Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega

Browsing category: Collegians, The Consultant Chronicles

What’s Next?

web_Catherine_KerwinBy: Catherine Kerwin
Sigma, University of Iowa
Region 4 Traveling Consultant

During my first two months as a traveling consultant, I’ve worked with chapters across the country, from Seattle to Nashville. One of my favorite parts of being a traveling consultant is exploring the different coffee shops on the campuses I visit. You may be surprised to learn that the best coffee I’ve had so far during my travels wasn’t in Seattle, but in Manhattan, Kansas. (Shout out to Arrow Coffee Co.!) For an avid coffee drinker such as myself, having good coffee is a must, especially when frequently changing time zones.

From countless cups of coffee to waiting in seemingly endless lines at airport security and navigating my way through new parts of the country, this job keeps me on my toes! Not only am I becoming better at packing, but I’m also learning how to work in new environments. My collegiate experience as an Alpha Chi Omega taught me a lot, but as a consultant I’m continuing to better myself as a leader. Contrary to what I believed as a freshman, you don’t have all the answers once you graduate from college. I’m still growing into the woman I want to be, and once again, Alpha Chi is helping me grow.

As a collegian, I went through recruitment without the faintest idea of how joining a sorority could shape me as an adult. While a part of the Sigma chapter at the University of Iowa, I was an involved member who loved participating in homecoming, Greek week and attending other social events with my sisters.  I was the chapter’s historian for one semester, and I also served as a class representative on CRSB. However, I shied away from running for an executive officer position, and I wish someone would have encouraged me to pursue a role on the executive board. Nonetheless, I am now incredibly blessed to help collegiate women realize their leadership potential as I continue to expand my own horizons.

Getting to know the collegiate women at different chapters has shown me just how far the Alpha Chi sisterhood extends across the country. It makes every place I visit feel like home. I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to do after I’m finished working for Alpha Chi, and being able to travel and explore new places allows me to get a better idea of where I would like to go. Wherever I end up next, I know I’ll be able to reach out to sisters in the surrounding area for support. I’m thankful for the leadership experiences and friendships I’ve gained from being a consultant because I know they will set me up for success in the future.


Real World Balance

web_Michelle_WoodardBy Michelle Woodard
Kappa Omicron, High Point University
Resident Consultant, University of North Carolina – Charlotte

“My daughter, Michelle Woodard, is making chicken? On her own?” – my mother’s reaction when she found out her youngest daughter can actually successfully cook a meal without burning the house down.

Being in the real world was always something that scared me. I’ve always had a job growing up, and I went to college 11 hours away from my hometown, so I had always been somewhat independent. However, being a REAL adult always scared me. Living on my own, having to clean my own house, having to buy groceries (and not just ride in the cart and annoy my mom while she shopped) was always a concept I couldn’t quite grasp. Being a consultant for Alpha Chi Omega has not only led me to grow in this organization, but as a woman in the real world.

Not only have I learned how to cook chicken on my own without burning it, but also I’ve had to learn things such as: when garbage day is, and where exactly you roll your garbage out to, how to properly balance a work phone and a personal phone in your hand while also holding a wallet and sunglasses, how to setup cable on a complicated yet simple television, and how to fix a breaker box when the fuse has blown.

On top of all of this, Alpha Chi Omega has always told its consultants to become a part of the community in which we live. We are not just on-site to do a job; we are on-site to start a life in the community where we are placed. By this organization constantly encouraging me to keep a work-life balance, and not only work in this community but to be a part of it, I have found myself calling this place home only after being here for a month. For example, we are expected to set goals over summer training that are non-work related. This can be anything like “get 8 hours of sleep when possible,” or “eat healthy even when you want a milkshake instead.”

