Happy MacDowell Month! Here are a few ways chapters celebrated the arts, their sisters who are involved in the arts and Alpha Chi Omega’s heritage as a fraternity for music majors at DePauw University.
Stetson University shared this photo of sisters who are musicians and in the Pep Band:
Chapter members from the University of South Carolina enjoyed a movie to celebrate MacDowell Month:
Sisters at Butler University put together a Spotify playlist of chapter members’ favorite songs:
Sisters from Bowling Green State University attended a Music Industry Club meeting earlier this month:
Sisters from University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill got together and created works of art:
Our chapter at Middle Tennessee State University is celebrating this month by featuring sisters who are involved in various forms of arts on their Instagram account:
Ball State University featured their sister, Katie who works at the campus museum, the David Owsley Museum of Art:
Sisters from Utah State enjoyed a night out at the theater:
Western Michigan University celebrated MacDowell Month by watching their sister perform at the Winter Gala.
What did you do to celebrate the arts this month? Post your photo on Instagram or share an update on Twitter with the hashtag #macdowellmonth.
By: 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.
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.
By Liz Ragland,Gamma Tau
MacDowell Month is my favorite time of year! The performance art has a special place in my heart: I grew up dancing, singing, and performing in school plays from age 3 to age 18. Although I am no longer as involved in the arts (does Zumba count?) I still love going to art museums, the opera, or seeing a new play.
I wanted to get to know some of our sisters who are involved in dance, theatre, art, and music so, to celebrate MacDowell Month on the blog this year, I’ll be profiling sisters in the arts. This first post features dancer/singer/actress Sarah Fagan and graphic designer/hand-letterer Gillian Tracey.
Spotlight Member: Sarah Fagan, Gamma Tau
How are you involved in the arts?
I am a professional dancer, singer, and actress in musical theatre. (Sarah is currently in the national tour of 42nd Street!)
How did you first get interested in your art form?
I took dance lessons from a very young age. I have always loved movie musicals and was lucky to see live theatre many times while I was growing up. As a dance major in college I saw even more shows and learned about dance in theatre, and realized I had a passion for musical theatre. I am lucky that I’m able to successfully apply my dance background to the musical theatre business, and that I enjoy singing and acting equally as much as dancing!
How do you “Strike on the lyre of the universe, only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace”?
I try to be focused, kind, calm, and supportive so I can spread positivity through any cast of performers I am a part of. When a cast is happy, unified, and having fun backstage it shows onstage. In turn when we give an inspired performance we have the chance to change someone for the better. At every performance, it’s exciting to think that I could turn someone’s bad day into a great day, or inspire someone to find and follow their passion.
What’s your favorite Alpha Chi moment/memory?
Definitely senior year Bid Day. I was VP recruitment two years in a row, and the feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction, and relief that washed over me when the new members ran to us that day really sums up my experience in Alpha Chi. There are so many moments I can think back to where my overwhelming feeling was “I have no idea how, but we did it, and did it well!” The exhilarating feeling of triumph runs through a majority of my most memorable Alpha Chi experiences, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. We often worked together to pull off big events that required huge amounts of time, energy, and willpower. The proud feeling I had when I got to watch or participate in the successful results of our hard work was my favorite part of Greek life.
Spotlight Member: Gillian Tracey, Delta Chi
How are you involved in the arts?
I’m a freelance graphic designer and hand-letterer.
How did you first get interested in your art form?
I’ve always loved art since I was a little kid, but when I started college I wanted to take my passion for creating and learn how to apply it in a practical way, which is how I came to study graphic design! After working for a few years at a magazine, I decided to take the leap into freelancing full-time where I could work one-on-one with small business owners.
How do you “Strike on the lyre of the universe, only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace”?
This line of the symphony acts like a thermostat for my business. Just as a thermostat maintains a particular temperature, this portion of the symphony helps me maintain the right mindset and approach situations in the best way possible.
