Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega

Browsing category: Collegians, The Consultant Chronicles
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Road Warriors: The Worthwhile Experiences

Belleque

By Rene Belleque
(Epsilon Nu chapter, Boise State University)

John Shertzer, the author of Fraternal Thoughts, created one of my favorite blog posts that over the past 14 months I’ve referred back to several times—“Road Warriors for Fraternity.” This article always inspired me on the road and, halfway into my second year of traveling, I could not agree more with the statements he makes. On the road, members interested in the chapter consultant position will ask what the life of a consultant is like. These are the most amazing conversations, and I will spend, quite literally, over two hours talking about what makes being a consultant so worthwhile. There are countless professional benefits consultants develop, but what truly sets this position apart? What makes us live out of suitcases for weeks at a time and find ourselves in airports each week? Why do we love what we do? Many chapter consultants will tell you we are living the dream job. While I wholeheartedly agree with that statement, I believe being a consultant is so much more than that.

It’s your very first chapter visit being welcomed with open arms by sisters you just met at the airport.

It’s those same sisters in your room until 1:00 a.m. while you pack, because you don’t want to say goodbye.

It’s the late nights of recruitment and members coming up to you to tell you how excited they are that the woman they met is now a sister!

It’s a change in flight plans that leads to a road trip with members trying to get back to school.

It’s receiving tweets from members who are excited you’re coming back, and the ones after your visit that say they miss you.

It’s being that shoulder to cry on when things are going wrong.

It’s stopping an officer meeting to let her vent to you, because she needs someone to listen to her.

It’s about seeing the progress a chapter makes in just a few short days and the weeks after you leave.

It’s coming home in December to holiday cards from chapters.

It’s showing an officer how far she has come in her position and the impact she made for the chapter.

It’s helping members see their own potential.

It’s about being okay with admitting you were wrong and made a mistake, but you’re working to fix it.

It’s seeing Ritual grow in a chapter and the passion sisters have for Alpha Chi Omega.

It’s sharing in school spirit for homecoming, Greek Week, or basketball or football games.

It’s “Just Dance” parties and baking cookies while you wait for the snowstorm to end.

It’s building relationships with women across the country.

It’s impacting and changing countless lives, but the one the changes the most is your own.

I would not trade the past 14 months, 60+ flights, 41 visits and countless reports for any other experience. As my second year of traveling winds down, it has been amazing to look back on the experiences I’ve had as a chapter consultant, and I am excited for what the next six months will bring. Regardless of the career path I choose, I know I can do anything after being a “road warrior” for Alpha Chi Omega, the most worthwhile experience I could have dreamed of.

If you want to be a “road warrior” for Alpha Chi Omega, apply to be a chapter consultant today!

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From the Ground Up: Building It Better Than Before

Marszalekby Mishalle Marszalek
(Epsilon Theta chapter, California State University-Sacramento)

In my Alpha Chi Omega experience, I was always starting every situation from the ground up and building it to be better than it was before. This was the view I took every time I stepped into a leadership role such as VP chapter relations and standards, VP Ritual and fraternity Appreciation, and Panhellenic president. Little did I know this mentality would lead me to my dream job.

I am truly living the dream being on the Alpha Chi Omega team. “It is sometimes wiser to follow the dreams of your heart, than the logic of your mind. I am now to follow my heart.” This is a quote that has never been truer than when I left my full-time job to follow my passion for Alpha Chi Omega. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I was hired as a chapter consultant, residing at the University of Arizona. I knew one thing was clear, that I would be starting from the ground up and building a chapter to be the best. This was something I knew how to do.

Flash forward to today, and being looked to by over 200 founding members to teach them everything they need to know. Not only are we teaching them how to be a sorority woman, but an Alpha Chi Omega sister. Resident consultant life is jam-packed with late nights, early mornings, long days, hot Tucson heat, missed meals, lots of coffee, constant emails, phone calls, text messages, meetings, and a constant to-do list that never ends. At times I feel overwhelmed to the point of tears, but then I take a step back and look around me.

