The Gift of Alumna Initiation
by Jen Fillo
(Kappa Nu, Carnegie Mellon University)
Every alumna initiate I meet has her own special story: a woman who had to quit college to raise her family, a mother getting to share the bond of sisterhood with her daughter, or a woman finally being initiated into the chapter she pledged 35 years ago. Each story is special, and I am privileged to be a small part of every one of them as an alumna educator.
However, my role in the stories of two particular women this spring holds special meaning for me. This past April, I had the pleasure to educate and initiate two wonderful women into my own chapter. I was very familiar with one of them; Holly Hippensteel has been a staff member at Carnegie Mellon for many years. In her former position as the Director of Student Life, she had worked and interacted with many Alpha Chi’s, including myself. It’s a pleasure to be able to now call such a wonderful woman, who has been such a great ally and resource for the chapter over the years, our sister.
Whereas I had never met Becca Allison prior to initiation, we also shared a special connection. As a sophomore in college, I joined an independent local sorority at CMU called Zeta Psi Sigma. At the time, the chapter was already in the process of seeking out a national organization with which to affiliate. That organization ended up being Alpha Chi Omega. At the chapter installation in 2006, and at various chapters across the country for the past six years, members of Zeta Psi Sigma have become members of Alpha Chi Omega. As an alumna of Zeta, Becca was finally able to join Alpha Chi Omega, and I am so glad I was able to prepare her for it and take part in the initiation ceremony. We now share the special bond of two sisterhoods.
When I first applied to be an alumna educator, I didn’t think about all the amazing women I would get to meet in the process. I just thought I had the knowledge necessary to do the job and that I wanted to support the program. I thought about how volunteering my time would help other women, but I never realized the impact it would have on me. I never realized that it would give me the opportunity to stand in the basement of my chapter’s brand new house, with 60 more members than when I was in the chapter, and take part in the initiation of two wonderful additions to not just my own chapter, but Alpha Chi Omega as a whole.
I look forward to continuing to meet and educate real, strong women about Alpha Chi Omega in my role as an alumna educator. However, this particular experience with Holly and Becca will always stand out to me.