This October will mark 132 years since seven strong, young women founded Alpha Chi Omega. So much has happened within the almost century and half that our sorority has existed. Much has changed in the global, political and social landscapes of the world. But one thing has remained the same: the bond of Alpha Chi Omega. We have grown nationally to more than 140 collegiate chapters and 220,000 members across the globe. Each of these women has had her life changed because of our seven original sisters.
Bertha, Estelle, Anna, Nellie, Bessie, Olive and Amy founded Alpha Chi Omega because there was no fraternity for them to join as music students at DePauw University. They took it upon themselves to create one of their own. I often wonder if they ever thought their small musical fraternity would grow to level that it has, or if they knew just how many lives they would touch. Several times I have been asked in job interviews, “If you could have lunch with anyone from history, who would it be and why?” This often causes my mind to wander to our Founders. I would love the opportunity to meet with them and tell them all that they have inspired and to see their faces light up as they hear what their fraternity has been busy doing over the last 132 years.
I would tell them that we are working to redefine the sorority experience. That we are women empowering women, creating change across campuses by educating our peers about healthy relationships and helping those impacted by domestic violence. And I would assure them that although we no longer have a membership requirement related to music ability, we do hold our musical heritage in the highest regard and wear our lyre badge proudly.
But most of all, I would like to tell them thank you. Their legacy has shaped me into the woman I always wanted to be. I would thank them for our beautiful symbols that first made me fall in love with Alpha Chi when I went through recruitment. I would thank them for our Ritual that binds me with sisters across the country and with sisters of different generations. I would thank them for being real, strong women.
Olive once said, “All I have ventured to give toward the upbuilding and uplifiting of our fraternity has been from the depths of my heart, and has been repaid in thousandfold by my girls.” It is because of her and the other six Founders’ selfless attitudes that we have our sisterhood. Today and every day, may our members across the globe remember the legacy of our Founders and send a silent “thank you” for all they have done. Happy Founders’ Day!
Founders’ Day reminds us of our commitment to our sisterhood regardless of school rivalries, hometowns, or age.
October 15 brings to light each one of the thousands of Alpha Chi Omegas that represent our letters all over the country. From 1885 to 2017, sisters across the country continue to share the same values of friendship, leadership, learning, and service.
Remember to emphasize these values as you bring together your chapter to celebrate another year of a sisterhood full of Real Strong Women.
I hope the following suggestions for activities bring you and your chapter a little bit closer to our history, values, and each other.
Rededication of the Bond
- Perform the ceremony at the chapter meeting that takes place closest to Founders’ Day.
- This ceremony is in the green ceremonies binder.
25/50/75 Year Ceremonies
- Read over the anniversary ceremonies and remind your chapter of the generations that came before you.
- You can find these in the green ceremonies binder.
- Host a luncheon for your local alumnae chapters as a way to introduce your sisters to sisters who have graduated. This is a good time to ask alumnae their Alpha Chi Omega stories, favorite ceremonies, and maybe learn some new chants! Alumni events show us that being an Alpha Chi last beyond our time as collegians.
- Have the event catered or pick up some items for a sundae bar!
- $50-$1,000 (if you want to get fancy!)
Color Me Mine
- Appreciate Alpha Chi Omega’s fine arts heritage by bringing together your sisters to paint! You can all make your own Alpha Chi/Big Little craft or you can ask a more talented sister to guide you in painting one thing à la Bob Ross. This is a good way to spend some time appreciating your sisters and our history. It’s also a good study break!
- Go to your local craft store and purchase small canvases, paint, and paintbrushes (BYOCrafts is also an option). If your budget allows, you can also organize a Color Me Mine rep to come to your chapter or take your sisters to a Color Me Mine location.
- A Carnation pass is a fun way to promote our sisterhood on campus while celebrating our heritage! Buy 7 carnations (representing each founder), tie a card on each one with some fun facts about the Founders or Alpha Chi and distribute to seven sisters that morning. These women will then hand them off to another sister they see around campus, and so on. Each woman can sign her name on the back of the card. By the end of the day, everyone can come back to your house and you can all see how many sisters shared the carnations.
- If you’re in a larger chapter, you can send out more than seven carnations to share the love with more sisters!
