Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega
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How Our Sisters Celebrate

MacDowell1Happy MacDowell Month!

February is the time of year that Alpha Chis celebrate the arts. Our heritage is deeply connected to the arts: our seven founders were all musicians and our first philanthropic project was supporting the MacDowell Colony.

We wondered: how are our sisters celebrating MacDowell Month?

Here are some of the responses we got from collegiate and alumnae members:

The Nashville Alumnae Chapter will be hosting a craft day with Zeta Omicron!
Bridget Gorta, Epsilon Phi

Studying Art Education at Missouri State University! Also plan on visiting Crystal Bridges in Arkansas on Valentine’s Day.
Erin O’Sullivan, Zeta Sigma

I’ve got 2 little girls starting rehearsals for The Ugly Duckling ballet. And I’m starting to learn how to paint.
Karen Carter, Zeta Nu

Off to the Metropolitan Opera next week! We will be attending two performances at The Metropolitan Opera: Iolanta / Bluebeard’s Castle (double bill) and Don Giovanni!
Susan Esco Chandler and Susan Chandler, Psi

The Tulsa alumnae club is touring the downtown Brady Arts District and eating Mediterranean together on Saturday.
Bethany Wood, Gamma Epsilon

AXO UCLA at the LA County Museum of Art

AXO UCLA at the LAC Museum of Art

The Alpha Omega Alpha Alumnae chapter is hosting a Painting with a Twist sisterhood event!
Kelly Cardova, Zeta Rho

I’m taking a painting class!
Jacilyn Kennedy, Gamma Tau

The OKC Rho Rho Alumnae Chapter will celebrate MacDowell Month at the Oklahoma Art Museum. We will be having drinks and appetizers at the cafe and enjoying their “Fakes & Forgeries in the Art World” exhibit!
Samara Terrill, Gamma Tau

 I will be volunteering and attending “A Needlepoint Love Story: Chapter 2″ at Fort Worth’s Thistle Hill Mansion (February 25 – March 1).
Christine Borand, Zeta Nu

On our Facebook page, virtual chapter Pi Omega Pi has been listing something weekly pertaining to appreciation of the fine arts, such as: a link to lyre music or artwork featuring lyres, carnations etc., along with something about the artists of each piece.
Carol Lutz, Epsilon Chi

…and Lee Anne Romberg White of Tau chapter is doing a special project:
I have decided to celebrate MacDowell Month by sharing the work of women artists through posts on facebook, twitter, tumblr and Pinterest. Please feel free to follow along and to share your own work with me @leeannewhite.MacDowell3

It doesn’t stop there; you can view some great photos of sisters painting, at concerts or at the theatre on Instagram.

Whatever you decided to do, we hope you had fun celebrating our artistic heritage and MacDowell Month!

Loyally, The Ritual Specialist Team

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Applying Ritual to Career Success

batenchuk

By Melanie Batenchuk for Coffee with Celia
(Epsilon Tau, Virginia Tech and Epsilon Chi, UNC Chapel Hill)

Four years ago, I wrote about my unique experience with Alpha Chi at two different universities. My time as an Alpha Chi left a lasting impression, and I believe I carry with me in my day-to-day life the tenets of the organization.

There are countless examples of successful Alpha Chis sprinkled across the country – take former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and successful TV chef personality Melissa D’Arabia, for example. The women who make up this fraternal sisterhood are united by one common thread – the desire to seek new heights.

So, how do we become successful as individual parts that make up the greater whole? Where can we apply the values instilled in us through Alpha Chi Omega to develop both personally and professionally?

I focus a lot on branding in my daily life, often speaking to young professionals and graduate students about the importance of developing an online persona that is the best representation of themselves – and one that aligns with their long-term life goals. But today, I’d like to focus on obtaining career success by revisiting our core values as a sisterhood. Repurposing a few of our ritual themes, I’ve put together some tips to guide the development of your professional brand.

Applying Ritual to Career Success & Your Professional Brand

Wisdom – In today’s always-connected atmosphere, wisdom is better translated as discernment, such as the choice not to post your college sorority party photos (not that you would have any of those!) to your publicly accessible Facebook page.

