Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega
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What I’m Taking with Me

web_Alexa_GatesBy: Alexa Gates
Gamma Mu, Ball State University
Resident – Western Oregon University

This is a bittersweet but exciting time of year for many Alpha Chi Omega sisters. Graduations, Halls of Commitment, new beginnings and some endings tend to take place as the weather turns warmer and we approach the summer months. Two years and two coasts after I accepted this position, my time as an Alpha Chi Omega chapter consultant has come to an end.

It is absolutely startling how fast the time has gone, and I am learning that life doesn’t slow down from here on out. The goal I had since I was 19, to be a consultant, has reached its crescendo at 24. As I reflect back on how much I have accomplished, how my life has been enriched and how much I have developed, I cannot help but credit Alpha Chi Omega. So here, in my last Consultant Chronicle, as the last consultant standing, I give you an abbreviated list of that which I credit Alpha Chi Omega:

1. The ability to enjoy my own company. From long weeks on the road to my year as the only consultant on my project in a small Oregon town, I have learned the skill and value in hanging out with myself. I have mastered the solo movie, solo dinner and solo hike. It also has shown me how valuable the time we have with others is. It has pushed me to be more present in the company of sisters, family and friends and to give them my full attention and appreciation, because I can always hang out with myself. I’m great company and I never have to compromise on what I want to eat for dinner.

2. The celebration of small wins (with myself and with others!). I used to have a hard time appreciating what I had accomplished. Alpha Chi has helped me see that some days your win is completing a huge project or resolving a conflict, and some days it’s folding your laundry. Whatever it is, it is healthy to give yourself a pat on the back for the big and small, to share with sisters why you are proud of YOU that day or to take yourself on a date to Nordstrom.

3. Changing a flat tire. Alpha Chi Omega has empowered me to deal with really hard, even daunting, situations calmly; to take a breath and smile at the good story you will have to tell later. It has also pushed me to ask for help, not because I am not smart or good enough, but rather because I am smart enough to know when I need help. Like when I flagged down a kind stranger who coached me through changing my flat tire on my way home from the airport one rainy afternoon (If you are reading this, Ken, shout-out to you).

4. Hustle. Not only working hard, but also finding the joy in the grind. Nothing makes me happier than a very productive day, and Alpha Chi Omega has shown me how much joy there is to be had in a job well done.

5. A sense of community. We all want to feel involved in something, that we matter to a group, that we are invested in something bigger than just ourselves. Alpha Chi Omega has not only helped me feel connected, but has also shown me how I can continue that connection and foster it in others. However I choose to stay connected with the Alpha Chi Omega community, whether it be through volunteering, advising, donating to the Foundation or attending our upcoming convention, I know I am making a difference in our sisterhood, and in the lives of our members.

I cannot wait to take what I have learned into my new career and new community. Having these skills as a result of my role with this amazing organization has empowered me to never stop pushing to be better, never stop learning and never stop seeking the heights. I couldn’t have asked for a better first job out of college, and I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing sisterhood.

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A Consultant Is Someone Who…

web_Molly_SchunemanBy Molly Schuneman
Sigma, University of Iowa
Nationwide Traveling Consultant

At the close of my second year serving as a chapter consultant, I have become nostalgic and often find myself daydreaming about the amount of fun I have had, the important lessons I have learned and the amazing people I have met along the way.

One of my favorite recruitment memories from the past year took place while I was at the Gamma Theta chapter at University of Maryland. During their preference ceremony, each sister who was hosting a potential new member went around the room and recited an “A sister is someone who…” statement that described a quality about the potential new member that they believed would make them a great Alpha Chi Omega. Many statements reflected the potential new member’s sense of humor, leadership ability and bright, positive personality. Every time they performed this during the preference ceremony, I couldn’t help but think of my consultant sisters.

The 2015-16 consultant class has been described as exceptional, inspiring, empowering and very caring, and I am proud to have been on this journey with them this year. This group of women boasted past chapter presidents, Panhellenic presidents, orientation leaders and campus tour guides, future doctors, student affairs professionals, teachers and business professionals. Each and every one of my consultant sisters embodied servant leadership and the values of Alpha Chi Omega in their work with our chapters this year.

