Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega

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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.


New Year’s Challenge

Molly By Molly Schuneman
Sigma, University of Iowa

As we ring in the new year and a new semester, I find myself thinking about the amazing opportunities that were presented to me in the previous year. I have been unbelievably blessed to have graduated from the University of Iowa and landed the job of my dreams as a chapter consultant. What I don’t always remember to think about is all of the people who helped make that happen.

I recently read a blog post by T.J. Sullivan, a student leadership guru who I really admire, called “The thank-you challenge.” His blog post is about taking the time and writing a handwritten note to those people who have helped you throughout your life or taking the time to thank those people who help you on a daily basis and who you know may not often receive thanks. T.J. notes in his blog that people are more likely to appreciate and save a handwritten thank-you note than they are an email or a Facebook post. This blog post really inspired me to take action and thank those people who helped me accomplish everything that I did this last year, and I want to share it with you!

Here is MY challenge! Find a package of super cute thank-you cards at your local Target and get writing! Time is ticking and if you are as blessed as I have been this past year, you have so many thank-you notes to write.

As a collegian, you could write to those people who helped you last semester: the professor who worked hard to make class enjoyable, your mentor who wrote you a stellar recommendation letter for graduate school or the friend in your really difficult class who stayed up late studying with you to make sure that you understood the concepts.  As alumni, you could write to the barista at Starbucks who greets you with a smile and a sincere “have a great day,” the co-worker who is always there to lend a helping hand or the Jazzercise instructor who really cares about your well-being and inspires you to get in shape.

During recruitment last semester, I received two of the most beautiful thank you notes from sisters in the chapter with whom I was working. The notes expressed that they were thankful for everything I was helping them with as a consultant and that my hard work was not going unnoticed. No one made them write those notes. They just wanted to thank me. I felt so appreciated and I know that I will save those notes for forever. Make someone feel as special as I felt when I received those two notes.

Even though it is important to thank the people who help us out in small ways, we cannot forget to thank those people who make a great impact on our lives. Surprise your mom and mail her a thank you note! Write a thank you to your best friend! Send grandma and grandpa a note as well! These are the people who have greatly shaped our lives and we often times forget to thank them. Now is your chance to really tell them how much you appreciate them.

Complete my challenge some time this new year and write a thank-you note to those people in your life who have helped you. It will make you feel good and in true Alpha Chi fashion you will definitely “shed the light of love and friendship” around you.


Becoming a Real, Strong Woman

Jacilyn_KennedyBy Jacilyn Kennedy
Gamma Tau, Oklahoma City University

I still remember senior appreciation week; amidst tears, I told my chapter sisters, “Alpha Chi Omega has truly made me a real, strong woman.” As a nervous freshman I joined this organization, but I never could have imagined how much I would grow in my four short years as a collegian. I gained so many skills that I never would have been able to gain without the programming offered by Alpha Chi Omega and the encouragement of my sisters.

As I walked into Alpha Chi Omega headquarters for my first day of consultant training, I felt just like my freshman self. I was starting something completely new with another group of amazing sisters. I already thought I was a real, strong woman, but being a traveling consultant would teach me so much more.

I’ve grown to appreciate my own company. I am meeting so many amazing women, but a large portion of the time I am alone. This has allowed me to not only learn more about myself but also enjoy my own company. I can confidently explore a city, eat at a restaurant and travel alone. I am independent and strong. While friends and sisters add to my quality of life, I now know that the source of my comfort and happiness comes from myself.

I truly believe I can handle any situation. Traveling across the country, I have had my fair share of interesting situations and have had to adapt quickly. I have navigated through these situations, even surprising myself at times. I will never have all of the answers, but I know I have the skills to be able to tackle anything that comes my way.

I’ve learned it’s okay to fail. So many times we agonize over things trying to make them perfect, or we don’t try things because we are afraid to fail. I have failed throughout this journey, and I’ve seen sisters who also have failed, but I now know that failing is what teaches you how to succeed. I am better for trying and for making myself vulnerable. I might have failed, but I did more than those who didn’t try.

I view every situation as an opportunity to stretch, not break. We all experience tough times, and often think we can’t make it through. However, these situations are what teach us new things and allow us to grow. Instead of shutting down and becoming upset, I have learned to see how I am growing. We can make it through, and we will be better because of it.

Most importantly, I have learned that becoming a real, strong woman never ends. We will constantly be changing and adapting to situations, and a strong woman must grow and learn. A real woman not only helps others but also works to better herself. Becoming a real, strong woman is a lifelong journey. I thought I had arrived at my destination at the end of my collegiate career, but  I now know that I will continue growing throughout my life. Our tagline not only describes who we are, but who we are becoming.


“To plant a garden, is to believe in tomorrow.”

Sami_HolleyBy Sami Holley
Gamma Rho, Texas Tech University

Last fall, I was given the opportunity to visit the University of Southern Mississippi for the very first time. Little did I know that just a year later, I would be making Southern my home and supporting 100+ women in planting their garden for future Alpha Chis.