Historian presentation about your chapter
- Whether your chapter was established in the last 10 years or you’ve celebrated your centennial, learning your chapter’s history will make you better appreciate your chapter and the sisters by your side.
- Your historian should have access to old photo albums and composites, maybe even alumni letters and bid cards! If you need more information on your chapter’s founding, you can always contact Vicky Harrison.
Founders’ Day Skit
- The skits give your chapter the opportunity to see themselves and their sisters in our seven founders, since they were students our age when they decided to come together to create a bond. Little did they know that their creation would go on to change women’s lives for the next 100+ years!
- You can find PDFs of the skits in the Ritual and Ceremonies tab of the Resource Center.
- Throw a “birthday” party to celebrate our Founding.
- Balloons, party hats, confetti poppers, need I say more?
- Party City and the 99 cent store are your best friends!
Kendra Swanson was a resident consultant at the Lambda chapter at Syracuse University for their reestablishment in 2016. Here are her reflections on how she emulated Ritual and saw Ritual in others through her experience.
The values of Alpha Chi Omega have resonated with me throughout my experience both as a collegiate member of the organization and as a staff member.
I had the privilege of serving as the resident consultant for the reestablishment of the Lambda chapter at Syracuse University last year and found that our values shine throughout the entire recruitment and establishment process. I was constantly reminded of the importance of wisdom, devotion and achievement through numerous experiences.
Wisdom was prevalent as I was constantly learning from the dedicated staff, volunteers and establishment team, further enhancing my knowledge of what it means to be an Alpha Chi Omega and how I can serve others in my daily life.
When I think of devotion, I think of the constant and consistent love, loyalty and passion that is given to every event and every aspect of working toward a common goal of welcoming women to membership in Alpha Chi Omega and creating lifelong bonds.
At the end of the semester, I had the opportunity to assist in planning and executing the installation banquet for the members, and this event embodied achievement in every sense of the word. This moment was when all of the puzzle pieces came together, the Lambda chapter of Alpha Chi Omega was officially installed and the values molded into one remarkable experience.
Lambda Chapter, Bid Day Fall 2016
Monica Hiller is vice president recruitment at the Gamma Tau chapter at Oklahoma City University. Monica injected Ritual into Gamma Tau’s recruitment experience by making sure lifetime members thought of others before themselves. She challenged her chapter to think of potential new members’ feelings and experiences while they were going through the recruitment process instead of dwelling on the long days and busyness that is recruitment.
Ritual is the very essence of what makes an Alpha Chi Omega, an Alpha Chi Omega. Without the Ritual, there would be no sisterhood, but without the sisterhood, there would be no need for Ritual. This is where recruitment comes in.
As vice president recruitment this year, it was my job to combine our sacred and secret Ritual with the very public affair that is recruitment – a seemingly impossible task. So how did I do it?
The most important part of recruitment is the week-long preparation for recruitment. Gamma Tau calls this Sisterhood Week. This is a time of sisterhood growth, greater understanding of Alpha Chi Omega and training on the best way to recruit new sisters into the house. I made sure the Ritual was a part of our Sisterhood Week.
Alpha Chi Omega’s Ritual encourages leading a good life of kindness and loyalty. It asks sisters to go beyond themselves and think of others. That is how I led recruitment. We focused on being good people before we focused on being good recruiters. We focused on the thoughts and feelings of potential new members before we focused on our long evenings and sore feet.
The way I interpret Alpha Chi Omega’s Ritual is this: If you’re leading the kind of life that makes the people around you proud, you’re doing a good job. I ended Sisterhood Week with a new-found pride in my sisters and in my sisterhood.
Recruitment is the “what” and Ritual is the “why.” Recruitment and Ritual go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other.
Gamma Tau Chapter, Bid Day Fall 2017
On Tuesday, April 4, the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation launched its first-ever Day of Giving.
Nearly 800 gifts with over 550 individual sisters and friends of Alpha Chi Omega contributed to the campaign. 119 collegiate chapters donated $18.85 or more and 55 alumnae chapters were represented through alumnae donations.
Thanks to headquarters and foundation staff, sisters and Giving Day Ambassadors, this was a huge success!
We appreciate “every little service rendered” by our ambassadors. We asked some sisters who served as ambassadors for Ritual reflections based on their involvement with the campaign.
Their thoughts on their participation, our sisterhood and Ritual are inspiring.