Reflecting on the unique people in our consultant class, if I had to make “A sister is someone who…” statements about my consultant sisters, they would be as follows:

A consultant is someone who jumps at the chance to help anyone at any time.

A consultant is someone who makes anyone feel comfortable with her kindness and relatable personality.

A consultant is someone who always puts forth 100 percent during any task.

A consultant is someone who shows compassion and empathy.

A consultant is someone who is unapologetically herself.

A consultant is someone who has the gift of humor and knows how to make what may seem a “dire” situation lighter.

A consultant is someone who inspires other sisters to seek the heights

A consultant is someone who uses her other gifts and talents to supplement her consultant work.

A consultant is someone who is resilient.

A consultant is someone who radiates passion and joy in her life.

A consultant is someone who is meticulously organized and punctual.

A consultant is someone who takes smart, calculated risks.

A consultant is someone who has gumption.

A consultant is someone who epitomizes what it means to be an Alpha Chi Omega.

These women I was blessed to work with are the definition of support and strength when you need it; excitement when you have good news to share; a listening ear when you need to chat; a helping hand when you are in a bind; good advice and answers when asked for them; unforgettable jokes when you take life too seriously; encouragement when you hit a wall; a big warm hug when we reunite; and a loving sister to forever keep in your heart.

I know our chapters have grown and are better off because these women poured their hearts and souls into their work this year. My dream is that future consultants continue that legacy of excellence and love. I will never forget the friendship they shared with me, and I definitely know that we will be reconnecting every year for many years to come!

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How to Channel Your Fierce and Fabulous

web_Courtney_Igbo-OgbonnaBy: Courtney Igbo-Ogbonna
Delta Tau, Minnesota State University – Mankato
Resident Consultant, University of Connecticut

Within 10 minutes of meeting me, you will probably know these three things: I’m obsessed with the show Scandal, my ultimate goal in life is to be Oprah and I love Alpha Chi Omega (duh!). Some people may think these things are just random facts about me, but the things I choose to prioritize in my life all need to have certain qualities: enhance my life in some way, empower me to do better and, most importantly, channel my inner fierce and fabulous.

Let me explain what this actually means.

When I say fierce and fabulous, this is what I’m saying: to be fierce is to be intense, aggressive and powerful. Fabulous is to simply be extraordinary, amazingly good or wonderful. When you put those two traits together, you are now an unstoppable individual.

Now, going back to facts about me, I like Scandal because of Olivia Pope and how she demands the attention of the room whenever she is present. She is intelligent beyond belief, poised and elegant.

I aspire to be [like] Oprah because she is, in my opinion, a queen. She has successfully built her empire with her own two hands and, throughout all that, never let her success get the best of her. She remains humble, caring, philanthropic and independent; all qualities I admire.

Last but not least, my love for Alpha Chi Omega, an organization that builds up real, strong women. This sisterhood teaches humility and respect, and empowers young women with the tools to be independent leaders who can thrive in a world mostly dominated by men.

In short, Alpha Chi Omega teaches thousands of women across this nation how to be fierce and fabulous.

Here are three suggestions for how Alpha Chi Omega can really help you develop these qualities and become the best version of yourself:

  • Leave your legacy. In all that I do, I have a goal in mind to leave whatever it is I am doing with a precedent for achievement. This can be big or small, but I try to be someone people look up to and strive to emulate. This could be anything from being a big to being someone who always volunteers to table for your next philanthropy event, or coming back as an alumna to watch initiation or assist with recruitment efforts. Set a positive example because it will rarely go unnoticed.
  • Be diligent. If you want something, work for it. Never expect anything to be handed your way. If you want an A on your test, study. Running to be the next chapter president? Set goals higher than the standards, be kind to your sisters and really know the dynamic of your chapter. Want the internship or job you’re applying for? Do research on the company, prepare for the interview and dress for success. Sometimes you’re going to have to really put in the effort to get to where you want to be. Hopefully, you will have a pinch of luck to help you out every now and then, though!
  • Use failures as fuel. There have been times where I have come up short when reaching for my goals. But that was never a good enough reason to keep me down. Think of Oprah and where she started. She comes from a low–income background and has a complicated family history, but she never let her past define her future. Olivia Pope has had her fair share of failures, as well, from her dad single-handedly running her life, to having her own secrets be put out in the open. However, she always uses those realities to create a better solution in the end and always ends up victorious.