Three National Council members, five chapter consultants, eight interview team members and more than 100 new Alpha Chi Omega sisters was all it took to change my life for ever. After 391 days of preparation, it was incredible to watch the Kappa Sigma chapter celebration unfold. While at Southern, I have been on a roller coaster, and with every turn and bump I have had my hands in the air to enjoy this beautiful ride. But, I have not been on this journey alone. I have been so honored with bright, smart, and passionate young women who trusted our Alpha Chi Omega colonization team and embarked on this incredible journey with me.

There is something special about watching new members during the initiation ceremony. Their eyes so big, full of happiness and joy—that is what makes my heart full. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the Ritual of Alpha Chi Omega, I get the chills. I see the possibilities of our sisterhood, the compassion towards others and the inspiration to truly seek the heights with the women around you. In the words of Kappa Sigma chapter president Nicolet Hopper, “Our founding members have taken the title of founding membership and are working together to craft their legacy.”

It seems like every day I am learning about hard work and dedication, as our members learn about every aspect of Alpha Chi Omega. They are dedicated to serving others and look for the beauty in their sisters daily. They are constantly writing their story.

I want to leave you with something beautiful from our instillation ceremony:

Now in this story, there are sure to be some scribbles and scratch-throughs, some white-outs and smears, but I am certain that the outcome will be beautiful, because each of you are beautiful. As we work together to write the opening chapter of our lifetime legacy, may we remember that it’s our story that will be the foundation for generations and generations of sisters to follow.Together, let us seek the heights.


Year on the Road: A Parents’ Perspective

Satterfield_FamilyBy Anna and John Satterfield

Parents of Alessia Satterfield, Xi, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

It was the spring semester of our daughter’s senior year at the University of Nebraska and as her parents, we were eagerly awaiting graduation. We were also anticipating Alessia’s career decision. There had been some discussion about law school, possibly graduate school or pursuing a job back on the East Coast.

Alessia had loved her sorority experience and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the opportunities that she had been given, the friends she made and her growth as a real, strong woman. However, we certainly didn’t see it coming when all of a sudden Alessia called about a “GREAT” job opportunity. We were extremely excited to hear what new opportunity had presented itself to Alessia, convinced there was a job waiting for her in Connecticut. Much to our surprise, she expressed a sincere desire to continue her work in the sorority as a national consultant. She spoke with such enthusiasm and passion that we felt it best to allow her to interview for this new job opportunity, the thought being that once she went to Indianapolis she would realize that the job was not for her. The interview came and went but the passion and enthusiasm grew. It became apparent that this opportunity was one that she did not want to miss.

In retrospect, as we talked about this decision we are not surprised that this is the conclusion that Alessia came to. She felt that it would provide her the greatest opportunity to expand her horizons, present the most complete challenge possible and further her growth into the woman she wanted to become. But more than that, the decision really ran into her blood. The history of this decision goes back many years, actually many generations. Her great-grandmother, grandmother and two aunts on the paternal side of her family were all Alpha Chi Omegas at the University of Nebraska.

Alessia grew up on the East Coast and thoroughly surprised us just four years prior by telling us she had made the decision to go to the University of Nebraska. Over the course of eight semesters her passion for UNL, and more importantly for the sisterhood of Alpha Chi Omega, grew exponentially. It was that passion that convinced her of the decision to pursue the job as a consultant. But as her parents we were still concerned: the hours, the travel, the overall commitment and the list of associated issues seemed endless. The more we discussed it, the more certain we were that it wasn’t the right decision. She should just come back to the East Coast where everything would be “easier.” Well, the easy path held no interest for Alessia, and her relentless pursuit of the dream to continue her work with Alpha Chi Omega absolutely wore us down. For every argument that we could propose her counter argument was stronger and more impassioned. Our only option was to relent and do our best to support the decision she had made.

We saw her head off in the summer of 2011 to Indianapolis for her initial training. We heard countless stories of the hard work that was required of each of the new consultants as they learned how to be leaders of real, strong women. The fall semester began and so did the travel and what seemed like endless trips from one university to another; a new airport, a different hotel or another “fire” to put out at a different chapter house. It was never easy, sometimes it was very difficult, but not once did we ever hear any doubt in our daughter’s voice about the decision she made, or the passion she felt about her job as a consultant for Alpha Chi Omega. As a matter of fact, we became more and more convinced that her decision to become a consultant was absolutely the right thing. Alessia’s growths personally, professionally and spiritually were apparent: we knew without a doubt that she could not have had a better opportunity as a new college graduate.

The year flew by and we could not have been more pleased with all the experiences our daughter had encountered. We honestly believe that her time as a consultant was invaluable and the opportunities she has in front of her today would have never been possible if it wasn’t for her “year on the road.”

With Heartfelt thanks for the sisterhood of Alpha Chi Omega most sincerely,

Anna and John Satterfield