I am among over 200 women who are leaders here at the U of A. These women have signed up to be apart of something they have no previous experience or knowledge about. They have no lifetime members to guide them through their new member period. These women want the traditional sorority experience, and they have the opportunity to create this experience for themselves. These women amaze me every day. They love every aspect and detail of Alpha Chi Omega as they learn it. They crave leadership and responsibility, and some of them are only freshmen. They have the drive, passion, and abilities it took me four years to achieve.

I have the privilege of teaching these women how to be Alpha Chi Omega women, but, in reality, these women are teaching me what it looks like to be a real, strong woman. After all, they were Always Alpha Chi, they just didn’t know it until we got here. They chose to “follow the dreams of their heart, rather than the logic of their minds.” They are building traditions of Alpha Chi Omega from the ground up that will last a lifetime. I am lucky enough to get to be a part of this dream. Each one of these founding members of the Beta Lambda chapter at the University of Arizona remind me everyday why I love living the dream of Alpha Chi Omega and why it was wiser for me to “follow the dreams of my heart, rather than the logic of my mind.” I am now and will continue to follow my heart.

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Be Deliberate. Have Purpose. Find Yourself Within Alpha Chi Omega.

Allison Greenby Allison Green
(Alpha Psi chapter, UCLA)

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

As much as I’d like to say that I got this profound quote from an influential orator or a notable philosopher, I must accredit one of my favorite quotes to none other than Dolly Parton. While many may giggle at this, it’s something I’ve taken to heart throughout my time being an Alpha Chi Omega.

My time as a collegian has been one of the most memorable moments of my life, and I’m not just referring to the countless inside jokes, all-nighters with sisters, or the Facebook and Instagram pictures. What really defines my experience with Alpha Chi Omega are the qualities within myself ignited by being a part of this organization. As I signed my bid in the Greek life office at UCLA, I had no idea that I was signing up for personal and professional development that would help me become the woman I always wanted to become.

The deciding factor of why I ultimately chose Alpha Chi Omega was our philanthropy of domestic violence awareness. And while I never held the office of VP philanthropy, I felt a strong connection to the prevention education aspects of the cause. The connection was so strong that our philanthropy led me in my course of study as a women’s studies major as well as my future goals in becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist. Since I was 18 years old, I knew the mission of women helping women would also be my mission, and I’m so glad that I had my sorority to reaffirm my goals.

While my experience with the Fraternity directing my future may seem very specific to only me, I am completely confident that every one of my sisters can find purpose (or get affirmation) in their life through their involvement with our sorority. Some of the most gratifying conversations that I’ve had with my chapters as I travel as a consultant are those when officers tell me why they chose their position. Often they gush about how it was the job they always knew they wanted. They tell me about all of the successful things they’ve done or ideas they would love to implement. And they always apologize for “geeking out” about why they love their job, but I encourage them to tell me more! Even if a member doesn’t hold an office, members find their niche in committees as they help out for events. Whether it’s event planning, social media, service or just being a people person, the way you use your skills and contribute to your chapter reveals so much about who you are or who you might aspire to be.

Whether you’ve spent four years or one year as an Alpha Chi Omega collegian or whether you’re an active alumna or if you’d like to get more involved, I encourage you to reflect on what drew you to Alpha Chi, what kept you an Alpha Chi, and how does Alpha Chi continue to shape your life. Let Alpha Chi Omega help you find out who you are, and once you discover that, live it deliberately! Do it on purpose!

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Why Alpha Chi?

Bickelby Chelsie Bickel
(Alpha Pi, University of North Dakota)

I haven’t been traveling long, but I know one thing is for sure about each Alpha Chi Omega chapter that I visit. Each member joins, stays and loves Alpha Chi Omega for the same reasons. I ask collegians “Why Alpha Chi?” to get them thinking back to why Alpha Chi Omega means so much to them, so, hopefully, they can channel those answers to potential new members going through recruitment. It is a great recruitment tool, but I ask for another reason as well. I want to see what Alpha Chi Omega really means to them. It’s funny how all the answers are very alike.