My goal was to start attending yoga classes. I have always been a gym-goer, and have always loved to work out, but yoga always intimidated me. People being that flexible… all the time… and being so “zen”… really just felt like there were high expectations that I could not meet. But I set the goal, my supervisor held me to it, and I can proudly say I have attended yoga for the past month! It has not only helped me physically, but emotionally and mentally in this fast paced job as an Alpha Chi Omega consultant.

Every job has its pros and cons, but I truly believe the pros of being a resident consultant 100% outweigh any and all cons associated with this job. Are there going to be many sleepless nights because of formal recruitment that seems to never end? Yes. Are there going to be consecutive weeks when all you can have for lunch is Chipotle because your days are so packed with meetings and it’s the only thing close to campus? Yes. However, there are going to be countless smiles you get from the women with whom you work, the neighbors you have come to know in your new community and the employees at the gym who know you by your first name and know that if you’re not to the gym by 7, you must have had a long day at work.

I truly believe that I would not be as successful in the work place or as happy in my community if I didn’t have the support and push that I get from my co-workers and supervisors. Being an employee for this organization has pushed me to my fullest potential, but never have I had to do so on my own with all of the people surrounding me – even if it’s via text message, Skype, GroupMe or email. The encouragement to keep a healthy balance between work and life is something special to Alpha Chi as an organization, and it’s something that makes this job so special and so unique.


Building a Home and a Legacy

web_Dakota_HerseyBy: Dakota Hersey
Kappa Pi, University of North Carolina – Wilmington
Resident Consultant – University of Southern Mississippi

It is no secret that membership in Alpha Chi Omega is immensely special to everyone who has the privilege to call themselves a sister.

I have so much admiration for the founders who created this organization that has molded me into the woman I never knew I could be. They had a vision. They dreamed of creating a home on campus where they did not currently have one. One that offered the same lifelong development and friendship that other organizations had, but one that was perfect for them.

As a founding member of the Kappa Pi chapter, this vision resonates with me because I shared the same dream. I did not have an organization to call my own until I ran into the confident, authentic, beautiful Alpha Chi consultant team on campus. They presented an opportunity for my future sisters and me to become a part of this wonderful sisterhood that provides more than we could ever give back. They are the reason that vision came to life. They are also the reason I am who I am today and why I love Alpha Chi Omega as much as I do.

The main reason I was so determined to become a consultant was to see this vision come to life in many other chapters. I was beyond excited to inspire members the way every consultant has inspired me and, in turn, be encouraged by the members’ passion and dedication. After coaching one of the five chapters installed this past year, Kappa Sigma, through their first formal recruitment, I witnessed the same desire and drive to succeed as I saw in my founding class.

I absolutely loved my collegiate and founding experience. Now, as a consultant to a chapter filled with incredibly bright, talented, charismatic founding members and the new members they have recruited, I can’t even express the joy it brings me to work with them and listen to their stories.

The other day, I had the opportunity to ask a few of them what brought them to Alpha Chi. How and why did they choose to join this new chapter? It made my heart happy to hear what sounded like my own story and vision as the basis for the reasons they chose to create history as the founding class of Kappa Sigma. They were searching for something more and (with the help of some awesome consultants!) found it in Alpha Chi. They are willing to work for the sisterhood they have envisioned and they will stop at nothing until their chapter rises “To The Top!” I know that it is members like these women who make up all of the newest chapters of Alpha Chi Omega and I couldn’t be more proud.

If you are considering founding membership in Alpha Chi Omega, my advice to you is absolutely go for it. Being a founder is a once in a lifetime experience. You get to create a home on campus that does not yet exist for not only yourself but also the thousands of women who will come behind you. You have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the original founders of Alpha Chi Omega. It’s hard to believe, but before you know it you’ll be alongside your sisters, rocking your first formal recruitment, mentoring new members just like yourself and taking your unique experience into your future – as a real, strong woman of Alpha Chi Omega.



Be the 9,999

web_Emma_EriksonBy: Emma Eriksen
Sigma, University of Iowa
Region 2 Traveling Consultant

If there is one thing I have learned so far as a chapter consultant, it’s focus on the big picture.