While running a business is extremely gratifying and exciting, there’s a lot of unknown factors, major competition, and crippling comparison that can happen every single day. The symphony is an anthem for treating others with respect, encouraging and uplifting fellow creatives, and for reminding me that the hard work is worth the joy found in creating what I’m passionate about.
What’s your favorite Alpha Chi moment/memory?
There are so many incredible memories it’s hard to choose just one! While I was a collegiate member of Delta Chi, we all lived in the same house the whole time we were in school. Living across the hall from your best friends for years made for a lot of memories of piling on the sofa to watch rom-coms in pajamas, writing papers together, and getting ready for formals. It’s the simple everyday moments that make up my favorite and fondest memories.
By Corinne Wolfe
Zeta Eta, Bradley University
Most people only consider the big R when they hear the word ritual, our initiation ceremony. It’s the “event” that supposedly defines us as Alpha Chi Omegas, and to an extent that is true. Without that beacon, we don’t always know where to point our Alpha Chi compass. It’s what makes us unique, the embodiment of our name, defines our bond, etc.
I, on the other hand, often consider ritual to be mostly made up of the little r; the one that resonates in my day to day life and seeps into my being whether it’s when I am walking out the door into the world, or into chapter on a Tuesday night.
The little r is what defines me to the rest of my world. It’s what my husband and our two boys see; it’s how my friends, colleagues and my community perceive me. Little r is what drives my behaviors. Little r is our shared values of friendship, leadership, learning and service; which continue far past the day you put on a cap and gown. Little r is why I strive to be the best version of myself every day and to learn from the mistakes of yesterday so that I am stronger tomorrow.
The little r is also why I continue to advise my local chapter. Little r is the journey we all take in Alpha Chi Omega. I always marvel each spring as graduation nears. As our seniors prepare to take on the world, I pause to reflect on their first day as members, of bid days come and gone. I remember how unsure some of them were of themselves (and the few who were overly sure). I think of the time between then and now, of the majors changed, the semesters abroad, the loved ones sometimes lost, the bonds that tightened and ones that broke apart. Most importantly though, I think of the women they become. As those girls who entered our chapter each fall prepare to leave four short years later, I am amazed at the real, strong women they become. Women who possess the strength, grace and authenticity of our Founders.
So as another year approaches and I prepare myself for another marathon recruitment season (which at my age requires a lot more Starbucks and under eye concealer with each passing fall), I feel the little r in the air and it’s electric. It’s sisters embracing after a summer away, it’s an executive board with sights set high on a new school year and it’s the excitement of welcoming a new group of women into our sisterhood to share our bond and continue our legacy. Being part of their journey reminds me why I chose Alpha Chi Omega, literally, a century ago. It bridges the little r of our sisterhood to the big R of our Ritual and reminds me of that amazing thing that brings us all together.
By Kim Kelly
Kappa Xi, University of West Florida
Our Symphony can be applied to so much of the Peace Corps experience. Every day I saw “beauty in the common things of life,” because everything else was stripped away. Living in a rural village where many people didn’t have electricity or running water, TVs or iPads, or extravagant toys for the little ones; I saw people who lived a simple, common life. And I realized that even without all these things, they were happy and loving, and there was true beauty in that.
Another line from our Symphony, which rings so true for my PC experience, is “to see and appreciate all that is noble in another, be her badge what it may.” In this case, her badge would be her culture. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be completely immersed into a culture that is so far from your own. There were times when I would experience something and think to myself, “No way. No way is this actually happening!” For example, during the ceremony where we volunteers were paired to our host families, I experienced oralating for the first time. This is where the women come from out of nowhere and circle you while dancing and making a very loud sound, which is made by moving your tongue very quickly back and forth (it’s not easy). It was so unusual and something I had never seen before; all of these women dancing and making this funny, loud noise, but it was beautiful. There were so many incidents where I was able to appreciate the culture here. And throughout my experiences the people of Botswana reciprocated. They made me feel welcomed and loved, always referring to me as their daughter or auntie. Regardless of our “badge,” we were able to appreciate all that is noble in another.