TIP:  Use discretion! If you don’t want to read or see what you’ve shared on the front page of the newspaper, then maybe it should stay out of public view altogether.

Devotion – The job market is vastly different today than it was when our parents were committed to their lifelong jobs at one or two companies. Today, Generation Y and the Millennials could not imagine staying in a job for 20 or 40 years. The environment for young professionals today is far more competitive with little long-term security. We must each be our own champions, our own brand ambassadors.

TIP:  Stick it out! If you make a written or verbal commitment to your employer to stick it out through a certain project or a time limit, then honor that commitment. You never know what type of opportunity lies just on the other side of that seemingly impossible-to-overcome challenge. Also, you’ll feel more rewarded in the end for having seen it through.

In a world where it’s acceptable to job hop, I can’t express how important it is to stick it out when you first really want to give up on that job. This is a tough lesson I’ve learned at a few points in my career. I became impatient, thinking there was nothing more for me to accomplish, but the truth is that I probably missed out on something valuable.

Achievement – Goal is a four-letter word. Do you have a goal? Do you have a dream job or important cause that’s near and dear to your heart?

TIP:  Set realistic, achievable goals that you can measure on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. What is your ultimate goal? Break it down into smaller, achievable goals, and then break it down even further into actionable steps. What steps will it take to work toward or achieve that goal? Also, achievement is not just about what you can do for you, it’s about how you can help better an organization, a team, a colleague or even a stranger.

The Symphony of Alpha Chi – In order to make music and to sound beautiful, a symphony must have balance. An orchestra must work together for one common goal. Like an orchestra, your actions and career steps must align with your overall goals. If not, it’s like an orchestra missing an entire section – it’s incomplete.

TIP:  Identify your passions and skills. Determine what it is that you love to do. What topic or issue area do you know more about than your peers? What area do they look to you for advice? There could be a hidden passion right in front of you!

What other lessons from your time as an active Alpha Chi Omega member would you apply to career success? I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments!

About the Author:  Melanie Batenchuk is Chief of Operations and Brand Management at Scope Group, a boutique IT recruiting firm founded in 2011. She enjoys mentoring young professionals, helping them identify their life’s passions and teaching them how to build and manage an online brand. In true AXΩ fashion, Melanie gets her ‘me time’ in by playing violin with the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia. Feel free to reach out to Melanie personally on Linkedin or Twitter.

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A Chapter in Our History

nicole_and_lisaBy Nicole Del Mauro; Iota Phi, Quinnipiac University and Lisa Roane; Delta, Allegheny College
Resident Consultants, University of Connecticut

People are always so intrigued to hear exactly what goes into founding a new chapter of Alpha Chi Omega. Plus, with all the excitement of starting a new chapter of Alpha Chi Omega at Loyola Marymount University, there’s even more buzz.  Whether it’s a sister, a family member or a stranger we meet on a plane, no one truly understands what exactly we do. The process is such a fulfilling one that we wanted to take this opportunity to share and for people to understand what happens. For you to truly understand the process, we are taking you back to last April when everything started for us.

First, Alpha Chi Omega was invited to start a new chapter at the University of Connecticut. Then – our favorite part of course – we were hired! We moved to Connecticut and started to understand and get to know the UConn community.  After the formal recruitment process for the other sororities, we began our three-week marketing period, which included two recruitment events and a week of interviews with national Alpha Chi Omega volunteers to help choose the perfect founding members.

Then, after three weeks of long and tiring nights, it was time to celebrate and watch all our hard work come to fruition on Bid Day by welcoming so many amazing women into our sisterhood! Now the real work began…

The new member period was packed with a new member retreat, sisterhood events, officer elections and everyone’s favorite – twin reveal. Because everyone is in the same new member class, instead of getting a big sister to serve as a mentor, founding members get twins! This is a great way for members to immediately have a special bond with someone in the chapter. Watching members scream, jump and hug as they found out who their twins were was one of the most rewarding aspects of this job.

Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for came to life: initiation! The founding members were so excited to learn the Ritual of Alpha Chi Omega and to officially be part of such an amazing bond. Watching 154 members receive their badges is a moment that we both can agree we will never forget. The celebration continued the following night when National Vice Presidents Jennifer Daurora and Mary Baker installed the University of Connecticut colony as the Kappa Tau chapter of Alpha Chi Omega. With members, friends, family members and UConn Fraternity and Sorority Life staff in attendance, this was definitely a night to remember.

The past semester has been one that neither of us will ever forget. From building strong relationships to mentoring collegiate women and having the time of our lives while doing so, we both feel so lucky to have helped make Alpha Chi Omega history. And now, we cannot wait for this chapter to continue to seek the heights!

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Return in Investment

Rachel Haley - web  By Rachel Haley, Omicron, Baker University

In my three years as a collegian, my Alpha Chi Omega journey has been touched in many ways by the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation. I first witnessed the Foundation’s efforts in action when I watched the launch of the For Now/ Forever campaign at the 2012 National Convention, which has since grown to be the single largest campaign in NPC history. Such generous giving from our members has provided my chapter, along with all chapters across the country, with educational programs such as MyJourney, ASTP, InTune and REPRESENT. These programs have enriched my collegiate experience and motivated me to seek leadership opportunities within my chapter and on my campus.

In 2013, I was selected to participate in Alpha Chi Omega’s second Global Service Initiative trip to Jamaica. For the GSI, the Foundation funded the education sessions my sisters and I engaged in throughout the service week. The twelve of us, all from varying chapters, grew together as we were educated on the true definition of service and volunteer work in a developing nation. Most recently, the Foundation has assisted me in my educational pursuits and aspirations by awarding me with a scholarship to ease my academic expenses.

Now, serving as a student trustee for the Foundation Board of Trustees, I am able to return all that Alpha Chi Omega has invested in me as a member. I have been able to learn from accomplished alumnae on the board and collaborate with other student trustees who share the same passion I do in advancing our organization. But mostly, I have learned to value the beauty of giving –of time and funds. No amount is too small to make a lasting impact on another individual – this is something I know I will always remember from my experiences on the board and will carry with me in philanthropic efforts beyond college.

Being a student trustee has without a doubt been the single most rewarding opportunity for me as an Alpha Chi because it has allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for our sisterhood and, in doing so, promote investing in the future generations of Alpha Chi Omega for now, and forever.

___________________________________________________________
Applications for the four student trustee positions are due March 31, 2015.
Questions? Email Katie Sherrill or call 317-579-5050.

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What I Will Take From My Year on the Road

Emily_RoseBy Emily Rose Jacobsen
Iota Chi, Middle Tennessee State University

Inside of six months on the road I have encountered roughly 1,500 chapter members in five states who want to make an impact and leave a legacy in their chapters. The determination of our chapter members never ceases to amaze me. Conversations with these women have been important to creating the right chapter experience. However, when the time comes for me to leave my role as a consultant I am confident there are many other takeaways that, although may not have a place on my resume, will certainly have a place in my heart.

Some of my favorite moments on the road have been the times I spent with chapter members outside of officer meetings just talking. I have talked to women who I am certain will make a huge impact on their campuses, in their field and on the people who are lucky enough to meet them. Taking the time to talk to the women around me, even if I am a little tired or have work to do, is worth every last minute. I am a more patient, positive and adventurous person because of the opportunity to work with chapter members that radiate kindness, openness and optimism.

Another of my favorite experiences on the road is being in the chapter houses and hearing a series of knocks on the door usually followed with, “Emily Rose…?” The unknown of the conversation to unfold excites me. Sometimes it’s a chapter member who needs my help, wants to share something exciting – that may or may not have anything to do with Alpha Chi Omega – or just wants to see what I’m doing. These moments are the best in sisterhood. I get to play the role of consultant, mentor, friend and sister. Watching an officer take charge to solve a problem, sitting in my room talking about the day and giving hugs to chapter members who I am sad to leave are some of the most memorable parts of chapter visits.

