way to pay back that unconditional support I was given through a dark time in my young adult life. It’s a gift I will never forget or be able to repay, but I am working on it.
By: Kelly Kilgour
Kappa Nu, Carnegie Mellon University
Young Alumna Award Winner
In the spring of my freshman year at Carnegie Mellon, I joined a local independent sorority called Zeta Psi Sigma through informal recruitment. I came for the free pizza and stayed for the friendship.
At the time I joined the sorority, the chapter had only 150 initiates. For a variety of reasons, in the following semester we chose to begin the process of being “adopted” by a National Panhellenic Conference organization. We reviewed marketing materials from a dozen national organizations, attended four expansion presentations, and ultimately chose Alpha Chi Omega. Our community of 150 women expanded to over 200,000.
Current National Vice President Jennifer Daurora was the chapter advisor for Kappa Nu when I was a collegian, and she set an excellent example of what the alumnae experience could be like. While I’m sure that she could tell many stories of my collegiate days when I was one of those “difficult” collegians, strong-willed and stubborn over details as inconsequential as T-shirt colors, Jen stuck with me and continued to be my model for alumnae life in Alpha Chi Omega. In fact, when I moved to Dallas after graduation, it was Jen who encouraged me to reach out and try volunteering with the local alumnae chapter.
Moving over a thousand miles away from home wasn’t easy, but my experience volunteering for Alpha Chi Omega gave me a way to become involved locally and helped me to feel more at home in a strange city where I initially knew no one. Plus, through my work as a volunteer, I met so many amazing women! When I returned to Pittsburgh a year later, Jen immediately called me with the opportunity to become the alumnae chapter president. After having such a good experience volunteering in Dallas, I couldn’t say no. I was honored that Jen had asked me to step up, and I was excited to be able to connect with other volunteers–sorority sisters I had never met!–in my hometown. At the same time as I was broadening my network locally, I was also beginning to volunteer at a national level as a technology specialist, helping alumnae chapters across the country integrate more technology into their operations. Volunteering nationally allowed me to connect virtually with even more sisters outside of Pittsburgh.
When I look back over the years since graduating from Carnegie Mellon, my memories of time spent with sisters are some that I remember most fondly. When I was struggling to adjust to life in Dallas, I vividly remember how Suzy, the alumnae chapter president, took me out to dinner for my birthday. Another favorite memory was when I got the chance to travel to California and assist a professional filmmaker and Alpha Chi Omega sister who was filming the Southern California Career Day. As a data analyst and software developer, my job is typically very technical and exact, so having the chance to be a part of a creative process was new and exciting.
I anticipate making many more memories like this… starting in just a few weeks! On Sunday, May 7th, I will be running my first half marathon with Myrka, my former VP finance advisee from Carnegie Mellon, to raise money for the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. It’s hard for me to explain just how excited I am. This opportunity combines so many of the things that I value: philanthropy, friendship, striving for physical well-being and setting an example for other Alpha Chi Omega sisters. I started volunteering for Alpha Chi Omega because I had such a great role model in Jen, and because the community gave me strength and camaraderie when I was setting out on my own. I continue to volunteer because I want to give back–and to inspire others to do the same.
By: Micah Woodul
Alpha Gamma, University of New Mexico
And that’s a wrap! Just like that, our global service initiative is over. It’s hard to believe all the anticipation, planning, waiting, conference calls, packing and re-packing, and now even the working, the cleaning, the raking, the planting, the mopping, the sweating, the freezing and the service have come to an end. What seemed to take forever to get here was over in a flash, but what an incredible four days it has been. Those four days being set in picturesque Shenandoah Valley in Woodstock, Virginia.
Even though we had the comfort of knowing that the “strangers” we were meeting to share in this adventure were our AXO or other affiliated Greek sisters, there was no way to know how deep the collective inner strength, love and beauty of each woman would affect the other. Through our service at Response, Inc. and our service to each other (we were responsible for warming up and readying a meal for the others), we revealed much about ourselves. We shared our talents, like green thumbs or toilet seat replacement. We revealed our shortcomings, some of us just aren’t morning people, and some don’t ever cook bacon! We learned about each other’s hopes and fears. We were vulnerable and strong at the same time. We were able to find humor in the face of adversity, like yard work in the pouring rain; and share the meaning of sisterhood, as poignantly shared by a sister who is an only child. Working side by side for the benefit of others, brought great joy and fulfillment to our group.
So, as we awoke this morning and readied ourselves to begin to get back to our other lives, we had much to ponder. We only had a few more moments with each other. One more breakfast visiting and laughing around the big table. One more time cleaning up the kitchen and exchanging information. One more time loading into cars and keeping track of each other’s schedules. Saying goodbye was difficult. Especially when considering that really we all just met a few days prior. However, it is amazing what you find within yourself and fellow volunteers on the path of service to others if you open your heart, and your mind. Because on that path, as you listen and share, as you problem solve and support, you find you have more of a connection with your AXO “sisters” or whomever you are with than you every thought possible. No act of service, however small, is ever wasted.