Is it a coincidence that back in 2012, I said yes to our sisterhood that totally embodies the two qualities I seek out in everything I do? Maybe. But nonetheless, I am so thankful that we crossed paths and I have been given the opportunity to further the love and success for our sisterhood all across the country. I truly do believe that this mindset can give you everything you want. In my short 23 years, I have accomplished just about everything on my list of to-dos while keeping myself focused. Find people or things to influence your life in a positive way, people to look up to, and set your goals at heights you may think are unobtainable. Do these things, and you’ll find your own fierce and fabulous in no time.

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The Little Moments

web_Lauren_CastilloBy Lauren Castillo
Alpha Psi, University of California – Los Angeles
Traveling Consultant

I adopted the phrase, “collect moments, not things” as my mantra to seek out once-in-a-lifetime adventures and opportunities. It became a guiding light when making decisions about things like what to do with my life or whether or not I really need another pair of sandals. Life on the road at a different campus, in a different state, where I have to adjust to a different time zone and climate every week has proved to me that moments and experiences are invaluable. That guiding phrase has not only proven to be truer than ever, but its meaning has also evolved. For me, “collect moments” has become the most important part of that quote. As a road warrior, I’ve learned that collecting the little moments in my everyday life is what ultimately ties together this entire journey because it’s the little moments that have made my experience on the road truly beautiful.

The little moments are what have kept me smiling each day whether I’m alone on an airplane or surrounded by a group of sisters, uncontrollably laughing after a fourteen-hour recruitment day. It’s being able to enjoy my morning coffee at the beach in California and experiencing life after a New York blizzard that very same night. It’s the pure excitement I’ve felt in the moment when a chapter welcomes home eighty new members into their sisterhood. It’s the warm fuzzy feeling in a hug from a collegian I’ve only worked with for a week, but feel like I’ve known for a lifetime. These are the moments in which I have found happiness.

Sometimes it has been the bittersweet moments that I’ve appreciated too, like when a visit has come to an end. It’s creating a special memory when my consultant sister and I can only laugh after enduring a three-hour cab line, as our toes turned numb. It’s also that sad, aching feeling when saying goodbye and realizing these could be some of the last moments I spend with sisters I’ve grown so close to in such a short period of time.

Being a chapter consultant has given me countless treasures in the form of moments with people I would have never met otherwise. I’m taken by surprise when I realize that the only reason my path has crossed with strangers, who have turned into some of my most genuine friends, is because I have the privilege of working for Alpha Chi Omega. It’s the daily encouragement from friends who live hundreds of miles away that has taught me to appreciate every little kindness.

The little moments strung together; the collection of people, places, relationships and emotions make up an experience of a lifetime. The moments I have collected as a chapter consultant are invaluable and are something I try to reflect on every day. I could go on naming these small moments as proof of my precious experience, but instead I’ll say it again, “collect moments, not things.” Because it is being able to appreciate every moment – little or big, happy or sad – that will make your life full and any common moment beautiful.

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What is your #bestpartofday?

web_Claire_EmmackBy: Claire Emmack
Gamma Mu, Ball State University
Traveling Consultant

About two years ago, I was driving back from Florida to Indiana with four of my Alpha Chi Omega sisters after one of my favorite spring break trips. Even though we were sad to leave sunny Florida, we were having fun reminiscing on the great times we had during the week and belting out the latest Top 40 hits. We were almost back to school when the car swerved off the road and took several rolls into a ditch. It was one of the scariest moments of my life, but I decided in the moments following the initial shock that this accident was not going to break me or bring me down. Instead, I would use it as a wake-up call and a chance to acknowledge something that I now live by, gratitude. While we all walked away from that accident with our various injuries, we all walked away, and I am forever grateful for that. From that day on, I decided that life is too short not to be thankful for every single moment that you are given.