Sisters all have a similar love for Alpha Chi in their hearts. Each woman joins because of the many different personalities, ideas, opinions, interests and experiences each woman brings to the table. These things are so unique on their own, but as a whole, these things complement the sisterhood. Our sisters love this sisterhood because each individual woman is celebrated and encouraged to be herself. It is the place where members feel at home and most comfortable. Sisters act more like family and will stand by a sister on her best day, as well as her worst.

This amazing organization has done so much for me; it is clear that it has done so much for other Alpha Chi Omegas, too. Sisters are like family, but who are these women? When asked, collegians have shared that their sisters are cheerleaders, therapists, dance partners, confidants, personal stylists, study buddies, a shoulder to cry on and more. These answers continue to flow from each of their mouths, but some struggle to find the right words.

As a collegian, I wondered what other Alpha Chi Omegas would be like. Were they the women I could see myself going on many exciting adventures with, but would also be the women to spend a night-in with a favorite movie? Would they make me laugh until I cried? Would they be there to give me tough love when I needed it and pick me up when I was down? The answer to all of these questions is yes. I knew these things spoke to my own chapter experience, but how could thousands of chapters nationwide echo the same thing? I can say now that after meeting countless Alpha Chi Omegas from all over the country, each sister is a real, strong woman. Whether I am in Kansas, Tennessee, or Michigan, the message is the same. We are all confident, passionate, caring, genuine women.

So, my answer to collegians when they ask why they need to think about “Why Alpha Chi?” is simple. We can show potential new members who we are in our thoughts, words and actions. We can tell them about all the amazing things we do for one another, but most importantly, we let the real, strong women that we are shine through. I know that if I can feel it everywhere I go, others will, too.

See how sisters across the country answer “Why Alpha Chi?” every Wednesday on Twitter. Follow along and participate with #whyalphachiwednesday.

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Then, Now and Always

hillarysongerby Hillary Songer
(Alpha Beta, Purdue University)

My mind has recently wandered back to everything Alpha Chi Omega has given me. When I joined my freshman year, I expected the friendships, socials and leadership opportunities as typically advertised during recruitment. However, I learned very quickly that Alpha Chi Omega would offer me many more opportunities to individually grow and build strong relationships.

As an undergraduate who lacked confidence at the start of my college experience, my new sisters immediately encouraged me to embrace ample opportunities and to take on new challenges. I was encouraged and challenged to learn both academically and culturally, to grow personally, to build strong friendships, to take on leadership roles, to show compassion and humility, and to ultimately strive for excellence in every aspect of my life. Through the challenges and experiences provided by Alpha Chi Omega, I personally grew and developed during my collegiate years. I became more compassionate and humble through my exposure and involvement in service and philanthropy. My involvement as Panhellenic delegate, philanthropy chair and vice president of operations for Panhellenic shaped me into a quality leader. All of my experiences and growth were made possible because of the help and support of my sisters. The women of our organization helped to build my confidence and character every step of the way.

Looking back at everything Alpha Chi Omega gave me as a collegian, I realize more than ever that its giving has never stopped. Currently as a consultant, Alpha Chi Omega is continuing to provide me with opportunities and challenges just like I experienced as an undergraduate. I have had the opportunity to meet more sisters with whom I will grow , enhancing my experience even further. I am excited to start my travels across the U.S.; meet incredible sisters; and give back to the organization that has given so much to me. I look forward to collaborating with our members to strengthen the bond of our sisterhood by building confidence in our sisters, helping them personally grow and guiding them in the direction of their chapter’s future success.

Through this opportunity as a consultant, I accept the challenge of strengthening our sisterhood, exceeding the boundaries of sorority life, and continuing to guide and assist each member toward her endeavors and aspirations. It is my turn to give back to our organization by fostering confidence and excellence during my chapter visits, using all of the important skills that Alpha Chi Omega has taught me. I am proud to be a part of an amazing team that carries on our tradition and Ritual. My experience with Alpha Chi Omega has shaped me into the strong sorority woman that I am today, and it will continue to shape me into the even stronger sorority woman that I aspire to be.

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The Myth of the “Non-Sorority” Sorority

Devon Yamauchi

by Devon Yamauchi
(Nu chapter, University of Colorado)

It’s a phrase I’ve heard said with pride from sisters around the country: “We are the ‘non-sorority’ sorority.” To them, it’s a selling point to be used during recruitment to describe the Alpha Chi Omega experience. And in that moment, a part of me cringes. After all, women sign up for sorority recruitment to find the sorority experience; and we are, in fact, a sorority.

