Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega
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10 Ways We Celebrated Hera Day

Sisters across the country celebrated Hera Day by bringing happiness to others in their communities. Here are 10 ways chapters from Utah to Florida spread happiness and well-being to others earlier this month:

1. Alpha Chis at William Woods painted nails of residents at Fulton Nursing home.

A photo posted by Alpha Chi Omega (@axo_wwu) on


2. Chapter members at William and Mary volunteered at the Heritage Humane Society.

A photo posted by William & Mary ??O (@axo_wm) on

 

3. Utah State University had fun brightening the day of Legacy House residents.

A photo posted by McKenzie (@kenziegunter) on

 

4. Indiana State Alpha Chis served food at the Haute Light House Mission.

In honor of Hera Day our sisters volunteered to serve food at the Terre Haute Light House Mission! What a great way to spend Hera Day!! #heraday #axo #litb

A photo posted by Alpha Chi Omega (@isu_alphachiomega) on

 

5. Sisters from UNC Chapel Hill made cards for patients at the Duke Children’s Hospital.

Our VP Recruitment Kelly is delivering the cards we made for pediatric patients at Duke Children’s Hospital! #axounc #heraday #misscc

A photo posted by Alpha Chi Omega | UNC-CH (@achio_unc) on

 

6. Oregon State members added some cheer to everyone’s day by handing out red carnations on campus.

A photo posted by Alpha Chi Omega at OSU? (@oregonstate_axo) on

 

7. Western Michigan Alpha Chis wrote letters to hospital patients.

 

8. Sisters from Purdue wrote letters to volunteers of Court appointed Special Advocates (CASA) thanking for their service to their community.

 

9. Arizona Alpha Chis made blankets for a local children’s hospital.

A photo posted by Cayden Kuhler (@_ckuhl) on

 

10. The Arlington, TX Alumnae Chapter Delta Eta Delta, built 28 bears to give to kids staying at a local shelter.

 

Did you celebrate Hera Day? Let us know by posting a comment!

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I Owe This Year to my Sisters

Shawnna SmithBy Shawnna Smith
Epsilon Theta, Sacremento State University

Being my age and traveling frequently, I am often asked by the person sitting in the middle seat (because I always gets the window as a professional traveler), “Are you traveling back to school?” To which I reply, “No I am traveling for business. I already graduated.” The shocked look on most people’s faces isn’t even close to the look I get when I have to explain what I do. “Yes, I travel and work for my sorority,” I say, and a blank stare is what I get. Followed by, “What exactly is your job then? Do you like it? Isn’t that hard to travel all the time?” (They’re already labeling me crazy.) At this point, I am used to the naïve questions and I usually answer with, “being on the road isn’t the easiest lifestyle, but working for an organization I believe in and meeting so many wonderful women really makes up for the hard parts.” I put my headphones in and pass out on my neck pillow. As cliché as my answer sounds, it is the truth. I can honestly say I owe my year as a consultant to my sisters.

I began my chapter consultant journey in May of last year, and I cannot believe how fast time flies. Being a road warrior has been a life-changing experience. As a chapter consultant, I have been fortunate enough to travel to 11 states— yes, I said 11, and 18 chapters. Through all of the packing of luggage, trying new foods, experiencing new weather conditions (ouch! snow really hurts) and seeing new schools, it is the chapter members and alumnae who have truly made this year unforgettable for me. In addition to the hugs and gifts I receive at each new chapter, I have gained so much more from the hundreds of Alpha Chis I have met on the road. I have had deep talks with sisters and learned about their lives, each time being inspired a little more. I have had great lunch dates with chapter advisors and province collegiate chairs, who let me relax a little on my rougher days. The countless recruitment practices, sisterhood events and dance routines I have watched have helped me see the goofy side of members. It is then that I fall in love with the uniqueness of each woman I meet.

But at the end of each week, I have to say goodbye. And that is the hardest part. I can tell you cool things about each state and city, but the greatest things I have to say are always about the women I meet! The reason I never want to leave a new city is because of them. There is no better feeling than when chapters beg me not to go, and text me not only when they need help but also to just talk and continue my relationship with them after I am gone (hint hint follow me on Instagram @loyallyshawnna)! I love seeing the successes of these great women and I am so proud as I watch them continue to grow.

So, to the airport strangers, I do not care if you don’t understand my job. I care about the sisters I meet, the sisters I help, those who help me and the memories I have with them. This year as a consultant has been challenging at times; being on the road constantly isn’t always easy. But, it all vanishes every time I meet more Alpha Chi women who impact my life. I have gained so many new relationships that will continue long after this job. When I said this year has been life-changing, I meant it, so I am going to say it again: I owe this year to you, sisters!

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Worlds Apart

Jo_and_Mishalle  by FIU Resident Consultants
Jo Garcia (left) Zeta Eta, Bradley University and
Mishalle Marszalek (right) Epsilon Theta, California State University – Sacramento

As we hit the season of NPC Extension presentations, we are coming up on the one-year anniversary of presenting at Florida International University. Looking back over the past year, one of Alpha Chi Omega’s newest chapters has built their roots in the fast paced, diverse and beautiful city of Miami, Florida! Mishalle Marszalek received the amazing opportunity of being the consultant representative at this extension presentation. Once Alpha Chi Omega was selected, Mishalle was joined by Jo Garcia to make one dynamic team of consultants to lead the women of the Kappa Upsilon chapter. These women are a melting pot representing first generation college students, as well as first generation Greek women. This chapter has women whose families come from Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia and many other countries of paradise. These sisters are some of the most genuine, driven and motivated women who work hard everyday to make a change in the world.

Florida International University prides itself on being worlds ahead, and these women strive for nothing else. The founding class has set the foundation and traditions that our spring new member class is already getting the benefit of being apart of. Miami is a culture all it’s own! We knew from the very beginning Alpha Chi needed a home here in Miami. It wasn’t just being minutes away from South Beach, where it feels like summer every day of the year and where you can find the bluest water around. It was about joining a community that feels more like a family. Another component to the culture we were not warned about was Miami’s infamous hello and goodbye kiss! Whether you’re a friend, a sister, an advisor or a stranger, you’ve got a kiss on the cheek waiting for you. Everyone on FIU’s campus made not only the consultants but also the new sisters of Alpha Chi Omega feel welcome.

Exciting things have been happening at Florida International University this year. The campus is in a period of quick and rapid growth; it was ranked the fourth largest public university, with over 54,000 students. FIU was also home to the Miss Universe pageant this past January, and even welcomed the President of the United States this past week! That’s right, President Barack Obama held a town hall meeting on immigration, organized by Telemundo and MSNBC, right here on campus. Florida International University is home to students who are movers and shakers, and Alpha Chi Omega is honored to provide a home to these real, strong women. Whether our women spend their Saturday morning with women and children who are domestic violence survivors, providing them with a meal and a family portrait they can have with them in their time of transition, or raising $15,000 with the brothers of Sigma Chi during Derby Days for the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, the women of the Kappa Upsilon chapter of Alpha Chi Omega pride themselves on being worlds ahead.

As the world around us is constantly changing and growing, Alpha Chi Omega will be on the forefront with sisters like those from Florida International University. All it takes to begin to be worlds ahead is recognizing the potential in those around you, and encouraging them to be the best version of themselves – even if they come from a different background, culture or country. The sisters here in Miami are leading the change every day through sisterhood, philanthropy and academic achievements. We have had the best year growing and learning from these sisters and the culture around them. While these women are a part of building a new chapter and legacy of Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Chi Omega is, in turn, helping each one of them become contributing members of society; leading the change they want to see around them by being worlds ahead.

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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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