Four months after the accident, I attended Alpha Chi Omega’s 58th National Convention and couldn’t help but pinch myself constantly because I was experiencing one of the best weekends of my life. It was the first time I was flying by myself, my first time being all-the-way across the country in California and the first time I really saw “big” Alpha Chi Omega. The word grateful kept coming to my mind throughout that weekend, which made me reflect on how many great opportunities and great experiences had come my way. I left convention thinking back to the day of the accident and how I wanted to live a life with a grateful heart. So I decided to take action. Since most of my life is documented on social media, I thought why not document my daily gratitude on social media as well? I took to Twitter every day and tweeted the best part of each of my days. I remember that my friends would get excited when they had something to do with my #bestpartofday and I remember lying in bed every night, reflecting on the day and sending out a tweet with my favorite memory. It was fun to look back at my tweets and see what had been the highlights of my days, weeks and months.

Fast-forward to present time and I still reflect on my day, but instead of tweeting it out to the public I write it down in my planner every night. I found that keeping my #bestpartofday to myself made it a little more meaningful, at least for me. I also am so much more of a pen-to-paper gal than a technology guru so writing it down just seemed more natural. I purchased a new planner this past summer in preparation for my job as a chapter consultant, and I found the perfect one. The planner I found had the normal space for day-to-day activities and to-do’s, but then at the bottom it also had a box titled, “Gratitude.” How appropriate, right? What a perfect place to put my #bestpartofday! So every day that I have been on the road, I have documented the best part of my day. Not every day has had an incredible “best part,” but then there are some days when it is hard to pick just one because so much greatness occurred in that 24 hours. Sometimes that box at the bottom of the page describes a really good donut I had and sometimes it describes welcoming home new members on a chapter’s bid day. Since every day doesn’t have this big moment, having the ability to capture and reflect on the little moments in life makes gratitude so easy. This goes perfectly with my favorite line of our symphony, “to see beauty even in the common things of life.”

As I said earlier, I no longer share these moments on a public social media platform, but I would like to share a handful of my #bestpartofday moments from my time as a consultant here. Like any true Ball State alumni, I will channel my inner David Letterman and give you a list of ten, in order by date:

  1. September 1, 2015 – “Someone thought Billhighway was a person named Bill, LOL!”
  2. September 12, 2015 – “Welcoming home the founding members of Florida Gulf Coast University!”
  3. September 15, 2015 – “Sitting on the Central Michigan house porch and people watching.”
  4. October 28, 2015 – “Sam Hunt concert downtown Nashville with a Vanderbilt sister.”
  5. November 19, 2015 – “Enthusiasm from the VP new member education in our meeting!”
  6. December 11, 2015 – “Pizza and personality tests with the consultant team at the Staybridge hotel.”
  7. January 25, 2016 – “Bachelor viewing party and crafting with sisters at Marquette.”
  8. February 2, 2016 – “Cook Out milkshakes and enjoying the sunny and 75° weather on the University of Tennessee Alpha Chi Omega porch.”
  9. March 10, 2016 – “Trying sushi for the first time in Iowa City with sisters.”
  10. March 19, 2016 – “Climbing to the top of the Hollywood sign with consultant sisters, Haleigh and Elizabeth.”

So what is your #bestpartofday? Even the worst of days have something special hidden in them and it is your job to figure it out. Living a life of gratitude makes for a rewarding life and one that is full of little moments that contribute to those grand moments. I challenge you to find the beauty in the common things today and every day. Don’t wait until a traumatic event like a car accident happens for you to start realizing that life is for living. Go live life to its absolute fullest, and go live it right now! Are you reading this halfway through the day and worried that you aren’t going to have a #bestpartofday? Go make one! Then write it down or tweet it out or simply just think about it before you go to bed. Seek the heights and seek gratitude because it is what keeps me so positive and happy, and I think it could do the same for you!