As a consultant, there is much to be gained: new skills, knowledge of travel and experience working in the real world. I am lucky to have a job that makes me feel like I leave an impact. However, I know the impact our organization has on me is far greater. Alumnae volunteers have taught me the value of building and uplifting those who will come after us to continue an organization of integrity and high character. Collegiate members have shown me that innovation and teamwork are the tools we have to use in our pursuit to seeking the heights. I will take with me a new appreciation of Alpha Chi Omega because of the chapter members who have helped me grow as a person, sister and consultant.

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New Year’s Challenge

Molly By Molly Schuneman
Sigma, University of Iowa

As we ring in the new year and a new semester, I find myself thinking about the amazing opportunities that were presented to me in the previous year. I have been unbelievably blessed to have graduated from the University of Iowa and landed the job of my dreams as a chapter consultant. What I don’t always remember to think about is all of the people who helped make that happen.

I recently read a blog post by T.J. Sullivan, a student leadership guru who I really admire, called “The thank-you challenge.” His blog post is about taking the time and writing a handwritten note to those people who have helped you throughout your life or taking the time to thank those people who help you on a daily basis and who you know may not often receive thanks. T.J. notes in his blog that people are more likely to appreciate and save a handwritten thank-you note than they are an email or a Facebook post. This blog post really inspired me to take action and thank those people who helped me accomplish everything that I did this last year, and I want to share it with you!

Here is MY challenge! Find a package of super cute thank-you cards at your local Target and get writing! Time is ticking and if you are as blessed as I have been this past year, you have so many thank-you notes to write.

As a collegian, you could write to those people who helped you last semester: the professor who worked hard to make class enjoyable, your mentor who wrote you a stellar recommendation letter for graduate school or the friend in your really difficult class who stayed up late studying with you to make sure that you understood the concepts.  As alumni, you could write to the barista at Starbucks who greets you with a smile and a sincere “have a great day,” the co-worker who is always there to lend a helping hand or the Jazzercise instructor who really cares about your well-being and inspires you to get in shape.

During recruitment last semester, I received two of the most beautiful thank you notes from sisters in the chapter with whom I was working. The notes expressed that they were thankful for everything I was helping them with as a consultant and that my hard work was not going unnoticed. No one made them write those notes. They just wanted to thank me. I felt so appreciated and I know that I will save those notes for forever. Make someone feel as special as I felt when I received those two notes.

Even though it is important to thank the people who help us out in small ways, we cannot forget to thank those people who make a great impact on our lives. Surprise your mom and mail her a thank you note! Write a thank you to your best friend! Send grandma and grandpa a note as well! These are the people who have greatly shaped our lives and we often times forget to thank them. Now is your chance to really tell them how much you appreciate them.

Complete my challenge some time this new year and write a thank-you note to those people in your life who have helped you. It will make you feel good and in true Alpha Chi fashion you will definitely “shed the light of love and friendship” around you.

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Becoming a Real, Strong Woman

Jacilyn_KennedyBy Jacilyn Kennedy
Gamma Tau, Oklahoma City University

I still remember senior appreciation week; amidst tears, I told my chapter sisters, “Alpha Chi Omega has truly made me a real, strong woman.” As a nervous freshman I joined this organization, but I never could have imagined how much I would grow in my four short years as a collegian. I gained so many skills that I never would have been able to gain without the programming offered by Alpha Chi Omega and the encouragement of my sisters.

As I walked into Alpha Chi Omega headquarters for my first day of consultant training, I felt just like my freshman self. I was starting something completely new with another group of amazing sisters. I already thought I was a real, strong woman, but being a traveling consultant would teach me so much more.

I’ve grown to appreciate my own company. I am meeting so many amazing women, but a large portion of the time I am alone. This has allowed me to not only learn more about myself but also enjoy my own company. I can confidently explore a city, eat at a restaurant and travel alone. I am independent and strong. While friends and sisters add to my quality of life, I now know that the source of my comfort and happiness comes from myself.

I truly believe I can handle any situation. Traveling across the country, I have had my fair share of interesting situations and have had to adapt quickly. I have navigated through these situations, even surprising myself at times. I will never have all of the answers, but I know I have the skills to be able to tackle anything that comes my way.