Although I could come up with a relatable moment for every line of the Symphony, this one sticks out to me the most: “to shed the light of love and friendship round me.” The mission of Peace Corps is to promote world peace and friendship, and I think that’s exactly what the Symphony is saying. Although I found great joy in the projects that were successful at my site, such as a boy’s empowerment camp (GLOW Camp) or the after-school peer educators club, the most fulfilling and rewarding part of my service was the friendships I was able to create with my students and the love that I both shared and received. The moments of learning traditional games from Gontle and Tono, or when Thati would come over to show me how well he did on his math exam, or when Lentle and Kelebogile would tell me about their latest crushes and then cover their faces with their hands, in spells of giggles, if I dared to tell the boys… These were my favorite moments. These were the moments when the light of love and friendship was glowing brightest, when I knew my Peace Corps service was worth it, when I knew I had created relationships that would last a lifetime.
Lastly, in the last line of the Symphony, “to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity,” these are all such important traits for a Peace Corps volunteer to carry. The thing is, as Alpha Chis we already carry these traits; Peace Corps just gives you the chance to exemplify them. They say it’s the hardest job you’ll ever learn to love – and that couldn’t be truer – but it is so worth it. You will learn so much about yourself, you will grow in unimaginable ways and you will have the opportunity to live out the Symphony in the most rewarding way possible.
By: Selby Werner, Epsilon Psi
Let’s begin with a simple question: what is Greek licensing? (And why are we talking about it in a Ritual themed blog post?? Don’t worry, we will get there.) Essentially, Greek licensing is a formal process for Alpha Chi Omega and other Greek-letter organizations to protect the intellectual property assets of the organization. Since the trademarks of Alpha Chi Omega are the property of the organization, they must be controlled and deserve to be protected.
When you close your eyes and think of Alpha Chi Omega, what do you see? I’m sure we all have very different experiences and memories that come to mind, but in addition to those we all see the same symbols: our Greek letters – ΑΧΩ, the lyre, the red carnation, a pearl, perhaps even our open motto, “Together Let Us Seek the Heights!” I want to reiterate that… that we all imagine the same symbols. Despite there being more than 130 collegiate chapters and over 130 years of Alpha Chi history, we all imagine the same symbols when we think of our beloved sisterhood. Why is that?
The answer is two-fold. The first reason is, of course, the fact that those are the emblems our Founders decided upon when establishing this organization. Each was chosen deliberately and each has its own special significance. The second reason being that these symbols have been maintained and respected as emblems of the organization since its inception. One of the primary ways they have been maintained is through proper control via trademark licensing; by monitoring and controlling how the marks are being used commercially by vendors, Alpha Chi is able to ensure that they are only being used in ways that are appropriate representations of our sisterhood. Consequently, the integrity and value of the marks are preserved for future generations of sisters to enjoy.
There is no doubt in my mind that every Alpha Chi Omega sister can remember the first set of letters she received. It’s a moving experience; that special moment when she is able to proclaim to the world in big bold letters, quite literally, that she is a member of Alpha Chi Omega! Those letters mean something. They represent the truest nature of our organization – our heritage; our Ritual; our values; and our sisters, past, present, and future.
Too often though, that is unfortunately forgotten. It’s too easy to take the letters we wear for granted and forget that they represent something bigger than our four-year collegiate experiences. My call to you is this: to remember that those marks have a meaning beyond your own experience in Alpha Chi Omega.
Alpha Chi Omega’s licensing program is fundamentally a process through which product quality control is managed. Buying licensed products is one of the easiest ways to help reinforce our organizations’ values and make sure our Ritual it is protected for generations to come! Luckily for all of us, Alpha Chi Omega has made it easy to participate in this form of Ritual protection by establishing their licensing program. Give the gift of our sisterhood by buying items that have been approved.
For more about licensing and where your chapter can find licensed vendors, visit greeklicensing .com.