By: Lauren Wake
Beta Nu-University of Utah
I am obsessed with the symphony. No really – I have an unhealthy love for this piece of Alpha Chi Omega heritage. I went to the University of Utah, which is one of the few chapters that still sings it consistently, and let me tell you the melody is beautiful.
But the melody really isn’t what does it for me, it’s the meaning and intention behind every single word in the song. Think about it: an entire song dedicated to not just our sisterhood, but to our mission and our history and our Ritual. It’s fantastic, which is why the Symphony of Alpha Chi Omega has been on repeat over and over and over again in my head since I got on a plane in Los Angeles at 6:15 AM to head to Woodstock, Virginia. And sisters, that 6:15 AM flight was just the beginning of a grueling (but SO rewarding) weekend.
The ten of us started off as (almost) perfect strangers. We range in age from 23 to 65+. We come from all over the country. We have different tastes, different accents, different life stories, but the one thing we shared was Alpha Chi Omega. We shared the symphony.
Over the course of this weekend I have truly learned what it means to be a sister. I cannot count how many times I have been tired and broken down, wishing I had four more hands, when two more real, strong women were walking towards me, ready to lift me up. We had rough manual work to do. We had grueling weather conditions. We had a daunting task and reality to face, but we persevered.
We saw the beauty in even the most common things of life (new toilet seat anyone?). We shed the light of love and friendship to each other, and to the facilities at Response, Inc. We appreciated every little service. We appreciated those with badges different than our own (hi Kaye & Kristyn!). We put love, unselfishness and sincerity into everything we did, and we did it all with happiness, joy and peace. We lived the symphony, and we lived it well.
Each one of the women I have met this weekend helped me love each line of the symphony a little bit more through their strength, hope and determination, but most of all through their sisterhood. I may be leaving Virginia with some sore muscles, but I am also leaving it with nine new beautiful and blossoming relationships with some of the greatest sisters I know. You are all my symphony!
By: Anita Kelly Grant
Epsilon Lambda, University of Texas-Arlington
Today was our first day of work for Alpha Chi Omega’s Global Service Initiative. While eating breakfast, our host, Kaye, asked us to reflect on the meaning of service versus volunteering. As I worked alongside my sisters, my mind continued to wander back to this question. And I must say that throughout the day, I saw many examples that illustrated just what volunteering and service truly mean.
We started our day by meeting with Beth, the volunteer coordinator of Response Inc. Response Inc. is a community organization dedicated to preventing and helping people overcome sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other forms of abuse and exploitation. Response Inc. provides outreach, advocacy, education and supportive services to its clients and the community.
Beth gave use a tour of the facility while explaining the day-to-day functions of the organization. I was humbled and intrigued by the support they provide to such a large service area and how dedicated the staff was in carrying out their mission. I felt honored to be with my sisters who were as passionate and eager as I was to help.
At the facility, we identified so many areas that needed our attention – there was no shortage of things to do! We split into two groups and we went to work; one group cleaned inside the house and the other group worked on the outside. It was a hot and humid day, but no one seemed to mind. We were engrossed in our hard work and the energy and enthusiasm was contagious. The day went by quickly and we returned to our home base, tired and spent, but with a huge sense of accomplishment.
It has only been day one of this Global Service Initiative, but I am truly looking forward to tomorrow and to spending more time working with my sisters. I am proud to be a part of such a selfless group that understands the meaning of teamwork and altruism. To give of your time, talent and treasure to a greater cause that benefits others is such a rewarding experience. It is the true spirit of volunteer service and it personifies what it means to be an Alpha Chi – to spread the light of love and friendship.
So back to Kaye’s question: what is the difference between volunteering and service? For me, I see them as a continuum. We volunteer because we identify with a cause we feel is worthy of our time and energy. As we see the positive impact that our actions have on the community, our desire to serve becomes a calling for something much greater. It is this sense of kinship and connection with those who share our passion that drives us and gives us hope that our actions will incite others to give back as well. When people give of themselves to meaningful causes, they are investing in the kind of community and world in which they want to live.
By: Carly Sivillo
Beta Omega, University of Toledo
Today, April 20, 2017, marks the first day of the alumnae Global Service Trip. I came into this trip a little nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was the first to arrive at the airport, and soon after I had arrived and settled in, I met Chris, another trip participant.
After meeting Chris, I became more comfortable as she had been on the previous alumnae trip and was telling me all about her experience and how fun it was. A bit later, we met up with the rest of the ladies who had flown in. We all hit it off right away! We spent the rest of the time at the airport chit-chatting away, and the time flew by.