“…And to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity.”
I had the honor of serving as an ambassador for Alpha Chi Omega’s 2017 Day of Giving campaign. In reaching out to sisters from my home chapter, I thought of this special line in our symphony. Alpha Chi Omega has given me so much, especially in the form of sincere lifelong friends – some of whom will be part of my wedding next year. I felt it was the perfect time to send forth my own chords of unselfishness in hopes to give another sister the opportunity to experience that same sincere friendship for herself.
– Katie Wyrick, Beta Delta
When I think about Day of Giving and how it connects to our symphony, I can’t help but reflect on the line, “to strike on the lyre of the universe only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace.” There is something so powerful about the thought of striking on the “lyre of the universe,” and throughout Alpha Chi Omega’s Day of Giving I think we did just that.
The purpose of this campaign from the Foundation perspective was two-fold: of course we wanted to raise money for the Foundation and Foundation-supported programs, but we also wanted to celebrate the amazing work that Alpha Chi Omega has done for over 130 years to create a sisterhood of empowered real, strong women.
We are an amazing organization and I think it’s just as important to celebrate that within our sisterhood, and with the world, as it is to support it through time and money. Fundraising can be challenging, especially when it’s all online and it can be difficult to feel like you’re making an impact, but throughout our 36-hour Day of
Giving campaign it certainly felt like Alpha Chi Omegas all over the world had such a strong presence in helping us share why it’s so important to have programs and initiatives to support our members that are created by women and for women.
This presence only continues to amaze me when I think about the fact that we raised over $105,000 in 36 hours from 500 donors – if that isn’t empowering I don’t know what is!
– Katie Sherrill, Alpha
“There is a sisterhood whose equal can’t be found. In this loyal bond together we are bound…if you ever need us, we’ll be standing by to give you all we got, all for Alpha Chi.”
Lyrics from one of my favorite Alpha Chi Omega songs, “There Is A Sisterhood,” touched me deeply as a collegian and still ring true decades later as an alumna. I stay involved, donate to the Foundation, and leaped at the opportunity to be a Day of Giving ambassador because I want to give back to the organization that has given me more than I can say and pay it forward so women for generations-to-come can have the same priceless experience of sisterhood and empowerment programming.
– Anne Teaford-Cantor, Alpha Psi
“…to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity…”
I was honored to serve as a campaign ambassador for the Day of Giving. In particular, I chose to support and recruit donors for Social Excellence Training, an amazing program that offers an educational experience for collegiate recruitment officers and their advisors. Like the women who attend this event, I give of my time, talents and treasures in the spirit of love, unselfishness and sincerity. I give to preserve the experience that is Alpha Chi Omega for generations of sisters to come. I could not be more grateful for all of the volunteers and donors to the Fraternity and Foundation!
– Laura Knobel, Iota Alpha
I volunteered as an ambassador for Day of Giving because of the Alpha Chi Omega sisters in my life who have inspired me and who I continue to aspire to be. I fundraised for the Fraternity’s newest program, Women & Wisdom, as I truly believe it exemplifies our mission to create lifelong opportunities of learning for our members. Collegians are able to interact and seek mentorship from sisters across the globe who have expertise in their desired career path. As an alumna, I have used the program myself to learn more about my own field. After just my first session with my mentor, I was absolutely thrilled with all we had discussed! She had a wealth of knowledge that I continue to learn from beyond our monthly one-on-one phone call sessions and a passion to share her experiences with me having worked in the similar professional roles. Because of our sisters’
donations on Day of Giving, Women & Wisdom will continue to be a great success – for collegians and alumnae alike – demonstrating what it means to be a part of a lifelong sisterhood.
– Rachel Haley, Omicron
The Alpha Chi Omega Day of Giving, to me, was a true demonstration of devotion. As both an ambassador and as someone who was able to work behind-the-scenes with our Foundation team to set up the day, the Day of Giving was especially memorable to me. The devotion of the whole Foundation team was evident in all the work they did leading up to the day, and the entire [larger] ambassador team was so devoted to success in our goals! Through the collective devotion to ensuring the future of our Fraternity, we made history for Alpha Chi Omega, and hopefully inspired many young women who are just beginning their Alpha Chi journeys to become just as devoted as this amazing group of real, strong women!
– Lauren Wake, Beta Nu
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 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.