Photo courtesy of travlingirl.com
By Susan B. Barnes
Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University
Inspiration to travel can be found nearly everywhere – through movies we watch, books we read, stories relayed by our friends, world music… the list goes on! We thought it might be fun to take a look at our founders – all adventurous in their own ways – and suggest destinations that they may have liked to visit in today’s day and age.
Anna Allen Smith, who graduated DePauw’s School of Music at the young age of 19, lived in Greencastle, Indiana her entire life, and rarely, if ever, left the Hoosier State. A day’s drive – a perfect introduction for a beginning traveler – could easily transport Anna to a wealth of musical destinations, including Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Louisville, Nashville and Memphis.
Olive Burnett Clark – but we’re all friends here, so let’s call her Ollie, as her friends did – studied the piano, violin, cello and double bass while at DePauw. With her love of stringed instruments, Ollie may have left her comfort zone and traveled to the Museo del Violino in Cremona, Italy, which opened last year, or all the way to Australia to learn to play the didgeridoo!
An intense commitment to music led Bertha Deniston Cunningham to become an accomplished performer and teacher at DePauw’s School of Music, not to mention the envy of the school’s students due to her stellar composing skills. Bertha would probably enjoy the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, or the unaffiliated MIM (Musical Instrument Museum) in Brussels, Belgium; a quick hop from Brussels is the charming, picturesque town of Dinant, where Adolphe Sax, creator of the saxophone, was born.
As the “little girl with a big voice,” New York City’s Broadway would likely be high on Amy Dubois Reith list, especially to see prodigies just like her. Closer to home, she could take in stage productions in Chicago, where she could also see a few shows at Second City to appeal to her sense of humor; she had a tendency to pull pranks on her sorority sisters!
In addition to music, Nellie Gamble Childe was passionate about roses and loved to garden. What fun it would be for her to visit gardens around the country! Starting with the gardens at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC, she could easily travel west and make her way to the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Ore. And if Nellie wanted to hop the pond, I’d definitely suggest the gardens at Hampton Court outside of London, and Chateau de Versailles outside of Paris.
When Bessie Grooms Keenan had to give up her life’s ambition of being a pianist due to an injury, she threw herself into building AXO; her daughter Hannah followed her footsteps and eventually became director of what is now headquarters. This mother-daughter team deserve a getaway, don’t you think? For these two, I’m thinking of a summer at Tanglewood in the Massachusetts’ Berkshires, where the Boston Symphony Orchestra summers. The two could spread a blanket on the lawn and enjoy cool summer evening picnics under the twinkling stars and floating musical notes.
Of all of our founders, Estelle Leonard was the most like me – a travlin’ girl. Known to have a “developed independence, decision, and a rather bohemian attitude,” I could see Estelle hopping a plane for destinations unknown. Even more, she’d grab a bag and hop the Eurail, traveling Europe by train to whichever stop piqued her interest – perhaps Turkey, Finland, Croatia, or (maybe not surprisingly), Greece! She’d write about her travels, too – after all, she spent some time reporting for the local newspaper!
How about you? Where do you see our founders traveling to?
Susan B. Barnes (aka travlin’ girl) is a freelance travel writer based in Tampa. A proud Army brat, she was born on a military base in Belgium and has been on the go ever since, graduating from (Southwest) Missouri State University (Zeta Sigma). Susan enjoys traveling to new destinations and inspiring readers to travel themselves – whether around the world or in their own backyards. Connect with Susan on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
By Meredith Denton-Rines
Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University – Springfield
It’s been five years since I was a collegiate member of Alpha Chi Omega. I carry lessons from Alpha Chi with me every day and plan to do so for the rest of my life. Some of my favorite memories are of laughing with my sisters. However, the Ritual of Alpha Chi has deep roots in my heart and is what guides me.
Alpha Chi was the place where I first learned about being financially responsible, a lesson I had to quickly learn as the director of finances for Panhellenic.
The love of finance came quickly to me. I am now a financial advisor with a mission to help women create a path to reach their specific goals. I’ve realized that our Ritual keeps us in tune to reach our financial goals. With our Ritual and values in mind, I want to share tips on making healthy financial decisions for the rest of your life.