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Why I Chose a Career in Health Care

Tanya CaseBy Tanya Case
Alpha Gamma , University of New Mexico

For the past several years, many individuals have found themselves graduating from college but having difficulty finding a job. And in states whose economies have experienced a downturn because they are tied to the price of oil, it is even worse than ever.

A career in a health care profession is one that offers job stability and satisfaction. The stability is tied primarily to the aging of America’s baby boomers and their health care needs, and the satisfaction is centered around making a difference in people’s lives, but also the diversity of upward mobility.

A career in nursing can be very diverse. The location of our work can range from the bedside, a clinic and even your car should you choose to travel from home to home providing home health care or hospice care. Other nurses serve as case managers and assist individuals in navigating the vast health care system in order to meet their needs. Others may choose to work in public health as public health nurses dealing with everything from communicable-disease outbreaks to participating with other health care professionals in making sure that pregnant women receive prenatal care.

Recently, many nurses have chosen to pursue additional education to become an advanced practice nurse (APN). An APN is a registered nurse who has additional education and training in a specialty area. Certified nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives and certified nurse specialists are examples of advanced practice nurses. These nurses have a master’s degree in nursing, or a doctorate degree and board certification in their chosen specialty. Although some oversight is required by physicians, especially in regards to writing prescriptions for certain medications, advanced practice nurses function autonomously. Due to their advanced degrees and their responsibilities, these nurses are highly compensated.

For me personally, my master’s degree in nursing served as a foundation to move into the health policy and health insurance industry. Although a less common path for nurses, there are nurses who hold or have held top-level positions within the federal government, and a nurse currently serves as the CEO of a large, five-state insurance company in the Midwest. Although these types of positions have taken us away from direct patient care, we are impacting populations of people by the policy decisions we make on a daily basis. And, most importantly, as nurses we have never forgotten who is most important in every decision we make—the PATIENT.

If you would like to discuss a career in nursing, please email me at tanya@othrp.org.

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Lollipop Moments

April_PfeiferBy April Pfeifer
Alpha Lambda, University of Minnesota
Traveling Consultant

“How many of you guys have a lollipop moment? A moment where someone said something or did something that you feel fundamentally made your life better?” Drew Dudley asks this question in his 2010 Ted Talk, “Leading with Lollipops.”

When you are a part of a Greek organization, we all have lollipop moments that reassure us of our decision to join. I think this can be said for being a chapter consultant as well. This job is full of highs and lows, but it is those small moments that reaffirm why we do this job.

A couple weeks ago, I was able to visit the women of Delta Lambda. I had spent time with them back in January for recruitment so it was so special to be back with them for their initiation. The week was spent talking about Leo’s Oscar win, crafting for big/little reveal and laughing in the commons over meals. While all of these things filled me with joy, it was the night that I arrived in Wisconsin that stuck out to me.

My flight landed in Milwaukee at 11:15 on a Friday night. The chapter is about an hour and a half away from the airport so it isn’t the shortest drive to come and pick me up. On top of it all, it decided to snow upon my arrival and that area of the state was under a winter weather advisory. Something that collegians don’t always realize is how much we rely on them to get through each day, whether it’s for meals or transportation. I’m not one who likes to ask others to host me, so naturally I began to feel guilty about how my arrival was playing out and how I was inconveniencing the chapter. Yet despite the time, weather and road conditions, the chapter still managed to meet me at the airport with so much energy that it truly made me feel as if I were a sister of Delta Lambda.

Collegians only see the time you spend with them and don’t always know what’s emotionally going on behind the scenes. Because of this, the gestures are genuine and carry more meaning. To the women of Delta Lambda, thank you for giving me my lollipop moment at a time when I needed it most. You reminded me why I continue to do my job when the days get hard. It isn’t because I travel to a new location each week, it is because I am able to foster some of the most beautiful relationships with intelligent, witty and kind-hearted women who understand what sisterhood is.

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Student Trustee Perspectives

Each year, four collegians are selected to serve on the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation Board of Trustees. Student trustees have the opportunity to get involved with Alpha Chi Omega on a national level while serving as the voices for our collegiate membership.