I’ve learned it’s okay to fail. So many times we agonize over things trying to make them perfect, or we don’t try things because we are afraid to fail. I have failed throughout this journey, and I’ve seen sisters who also have failed, but I now know that failing is what teaches you how to succeed. I am better for trying and for making myself vulnerable. I might have failed, but I did more than those who didn’t try.

I view every situation as an opportunity to stretch, not break. We all experience tough times, and often think we can’t make it through. However, these situations are what teach us new things and allow us to grow. Instead of shutting down and becoming upset, I have learned to see how I am growing. We can make it through, and we will be better because of it.

Most importantly, I have learned that becoming a real, strong woman never ends. We will constantly be changing and adapting to situations, and a strong woman must grow and learn. A real woman not only helps others but also works to better herself. Becoming a real, strong woman is a lifelong journey. I thought I had arrived at my destination at the end of my collegiate career, but  I now know that I will continue growing throughout my life. Our tagline not only describes who we are, but who we are becoming.

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“To plant a garden, is to believe in tomorrow.”

Sami_HolleyBy Sami Holley
Gamma Rho, Texas Tech University

Last fall, I was given the opportunity to visit the University of Southern Mississippi for the very first time. Little did I know that just a year later, I would be making Southern my home and supporting 100+ women in planting their garden for future Alpha Chis.

Three National Council members, five chapter consultants, eight interview team members and more than 100 new Alpha Chi Omega sisters was all it took to change my life for ever. After 391 days of preparation, it was incredible to watch the Kappa Sigma chapter celebration unfold. While at Southern, I have been on a roller coaster, and with every turn and bump I have had my hands in the air to enjoy this beautiful ride. But, I have not been on this journey alone. I have been so honored with bright, smart, and passionate young women who trusted our Alpha Chi Omega colonization team and embarked on this incredible journey with me.

There is something special about watching new members during the initiation ceremony. Their eyes so big, full of happiness and joy—that is what makes my heart full. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the Ritual of Alpha Chi Omega, I get the chills. I see the possibilities of our sisterhood, the compassion towards others and the inspiration to truly seek the heights with the women around you. In the words of Kappa Sigma chapter president Nicolet Hopper, “Our founding members have taken the title of founding membership and are working together to craft their legacy.”

It seems like every day I am learning about hard work and dedication, as our members learn about every aspect of Alpha Chi Omega. They are dedicated to serving others and look for the beauty in their sisters daily. They are constantly writing their story.

I want to leave you with something beautiful from our instillation ceremony:

Now in this story, there are sure to be some scribbles and scratch-throughs, some white-outs and smears, but I am certain that the outcome will be beautiful, because each of you are beautiful. As we work together to write the opening chapter of our lifetime legacy, may we remember that it’s our story that will be the foundation for generations and generations of sisters to follow.Together, let us seek the heights.

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Giving Thanks for Alpha Chi Omega

Holly By Holly Thompson
Epsilon Lambda, University of Texas – Arlington

As Thanksgiving is upon us, it’s natural to reflect on our blessings and I cannot help but to think of one of the greatest blessings in my life: my decision to join Alpha Chi Omega. I was initiated in November 1997 at The University of Texas at Arlington, and am so thankful for the members of Epsilon Lambda chapter who extended a bid to me so that I may join their sisterhood. I can remember initiation well and looking back, now seventeen years after (which seems impossible!), I’m grateful to still have many of those sisters in my life as loyal friends.

As a new member I had heard sisters talking about this being a “lifetime commitment.” ­But I had no idea that Alpha Chi Omega would continue to bless me beyond my imagination after my collegiate years with unparalleled support, friendship and sisterhood.

As this is the season for thanksgiving, I have a few specific reasons to give thanks for this wonderful sisterhood:

I am grateful for Alpha Chi’s constant reminder to be a lifelong learner, to give back to others and to push myself to be the best person I can be. As a former educator (once a teacher, always a teacher) I understand the importance of modeling behavior to teach others. I owe a sincere gratitude to all those sisters who strive to be good examples of wise and devoted women, those seeking achievement in all their endeavors and inspiring women around them.