Wisdom & Devotion & Together Let Us Seek the Heights
You must work as a team to reach your goals, just as Alpha Chi Omega’s motto states, “Together let us seek the heights.” Your team may no longer be your sorority sisters. Maybe you’re an independent single woman, or perhaps you have a spouse and family. In college you demonstrated wisdom and devotion by studying to achieve good grades. You even took time to help others by getting involved in and taking an interest in others’ success. Now you have the chance to use your focus and study skills to make savvy money choices.
You are an educated, bright woman who understands the value of knowledge. As you get older, you also understand the importance of continuing your education. In doing so, you are able to make sound financial decisions. Planning for your retirement is like planning for a class project: you list your priorities and research options, construct a plan and then move forward.
TIP: Gain knowledge about retirement planning and saving. I recommend talking to a financial advisor early to create a plan. It’s easy to let life get in the way of preparing for the future, but you need to make sound financial decisions now, when it matters most. Starting a savings plan while in your 20s can make a huge impact on your future retirement. Start now.
You may have achieved a leadership role in Alpha Chi and on campus during college; now you must continue being a mentor by taking leadership of your life. You control our own destiny. If you do not take ownership of your goals and your path, no one else will. In today’s world it is becoming more and more acceptable to expect others to take care of you, but you cannot allow that. Only you know what’s the most valuable to you. You must stand up as a leader and know your worth.
I’d like to pull in one of our membership criteria here: financial responsibility. Our sisterhood definitely values being financially responsible, and it fits well with making healthy financial decisions. You learned how to balance your finances in college. Between chapter dues, girls’ nights out, and being able to afford the time of your life, you had plenty to think about. As you graduate and leave college, those financial worries only shift. Instead of chapter dues, you now have mortgage payments. In college you budgeted your time and money so you didn’t have to miss out on any fun adventures. Now you need to budget your money so you can live a debt-free life. You can be a step ahead of others by staying out of debt and “to keep [your] life in tune with the world.” Learning to balance early puts us a step ahead of others.
TIP: Create a budget and learn “to meet with courage the challenges of daily living.” Budgeting is a key to success. You can see where you are and where you want to go, and you can map a clear path to follow.
“To give graciously and to receive no less graciously that others may know the thrill of giving”
This line from our 75-year member ceremony is a great reminder to be philanthropic throughout your life. You learned the importance of philanthropy while in college. Alpha Chi does wonderful things to support real, strong women and prevent domestic violence. By budgeting and saving you will be able to achieve greatness in your life. The ability “to give graciously and to receive no less graciously that others may know the thrill of giving,” is an amazing virtue that you can continue to pass on.
TIP: As you grow older and your time commitments become more involved, it’s easy to stop giving to organizations about which you are passionate. You simply don’t have the time. However, you can give so much more than time by creating a budget and sticking to it. You need to carry on Alpha Chi’s passion for philanthropy throughout your life.
Making healthy financial decisions is not as hard as you might think. You, an Alpha Chi Omega sister, have learned many valuable lessons from our Ritual and values. You get the opportunity to carry these standards and values with you every single day and to apply them to many aspects of your life, including financial decisions.
About the Author: Meredith Denton-Rines is Director of Marketing and a Financial Specialist at Dairel L. Denton, Jr. & Associates, an accounting and financial planning firm in Southeast Missouri. She enjoys working with women, helping them create an individualized plan to reach their life goals. Connect with Meredith on Twitter and on her blog merelynne.com.
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.
2. Chapter members at William and Mary volunteered at the Heritage Humane Society.
3. Utah State University had fun brightening the day of Legacy House residents.
4. Indiana State Alpha Chis served food at the Haute Light House Mission.
5. Sisters from UNC Chapel Hill made cards for patients at the Duke Children’s Hospital.
6. Oregon State members added some cheer to everyone’s day by handing out red carnations on campus.
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.
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!
Happy 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 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.
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