It is truly is possible to fall in love over and over again with Alpha Chi.

One of my favorite new leadership theories that I learned over summer consultant training is to “be the 9,999.” Think of your favorite singer. In the middle of the concert, when the audience of people is cheering, dancing and having a blast, they don’t worry about the 1 person who chose not to come. They focus on the thousands of people who chose to buy tickets and attend.

That’s exactly what I’ve learned to do. “Being the 9,999” while on the road helps me focus on the lives that our team is changing and influencing and how each day makes this experience even more memorable. As a group, we consultants remind each other of our purpose and build each other up so we can all become the best women we can. Even better, while we support each other and serve our sisterhood, we’re also having the time of our lives!

Summer training was one of the most memorable and incredible experiences of my life. Our consultant team is truly amazing. We learned from each other, found our niche in the group and, most importantly, gained skills to give back to the organization that has given us each so much. There is no greater feeling in the world that sitting in a room full of your Alpha Chi sisters listening to their passions, perspectives and advice. And there is no better environment in which to grow as an individual.

A standout moment of training for me was a session where each of us went around the room and shared why we took this job; the words of my sisters brought the majority of the room to tears. As a few of my sisters shared during that session, “I do this because Alpha Chi is what I’m good at, and after graduation I sure didn’t want to stop.”

Why did I take this job? Alpha Chi Omega is never a past tense. I continue to find amazing opportunities in our sisterhood. Looking back on my collegiate experience, Alpha Chi did not only make me into the woman I wanted to be, but made me into the woman I did not know I could become.

I guess all twenty-somethings get a little nervous hearing the word “new,” whether that’s a new job, new place to live or a new life post-grad. Work toward your goals, make an impact, influence others and be a sorority savant. That’s exactly what I learned to do, and what the 21 other amazing women on the consultant team do for each other daily.

I loved Alpha Chi Omega before I became a chapter consultant, and I didn’t think it was possible for me to love it more. But this sisterhood continues to surprise me, just when I think my soul is full, a new experience, friendship or piece of knowledge adds to my motivation to give back. It truly gives me everything I never knew I needed. And for that I am so thankful.


Goodbye to Summer

web_Shannon_HigginsBy Shannon Higgins
Alpha Nu, University of Missouri
Region 3 Traveling Consultant

It’s that time of the year again! The school supplies section has taken over an entire corner of Target and become an office supply enthusiast’s dream! Some people dread the end of summer, but I was always that person who looked forward to going back to school. I enjoyed picking out fresh new notebooks and spending the last weeks of summer with friends and family, but most of all, I loved counting down to the day I would be reunited with my Alpha Chi Omega sisters.

Alpha Chi Omegas all over the country are doing the same thing at this moment. Some are packing to move into an apartment and some will be moving into a chapter house. Some are traveling by car and some by plane. But once they arrive, they will be greeted by the universal sounds that I will forever associate with back to school – the shrieks of sisters reunited and the buzz of women trading stories of summer vacations and internships.

When I began my journey as a chapter consultant last year, I was excited (and definitely a little nervous) for back to school. I hoped that these women I had been emailing would like me, that they would find my suggestions helpful, and that ultimately, I would live up to their expectations as a representative of Alpha Chi Omega. Looking back, I laugh because my worries were unfounded. Over the course of the year, those email addresses turned into smiling sisters who I came to know and love. These women welcomed me into their chapters and allowed me to participate in some of their favorite parts of being an Alpha Chi Omega – bid days, sisterhood events, chapter dinners, “The Bachelor” watch parties and even late-night talks about life.