Before we knew it, Kristyn and Kaye were picking us up from the airport. Once we arrived at the Tri Sigma house, Kaye, who was the Tri Sigma national president for six years, began giving us a tour of the beautiful home we will be staying in for the next four days.
As we settled in, all of the women got together in the porch area and talked for hours! I must say, I was a little intimidated when I found out that I was the youngest member out of the group; I just graduated in 2016 and am new to the alumnae world. But these ladies have made me feel so comfortable. I am looking forward to spending the rest of the weekend learning from and working with them.
I am so excited to start our work tomorrow at Response, Inc. and continue developing a bond with other Alpha Chi Omega alumnae. A quote from Chris’s shirt stated, “It’s not just 4 years, it’s a lifetime,” and this trip is already helping me understand what that truly means.
By Mallory Church
Delta Zeta, Central Michigan University
Last year when I got my job offer to be an Alpha Chi Omega chapter consultant I was beyond proud of myself and excited for my new adventure. However, when I shared my post-graduation plans, a common response I received sounded something like, “Oh you can’t let go? So, you’re basically going to be in Alpha Chi for an extra year?” Of course, I knew my year as a chapter consultant would be much different than my undergraduate experience, but what I didn’t expect was how much I would grow during my “extra year.”
In June when I started this journey, I had no idea what laid ahead; I was a little nervous but I was eager to get started. Now, I have only one month left in my “extra year” and my heart is so heavy knowing that this experience is wrapping up. My year as an Alpha Chi Omega chapter consultant has been one of the most incredible journeys of my life. In college, Alpha Chi Omega gave me opportunities to learn what it meant to be a real, strong woman. As a consultant, I have been given experiences to test that. Being a consultant has helped me become even stronger, more confident and proud to be an Alpha Chi Omega. This year has brought me even closer to the bond we share as Alpha Chi’s and I am so thankful for this experience. I not only gained 17 incredible consultant sisters but also the encouragement of the entire headquarters staff, the support of our incredible volunteer team and the friendship of many collegiate members. These real, strong women have not only supported me through the challenges I faced this year but they have celebrated my wins with me too. The women I have worked with on the road will always hold a very special place in my heart; I will forever cherish the laughs and memories we have shared.
There’s a very cheesy Dr. Suess quote I love, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” If you know me you know tears come easy, but I intend to spend my last month making the most of every moment so when it is all said and done, I have nothing but unforgettable memories (and happy tears). Senior members are also wrapping up their last year with Alpha Chi Omega. As you wrap up the year, join me in taking advantage of every opportunity with these 5 challenges:
I challenge you to…
- Give more: Even when you think you have given your all to your chapter, dig deeper. At the end of the year, it’s easy to pull back on your involvement but I challenge you to do just the opposite. Attend everything! It’s so easy to get caught up in classwork, job searching or even a good show… but I challenge you to spend more time with sisters! Take a study break during the week to go to a sisterhood event.
- Make a bucket list and cross off everything: The semester is not over yet and you still have time to enjoy this experience! Never studied at the local coffee shop? Pack your backpack and grab a sister! Your college town has been your home for 4 years and I promise you will miss it when you have to say goodbye. No matter where your college town is, there is something new to try! Adventure is out there…
- Build a new relationship: Take a newly initiated member out to lunch. There’s no stranger feeling than returning to your chapter as an alumna and only knowing half the members. Get to know the members in the newest class so you have someone to come back to in a few years!
- Be thankful for sisterhood: The women that you have met through your membership in Alpha Chi Omega will be your sisters for the rest of your life. You will never find women who will love, support, and challenge you like your Alpha Chi Omega sisters will. Take time over the next month to maintain these relationships! Send a letter to a sister you are grateful for, catch up with a sister you have not hung out with in a while or go on an adventure with a group of sisters (see challenge #2).
- Leave a legacy: Your time in the chapter may be coming to an end but you still have time to make a positive impact; I challenge you to leave a legacy that will be talked about for years to come. Be the senior member the rest of the chapter looks up to because you enjoyed a full four-year experience and filled your chapter with love, unselfishness and sincerity.
The best part about wrapping up this journey is what lies ahead. I cannot wait to find my next role to continue being a part of the incredible work that Alpha Chi Omega does. Graduating seniors, my last challenge for you is to find your next journey in Alpha Chi. Whether it is joining an alumnae chapter, supporting a chapter in an advisory board position, or finding a volunteer role; I challenge you all to continue to seek the heights with Alpha Chi Omega!
So, here’s to finishing our last semester together; may it be full of sisterhood, adventure and – if you’re anything like me – lots and lots of coffee!