But I know what they mean.

In a world of popular culture where “sorority girls” are commonly objectified as sex objects; where sororities can be perceived as reinforcing gender stereotypes; and the whole Greek experience is often equated with binge drinking, promiscuity, and general irresponsibility, I can see why some would want to lay claim to the idea of the “non-sorority” sorority. But the “non-sorority” sorority is a myth. Why? Because the idea of “non-sorority” means rejecting everything that “sorority” means, including our past.

To put it into perspective, Alpha Chi Omega was founded 35 years before the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote; 87 years before the passage of Title IX, banning sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs and activities; and nearly 100 years before women would match the college enrollment numbers of men. It was within this patriarchal society and male dominated environment that our seven Founders came together. Their sisterhood was built upon a shared struggle for the precursors of true equality, on the understanding and empowerment that only one woman can offer to another, and on the belief that together they could achieve far more than they could alone. It is from this history that the idea of sorority is born and from which we take our open motto: Together let us seek the heights. This is a history of which we can all be fiercely proud.

When I joined Alpha Chi Omega, I was a different person. I was shy, uncomfortable in my own skin, and afraid of my own potential. My sisters saw that potential and forced me to embrace it, believing in me even when I lost faith in myself. To say that Alpha Chi Omega changed me would be misleading. Rather, in the spirit of our founding, my sisters, my mentors, my friends, helped me to become the woman I was always meant to be.

My experience, though life altering, is not unique. At every chapter I visit, I see the growth that takes place—from the eager new members, just beginning to realize their potential; the big sisters, learning what it means to be a role model and a mentor to their little sisters; to the seniors, confident and independent women, ready to take charge of their lives. I do my part where I can, and I am reassured to know that this is the natural life cycle of the organization.

This is what “sorority” means. This is what “sorority” is. It is a true sisterhood, based upon our shared values, our struggles, and our experiences with what it means to be a woman in each passing era. It is finding support and empowerment within one another; and once found, it is passing it on to make the path a little easier for our sisters and our daughters.

It is this sense of inclusivity, empowerment, and camaraderie that our sisters are trying to describe with the term “non-sorority,” but as our experience has shown, this experience could not be more “sorority.”

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The Greatest Gift

Stephanie Elizondoby Stephanie Elizondo
(Delta Kappa chapter, Sam Houston State University)

Throughout my eight months of travels, I have been given several versions of gifts varying from my favorite candy to a teddy bear in remembrance of a chapter—giving me yummy late night snacks or something to cuddle with when I am lonely. While these gifts have meant so much to me, they are not the ones that will remain once my time as a chapter consultant comes to an end. The women I have met may not realize it, but the most memorable gifts that I have received have actually been given to me during my time at the 21 chapters I have visited. What is this gift you might ask? Well it’s quite simple. It is the gift of not only starting relationships with the sisters that I have had the chance to meet, but also getting to witness their relationship with Alpha Chi Omega grow in their unique way.

The gifts that will remain with me forever are the experiences.
Eating meals with different sisters is always a highlight of my day because I love getting to try new food in every place I visit. While getting to try some fantastic barbeque, the memory I will take with me is getting to go on an adventure with two freshman sisters to find Cam Newton on campus. Although we didn’t find him, and quite frankly I wouldn’t have been able to distinguish him from another student, I was able to show those two sisters that headquarters visitors aren’t scary. They also gave me the gift of remembering my first collegiate encounter with a chapter consultant. I wanted to show her as much as Sam Houston had to offer, and even though we didn’t have a Heisman winning football player to hunt down, she built a relationship with me that I still cherish.

Getting packets of gummy bears in my welcome basket are very much appreciated when I am up late at night working on my reports. The memory I will take with me is eating those gummy bears with a junior sister that has somewhat lost her way because the chapter does not resemble the one she joined her freshman year. It’s putting my reports aside to discuss what Alpha Chi Omega has brought to her life and why she shouldn’t just give up because I have been in her shoes wishing someone would have listened. She gave me the gift of trust even though we had only met that morning; and that means more to me that she’ll ever know.