We had the opportunity to sit down with this year’s student trustees to learn more about their experiences.

BOT_student_HollyPyper_web

Holly Pyper
Beta, Albion College

What made you interested in becoming a student trustee?

Holly Pyper: I wanted to become a student trustee because I wanted to get as much as I could out of my time as an undergraduate woman. I saw this position as a way to grow professionally and give back to our organization in a meaningful way. I didn’t realize that in addition to those benefits, I’d build deep friendships with women across the country.

Kelsey Montgomery: I was most interested in sharing the collegiate perspective with the Foundation board and being able to help chapters and officers with Foundation-related questions.

After applying to serve as a student trustee, what was the interview process like?

BOT_student_ElizabethKemins_web

Lizzie Kemins
Psi, University of Oklahoma

Lizzie Kemins: The interview process consisted of an application and an interview. I remember being nervous for the interview because I looked up the members of the board of trustees and seeing the prestigious women I would be speaking to, but on the phone it was just like a normal conversation. They made me feel very important and it was so cool to see that these women really cared what I had to say!

As a student trustee, you are the collegiate voice to the leaders of our Fraternity – your voice matters! I’m sure you’re busy with class, applying for jobs and figuring out life after college. What is the time commitment to serving as a student trustee?

Kelly Suntrup: The time commitment is about the same as serving in an executive board position. I previously served on the executive board for three years, so I was really excited to have something new but still related to Alpha Chi Omega to fill my time!

You’ve been doing this for a year; looking back, what have you learned from this experience?

Holly Pyper: Where should I begin? Getting an up-close understanding of how an organization functions is really enlightening. Beyond my new appreciation for Alpha Chi Omega, this understanding will prove helpful in almost any organization. Additionally, practicing communication skills in this unique setting is very helpful. It’s hard to sum up what I’ve learned because my supervisors have been really great at communicating with us, the student trustees, to see what we want to learn. Our projects grow and adapt depending on what we want to explore and learn next.

And looking into the future, what have you learned that will help you after graduation?

Kelsey Montgomery

Kelsey Montgomery
Iota Sigma, Southern Methodist University

Lizzie Kemins: Not everyone gets to say they were a board of trustees member at age 20, but I do. I now have experience seeing how a successful Foundation is run. I’ve gotten to learn the technical parts of a board that I never really thought about. I have also gotten to learn how to engage with people about donations. Most importantly to me, though, I’ve been exposed to alumnae who are successful and used their time as collegiate members to the fullest extent. As a senior in her last semester, that is priceless.

Kelsey Montgomery: One of my favorite memories as a student trustee was when I had the chance to attend the 2014 National Convention in Palm Desert, California. Attending convention in it of itself was amazing, but getting to know members of the Foundation Board of Trustees and the National Council was equally if not more impactful. These women are some of the truest examples of what being an Alpha Chi Omega is all about, and they graciously donate their time to make sure our organization is just as strong 20 years from now as it is today.

Kelly Suntrup Delta Chi, William Woods University

Kelly Suntrup
Delta Chi, William Woods University

Kelly Suntrup: My favorite memory so far was when some of the board of trustees members flew all the way to St. Louis to catch me up on what I missed at the first meeting. I really appreciated how important they made me feel.

With the application deadline approaching for the next group of student trustees, why should someone apply?

Holly: You should apply for this position because it’s an incredibly unique learning opportunity. Simply observing the function of the board of trustees is a great educational experience. However, it’s more than observation—actually participating in discussion and having your own projects makes the position even richer. Also, the connections and friendships you make will last a lifetime and certainly prove helpful in any walk of life. But most importantly, you’ll be doing meaningful work that gives back to your sisters and helps support our philanthropy. I’ve never felt so good about the work I’ve done and gotten so much from an experience before my time as a student trustee.

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Be Her Badge What It May

4-goldbadgeBy: Nancy Vance, Delta Chi Chapter
National Ritual Celebration Week 2016

Nancy Vance is the current Alpha Chi Omega delegate to the Dallas Area Panhellenic Association (DAPA). We asked her to reflect on her involvement with the Panhellenic community as we celebrate National Ritual Celebration Week with the entire Greek community.