As a returning chapter consultant, back to school is an especially exciting time this year. I can’t wait to see the collegiate sisters with whom I’ve already built friendships and who I’ve missed over the summer. I’m looking forward to spending time with the women who were some of the first to write, “happy birthday!” on my Facebook wall a few weeks ago and who left comments that made me glow with happiness when I announced that I would be returning as a consultant for the 2015-2016 school year.  I’ll be cheering right along with these women as they welcome their new sisters home on bid day and exchange hugs with the most recently graduated sisters when they return for alumnae events and homecoming. Since becoming a chapter consultant, I have been humbled by the strength of Alpha Chi Omega sisterhood. Sisterhood is not limited by age, by geography or by chapter of initiation. I am awed by the profound impact each and every sister I meet has on my Alpha Chi Omega journey, and I feel like I carry a little piece of every chapter I visit in my heart.

One thing I notice on every visit I make is that our collegiate women work so hard to live up to ideals outlined in our Ritual and to provide an outstanding chapter experience for their sisters. But sometimes in the rush of the school year, chapter goals and officer ideas are forgotten and the excitement begins to wane. Summer is a time for our chapters to hit the reset button. Officers can come back refreshed with new ideas, new goals and new enthusiasm to finish their terms strong. Members who may have ended the spring semester or quarter stressing about finals have a new year ahead of them. Back to school may be the end of summer, but it’s the beginning of a new page for our collegiate chapters. Because of this, I’m excited to trade in my swimsuits for suitcases and head out to work with the women who make my job worth every late night and every delayed flight. I’m ready to usher in the school year, and I hope our chapters are ready to say goodbye to summer with me!


Farewell Favorites

Sami_HolleyBy Sami Holley
Gamma Rho, Texas Tech University

With our next class of consultants currently in training, Sami reflects on her time as a chapter consultant.

After two fantastic years as a chapter consultant for Alpha Chi Omega, it has come time for me to say goodbye (and I haven’t even grabbed for a tissue—yet). It is a bittersweet departure as I am equally excited for the consultants that will fill my shoes as I am sad about leaving my memories, friends and sisters.

I came into my first day of training as a fresh college graduate who had no idea what was in store for the next couple of years. I have always been told that Alpha Chi Omega has the best consultant training out there, and it proved to be true that summer. I made memories with friends I will never forget, and I learned what it means to be a real, strong woman and to truly change lives.

While I was daydreaming about my experience as a consultant, I decided I would love to share some of my favorite moments with you.

Summer training: Wow! What a challenging yet rewarding experience. Going in, I don’t think anyone knows that to expect. It’s a really cool concept to work with your sisters. The level of confidence they treat you with is comforting, but the respect that they have for you is what really seals the deal.

Moving (away from Texas): Who even knew that just moving to a different state would change your attitude toward home?! Not only did I move out of the only place I knew, but I moved in with two sisters I had only known for six weeks—talk about really getting to know each other. These women became my best friends and my home. Little did they know what they were getting themselves into on day one. I can’t speak for them, but I know that I wouldn’t take back one day of our time together.

And, it’d be a shame if I didn’t mention my second-year roommate. During hard times she picks me up, she keeps me happy when I’m sad and she never, ever gives up on me! Talk about a true sister. I wouldn’t have made it without her, and I will never forget the joy she brought me when I needed it most.

Creating long-distance friendships: When you first hear about the consultant position, everyone always says you’re going to make so many friends. What I didn’t know going in is that your consultant sisters can become constant companions, even when you’re not in the same state. They are your biggest supporters and push you to be your best as soon as they meet you.

Colonization: There may be no greater joy in my heart than the joy I felt on bid day for our new chapter at the University of Southern Mississippi (shout out, Kappa Sigma chapter). I will never forget the moment I saw all of our new members running home to Alpha Chi. The women at Southern Miss have completely taken my heart, and for that I am forever grateful. They have praised my big wins, as well as my small wins; they have taught me what being a servant leader is all about; and they have brought out my passions.

Two years really have flown by. Thank you to all the women I met along the way. While I had the chance to change lives, you all were changing mine. It has been a fun ride, Alpha Chi Omega.


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!


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.


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!


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.