Being from Texas, the thought of traveling to a place where people probably thought that Texans still ride horses to work was absolutely terrifying. The closest thing I had to knowing the Los Angeles culture came from Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA.” Would a house full of California women accept a big haired Texan sister? Ya’ll, I should never have had a doubt! The intensity of the individual relationships I created with every member of that chapter… I left a piece of my heart when I closed their gated door behind me for the last time. While I still carry photo booth pictures with me to remember the fun times that we had, the gift I will never forget will be staying up all night decorating for preference in order to make sure that each potential new member could see how this home could soon be theirs if they gave it a chance.

When I joined Alpha Chi Omega, I came into a chapter with over 50 years of history and tradition to help foster my relationship as a new member. This year, I was given the gift of witnessing that relationship start from scratch during the recolonization of the Delta Rho chapter at the University of Arkansas. I was able to show these women what a relationship with Alpha Chi Omega would mean, and in turn, they reassured me of the decision I made four years ago. While being out in the Arkansas sun surrounded by swarming bees was less than desirable, being sent pictures of their bid day cards, since I was unable to witness the start of their personal relationship with Alpha Chi, made all the horrible tan lines worth it. The memories of witnessing strangers become friends then becoming sisters are ones that will forever remain in my heart.

I was once told that being an Alpha Chi Omega was like being in a relationship.
Paula Fultz, a 1969 Gamma Rho (Texas Tech University) alumna, explained that she had been married to Alpha Chi Omega longer than she has been married to her husband, and we must always remember the vows we made during our initiation. That just like every normal relationship, being a member of this fraternity would have its ups as well as its downs. That you must give as much as you take, and it will not always be easy but that it would be worth it. This message has stayed with me during my entire collegiate experience and even more so now as I’ve traveled as a chapter consultant.

While my relationship over this past year has been a roller coaster of emotions, I know I will walk away from it stronger than before. If I’m being honest, there were times when I thought about giving up, when I was so exhausted and overwhelmed I wanted to break down and cry. But, there were more times when I smiled, laughed, learned, or started a new relationship that kept me going. I can tell you, there are few things more fulfilling than having members from chapters I visited, to this day, still tell me thank you. Thank you for being their friend; for listening; for giving honest advice, encouragement and those extra pushes they sometimes needed. When I started my travels, I never thought I would be able to visit a chapter for four to five days and leave having created such strong relationships so quickly.

Now that my time as a chapter consultant is coming to a close, and I will soon be able to plan my days outside of an excel spreadsheet, I am looking for the next path in my Alpha Chi Omega relationship. A Zac Brown Band song came on the radio and it summed up my current feelings. While I have heard this song throughout my life, now the words mean so much more:

I’ll always think of you and smile
And be happy for the time
I had you with me
Though we go our separate ways
I won’t forget so don’t forget
The memories we made

While saying goodbye brings me to tears, the fact I even got to say hello in the first place… That is one of the greatest gifts I will ever receive in my relationship with Alpha Chi Omega.

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A Give and Take: Life Lessons Learned as a Resident Chapter Consultant

Laura Nelsonby Laura Nelson
(Zeta Xi chapter, University of North Carolina-Greensboro)

Having been on the road as a 2011-12 traveling chapter consultant, and loving every minute of it, I was thrilled for the new adventure that being a resident chapter consultant at UNC-Wilmington would bring. Over the course of my traveling year, I experienced many firsts… first time on a plane by myself, first time wearing business casual on a carnival ride, first time eating beignets in the French Quarter of New Orleans, first time packing eight-weeks-worth of clothing into one 50-pound suitcase, first time getting only six hours of sleep over the course of four days (#SECrecruitmentlife), first time having someone else pump my gas (New Jersey)… My first year traveling for Alpha Chi Omega taught me how to deal with many firsts. However, what I was to learn my second year were the life changing lessons while working with a colony.