I am grateful for Alpha Chi’s volunteers who inspired me as a collegiate member. Volunteers, such as my sister Kara, have had a long lasting impact on my life.  Personally, I owe her a great deal of gratitude for seeing potential in me as a young collegiate officer and recommending me for an internship that opened the door to my professional world and future career. Her support and influence not only helped me but also many other Alpha Chis, who can share similar stories of ways Kara has inspired them to seek the heights. Kara’s devotion of twenty-plus years is such a gift for which all sisters can thank her.

I am grateful for the values Alpha Chi instilled in me; like wisdom, devotion, and achievement. I am blessed to have a sisterhood that shares my appreciation of the arts, encourages its members to cultivate themselves personally and professionally, and values the importance of academic interest and lifelong learning.

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Year on the Road: A Parents’ Perspective

Satterfield_FamilyBy Anna and John Satterfield

Parents of Alessia Satterfield, Xi, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

It was the spring semester of our daughter’s senior year at the University of Nebraska and as her parents, we were eagerly awaiting graduation. We were also anticipating Alessia’s career decision. There had been some discussion about law school, possibly graduate school or pursuing a job back on the East Coast.

Alessia had loved her sorority experience and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the opportunities that she had been given, the friends she made and her growth as a real, strong woman. However, we certainly didn’t see it coming when all of a sudden Alessia called about a “GREAT” job opportunity. We were extremely excited to hear what new opportunity had presented itself to Alessia, convinced there was a job waiting for her in Connecticut. Much to our surprise, she expressed a sincere desire to continue her work in the sorority as a national consultant. She spoke with such enthusiasm and passion that we felt it best to allow her to interview for this new job opportunity, the thought being that once she went to Indianapolis she would realize that the job was not for her. The interview came and went but the passion and enthusiasm grew. It became apparent that this opportunity was one that she did not want to miss.

In retrospect, as we talked about this decision we are not surprised that this is the conclusion that Alessia came to. She felt that it would provide her the greatest opportunity to expand her horizons, present the most complete challenge possible and further her growth into the woman she wanted to become. But more than that, the decision really ran into her blood. The history of this decision goes back many years, actually many generations. Her great-grandmother, grandmother and two aunts on the paternal side of her family were all Alpha Chi Omegas at the University of Nebraska.

Alessia grew up on the East Coast and thoroughly surprised us just four years prior by telling us she had made the decision to go to the University of Nebraska. Over the course of eight semesters her passion for UNL, and more importantly for the sisterhood of Alpha Chi Omega, grew exponentially. It was that passion that convinced her of the decision to pursue the job as a consultant. But as her parents we were still concerned: the hours, the travel, the overall commitment and the list of associated issues seemed endless. The more we discussed it, the more certain we were that it wasn’t the right decision. She should just come back to the East Coast where everything would be “easier.” Well, the easy path held no interest for Alessia, and her relentless pursuit of the dream to continue her work with Alpha Chi Omega absolutely wore us down. For every argument that we could propose her counter argument was stronger and more impassioned. Our only option was to relent and do our best to support the decision she had made.

We saw her head off in the summer of 2011 to Indianapolis for her initial training. We heard countless stories of the hard work that was required of each of the new consultants as they learned how to be leaders of real, strong women. The fall semester began and so did the travel and what seemed like endless trips from one university to another; a new airport, a different hotel or another “fire” to put out at a different chapter house. It was never easy, sometimes it was very difficult, but not once did we ever hear any doubt in our daughter’s voice about the decision she made, or the passion she felt about her job as a consultant for Alpha Chi Omega. As a matter of fact, we became more and more convinced that her decision to become a consultant was absolutely the right thing. Alessia’s growths personally, professionally and spiritually were apparent: we knew without a doubt that she could not have had a better opportunity as a new college graduate.

The year flew by and we could not have been more pleased with all the experiences our daughter had encountered. We honestly believe that her time as a consultant was invaluable and the opportunities she has in front of her today would have never been possible if it wasn’t for her “year on the road.”

With Heartfelt thanks for the sisterhood of Alpha Chi Omega most sincerely,

Anna and John Satterfield

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