Lynette Wert, Psi
REAL: “Real” used to be defined by a fancy French word: raison d’être (“reason for being”). Now we sign up for symposiums teaching “Getting to Real” and drop catchphrases such as, “Get real, man!” “Real” simply represents the operating principles that guide one’s life. Everyone develops a philosophy, even if it is never stated in words.
We go through the years improvising, starring in our individual, unscripted, 24/7 reality shows. No rewinds. No retakes. Plenty of bloopers. Normal life? Life as usual? Never happens! Staying true to personal internal principles is the only preparation for tomorrow’s always-surprising segment of our life script.
Some believe machines may improve our reason for being through artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality. We hope accessing quantum computing, acquiring fancier phones, using faster joysticks and wearing alternative vision glasses will make us smarter and happier. A better reality or just busier? Real gets confused with more. Real becomes obscured in the search for more “likes,” more stuff, more Botox!
The passing years have tuned my internal VCR to fast forward. Focus has shifted from temporary (more) to permanent (real). What time I fold the laundry won’t matter. The basket will just sit there. Visiting my friend in the hospital today will matter. She will feel better and I will feel better. Being real, for me, is now finite: knowing how to give and receive love and remembering when to laugh.
STRONG: First comes feeling safe and secure in one’s own skin, physically and emotionally. With that in place, an individual can proceed to confidence in self, which extends to compassion for others.
Three generations of AXO’s and a Little! (left to right.) Lynette Lemon Wert, Andrea Wert Ebeling, Christine Ebeling, and Jacqueline Hirlinger. Jacque- line was Christine’s “little” at Gamma Tau. Jacqueline is currently Gamma Tau president. Lynette and Andrea lived in the same Psi chapter house 25 years apart.
I was lucky to have strong women as ancestors. My grandmother married at 15 and had seven children—not surprising for 100 years ago. But then she finished high school, went to college, obtained her master’s degree and set up one of the nation’s first special education programs. Both my mother and mother-in-law set examples that strength meant mental toughness rather than physical brawn. Strong did not mean being the loudest or smartest person in the room (although sometimes they were both!).
Throughout my life, from my highest joys to my deepest devastations, those who arrived first, either to pop the champagne cork in celebration or to shed heartfelt tears in grief, were family, Alpha Chi sisters and a poet. My advice for good times and bad: Call your family, call your sisters and call a particularly good poet!
Real, strong qualities were revealed to me in Alpha Chi Omega by my big, Jane Thompson Garrett, and my little, Kay Husky Nida, during my college days in the Psi chapter. In my academic career at the university, I was mentored by Shakespeare scholar Dr. Shelley Rutherford and author and artist-in-residence Marilyn Harris Springer. As we became friends, we discovered the three of us had much in common as working writers, working mothers and Alpha Chi Omegas.
I believe every workplace is enhanced by women’s creativity. In professions from arts to zookeeper, it is invaluable to have like-minded, strong women as friends, colleagues and mutual supporters.
Lynette Lemon Wert with granddaughter Christine Noel Ebeling at Gamma Tau initiation 2013.
Women & Wisdom is not only a great use of alliteration, but also an organic, fortunate pairing of words. All of us are ultimately self-educated, helped partly by institutions and mostly by experience. A trusted guiding hand at home, in college or in our careers is often the crucial nudge forward on the path to our dreams. Mentors post the signs that point the way to success. Alpha Chi Omega’s Women & Wisdom program promises benefits both ways. After all, which brings the greater reward: finding a helping hand or being one?
Supporting the Foundation is an outgrowth of my dad’s forthright financial advice: “Money is a good thing, so spend some, save some and use some to do good.” The Foundation is a way to pass it on by building a bridge linking past knowledge to future endeavors. Those who will join Alpha Chi Omega in coming years will undoubtedly expand the definitions of education, enhancement and empowerment, and the Foundation’s resources will be there to help them.
Besides the thrill of having three generations of Alpha Chi Omegas currently in my family, I trust in the overall Panhellenic concept of fraternity. Finding a community of women with compatible goals allows for expanding opportunities for all, both on campus and in the community. I have been privileged to serve as a chapter recruitment chairman, a member of the alumnae house corporation and president of Oklahoma City Panhellenic. Fraternity life has offered me an opportunity to participate all the way from happy collegian to hurried carpooler to corporate exec to crafty grandma!
In 1956, my goal as a freshman was remarkably shallow. I wanted to join a sorority—any sorority! I was impressed that the Psi chapter had a high grade point average. The house had the same turquoise carpet and Community silver-plate pattern my family used at home, so I felt at ease. How fortunate that I followed the lead of my three best friends and pledged Alpha Chi Omega. Through the years, the chapter GPA varied. The house corporation changed the carpet and silverware many times. But after 60 years, I’m grateful that my best friends are still my best friends and Alpha Chi Omegas—real, strong, loyal, wise women.