September of 2012: My heart was full as we went through the process of recruiting the founding members who would become the future of the Kappa Pi colony. After months of training, planning, recruiting and retaining, we had a new member class of 95 outstanding women who were ready to take the sorority world by storm. Each of them full of excitement for what was to come. All eager to get their hands on a leadership position in which they could start to mold the foundation of the colony. It was my job to ensure their new member experience was full of “ah-hah” moments and pride swelling understanding.

So, we chipped away, piece by piece, and as they learned, it became more and more evident that these women were meant to be Alpha Chis from the very beginning. The transformation from friends to sisters happened so quickly. It was a beautiful thing to watch and the one thing I was most looking forward to. As a sisterhood enthusiast, you can imagine how much time I spent ensuring the happiness of the chapter members. I poured my love into them daily, and it was reflected into my life; to see your sisters happy, it must be the best feeling in the world! It became obvious that these women were becoming true sisters in the Bond. That fact is proven in every kind gesture shared among sisters, each hug after a long spring break, a sweet text thanking someone for planning an “awesome ‘first-ever’” event, and that excited smile and wave as they walk to class proudly sporting their Alpha Chi Omega letters.

As I reflect, it’s clear to see that as I was shaping their knowledge of the sorority, they were shaping my heart. It’s a funny thing about life; I expected to give everything I had to these new members, but they were giving right back to me ten-fold.

Compassion? They’ve got it. Creativity? Look no further. Balance and maturity? Check.

I often sit back and marvel at their sense of ambition, all the while having the time of their lives, and realize that this is what it’s all about. Pure and unconditional sisterhood; a give and take of life’s teachable moments shared under one Bond.

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In the Bond, We are Linked Heart to Heart

DevonYamauchiby Devon Yamauchi
(Nu chapter, University of Colorado)

Last weekend, I flew back to Indianapolis, where my journey as a consultant began just one year ago. As I shuttled the eager and hopeful candidates interviewing to be next year’s consultants, it put this past year of my life into sharp perspective. One year ago, I was finishing up my senior year of college, safely surrounded by loving sisters, hoping for a chance to work for the organization that had given me so much, but prepared to be shoved out of the nest into the real world. After being offered my dream job—this one—I was filled with big, but still vague and nebulous dreams of gallivanting around the nation, bringing sisterhood and sunshine with me wherever I went.

Well, my experiences have been a little different than exactly that. First, I don’t know if I have the inherent sunshiny-ness of some of the fabulous consultants I worked with in college, or some of the inspiring women I work with this year. And second, I’ve learned far more about sisterhood than I’ve taught.

In every chapter I visit, the discussion of sisterhood comes up. The members talk about how close they are to one another, how Alpha Chi Omega has become a home away from home, how they feel comfortable talking to anyone in the chapter. When I joined Alpha Chi Omega, I thought sisterhood was about the deep friendships you build with the women you are initiated with, the women who initiate you, as well as the women who you in turn initiate. I thought sisterhood was having fun together, sharing your life stories, and finding that home-away-from-home feeling. I thought it was pushing each other to be the best version of yourself, and to find the people you could be totally honest with. The sisterhood that I have witnessed this year as a consultant is assuredly all of that—but it is so much more.

When I began this job, I didn’t spend more than one or two weeks in the same place, same state, or even the same time zone. I wasn’t home-sick, like I was my freshman year of college, but it was a little overwhelming to meet one hundred or more new faces each week. As each visit wore on though, the members (and advisors) were no longer new faces in a crowd, but women I came to know and respect. They included me in their conversation and jokes; they invited me to join them in whatever they were doing; they took care of me and made sure I had everything I needed; and they confided in me their ambitions, doubts and achievements. Given the work relationship between the consultant and the chapter, I wouldn’t say they became my friends, exactly. Instead, they became so much dearer to me than a mere friend—they became, and will always be, my sisters.

Friends check in on you when you are sick, but sisters hear about it from someone else and come knocking at your door with soup, saltines and ginger ale. Friends come to your birthday party; sisters secretly plan to surprise you with a cake and presents. Sisters hear that you are craving some Girl Scout cookies, or love a shirt they have, and they go out of their way to find it for you. You might know a sister for just a few days, but you can feel a pang in your heart when you realize it is time to leave her.