“To see and appreciate all that is noble in another, be her badge what it may.

I recently revisited my 1973 membership manual and found in Chapter 5: Fraternity World an explanation of the National Panhellenic Conference. It includes illustrations of the 26 NPC member organizations’ badges, as well as The Panhellenic Creed. At 18 years old, it didn’t mean much because my involvement with Panhellenic didn’t begin until later in my life. Now, having served in the DAPA since 2010, the line from our Symphony above holds true and is my cornerstone.2-greenbadge

I first became involved in DAPA when I started writing recruitment references for my kids’ high school classmates. Greek women who were willing to help potential new members with their recruitment references were regularly called on to write letters for these young women. This led to me joining the local Alpha Chi Omega alumnae chapter and going through a recruitment of my own to serve on the DAPA board.

Today, I am proud to be part of DAPA, an 85-year-old organization of Greek women in the Dallas area  with 21 member sororities. We have mutual respect for each other and our values, and we uphold our objective of engaging in a deeper understanding among member fraternities while promoting community service and education.

As I prepare to assume the presidency of this group, I will continue to represent Alpha Chi Omega with pride as did my predecessors Mrs. Raymond Hawkins (1938-39); Mrs. Martha Hoopingarner (1955-56); Mrs. Marilyn Smith (1977-78); and Mrs. Donna Chereck (1996-97). DAPA upholds a long history of the power and strength of sisterhood that can only be achieved by seeing and appreciating all that is noble in each member, be her badge what it may.

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The Unexpected Gift

web_Ashley_WilliamsBy: Ashley Williams
Delta Zeta, Central Michigan University
Resident Consultant, IUPUI

Last week, after I returned home from a normal day on campus, I began my typical after-work routine: I set my things down, changed into comfortable clothes and started eating the Chipotle I picked up on my way home. Mid-bite I realized I had to make it down to the apartment office before it closed to pick up the packages I was expecting. However, among the usual mile-high stack of packages for apartment 152, was one I wasn’t expecting. I left it for last, after going through boxes of online purchases and the Valentine’s Day gift from my boyfriend. I hesitantly opened it, not knowing what could be inside. As soon as I saw the little bit of oatmeal colored sweater poking out behind the box flaps, I couldn’t help but become overcome with joy and excitement. It was the “Traveling Oatmeal Sweater” that my best Alpha Chi friends and I had started last semester. (Yes, just like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.) While all together over Halloween weekend last semester, we had the brilliant idea to send around the one sweater everyone borrowed while we were in college: Anna’s oatmeal colored sweater. Going from living together in 701 Main Street to living in three different states, the nine of us wanted something that would keep us connected, and this was the perfect solution!

As soon as I put the sweater on that night, I was overcome with a flood of my best college memories. As I reflected on what this sweater symbolized, I realized that the Alpha Chi Omega experience is like the traveling sweater that my friends and I exchange. Alpha Chi Omega is warm and comforting, it is a place where women can go to feel welcomed, accepted and comforted. Just as the sweater fits each of my friends and me, Alpha Chi Omega is an experience shared by all types of women at different stages of life, and connects friends and strangers alike through shared experiences, values and traditions. Alpha Chi Omega is a shared tradition, one that can be passed between women and span generations, offering unique, but always cherished, memories.

When I joined Alpha Chi Omega four years ago, I had no idea the journey I was about to embark on, and I certainly did not know I would be where I am today as a resident consultant at IUPUI. This experience was unexpected, just like the sweater in my stack of packages, but was exactly what I needed in my life – then and now.  As a consultant, I now have the opportunity to witness over 100 women begin their unexpectedly amazing journey as founding members at IUPUI. They have no idea the women they will become because of this experience, or the enriched lives they will have because of the support, experiences and traditions that Alpha Chi Omega will offer them for the rest of their lives. I hope that these women, too, experience the type of friendships and opportunities that I have been blessed with because of Alpha Chi Omega. I am confident that though this journey may have been unexpected for many of them, Alpha Chi Omega is now, and will always be, exactly what they need.

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