I can understand why some of our sisters think chapters are different from school to school. They are, of course—but not fundamentally so. There is something special about being an Alpha Chi Omega, no matter what your chapter of initiation. If you take the time to notice it, you’ll feel a spark of recognition when you meet a fellow sister for the first time. You are drawn to her. She is a kindred spirit. Whether or not you can articulate the feeling, it is there. I am lucky. I have had the chance to see this first-hand and to learn it again and again from each chapter I visit.

A chapter I visited sang the song “For Good” from the musical Wicked, for preference. When I heard them sing it for the first time, it affected me in a way it had never done before, even when I’d seen it performed on Broadway. It summed up what I believed sisterhood to be—something powerful, irrevocable and transcendent:

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part:
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You’ll be with me,
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end,
I know you have re-written mine
By being my [sister].

I may never again see many of these women—my sisters—who have had such a powerful impact on me this year, but I can promise that I will never forget them or what they have taught me about the meaning of true sisterhood. Sisterhood is about those deep and sustained friendships we create, but it is also about that instant connection based on shared values and perspective. It is something both intrinsic and intangible. But for all this, our sisterhood can simply be summed up in that no matter what year or chapter of initiation, in the Bond, we are linked heart to heart.

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Where the Magic Happens

KristinDonnellby Kristin Donnell
(Alpha Nu chapter, University of Missouri)

“To shed the light of love and friendship round me.” That’s one of my favorite lines of our Symphony.  In fact, just this week, I challenged Kappa Omicron’s executive board to live this line of the Symphony on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. This line of the Symphony is one of the reasons the Greek experience is so relevant in the lives of collegiate women today.  Alpha Chi Omega not only provides a support network; it teaches us to be active in forming positive relationships with the people around us.

Not so long ago, I was a potential new member experiencing the production of formal recruitment for the very first time on a large university campus. I was looking for a place to get involved and a chance to live the four years my parents had from their own Greek experiences. But most of all, I was looking for a way to surround myself with friends and people who cared about each other. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?

There’s something about recruitment. Whether you are a potential new member or a lifetime member, you always begin with women around that start as your ‘sisters’, but somehow become your best friends for the rest of your life. For this reason, recruitment has always been my favorite time of the year. It is when I first fell in love with Alpha Chi Omega—when I first felt the light of love and friendship round me, if you will.

As Kappa Omicron’s resident consultant, I had the privilege of guiding this new chapter through their very first formal recruitment this past January. As a consultant, we teach endless conversation workshops and chants, and spend hours doing dress checks. We are happy to do it, and we take pride in the success of every chapter we work with. But that isn’t where the magic happens.

The magic is in that one member who becomes an entirely different person, with eyes that light up every time she answers a question, going out of her way to assist with anything possible. She has found purpose in recruitment. It is in the member that was supposed to leave to work on painting a banner, but can’t rip herself away from watching her sisters perform the preference ceremony over and over again. She has found her purpose in our sisterhood. It is in that half a second when two sisters catch each others’ eyes and can’t help but smile, because they have become best friends. They have found their purpose in our bond.

This year, I watched Kappa Omicron live in a world where they could shed that light of love and friendship round them for two weeks while they prepared for and executed formal recruitment—and you better believe it was magical. One year ago, this chapter was brand new to the idea of sisterhood. Over the past six months, I have watched their struggles and successes, like any other chapter, but I have also watched them grow into sisters and friends.

Kappa Omicron finished their preference ceremony singing “In This Very Room.” For those of you who may not be as familiar with this song, they lyrics are:

In this very room,
there’s quite enough love for all of us,
quite enough love for all of us.
And there’s quite enough joy,
and quite enough laughter,
to chase away any gloom.
For my sisters, all my sisters
are in this very room.

In that very room, I found the purpose of Alpha Chi Omega as an organization. It may be 800 miles from the place where I first heard this song, but really, it is still the same ‘room.’  In that very room, I found my purpose as a chapter consultant and renewed my commitment to be a lifelong member.

The final time the chapter sang the words of the song, nobody could doubt the emotion in the room. The lifetime members stood in a circle around the potential new members and didn’t just sing the words of a song, they were singing a song about each other. They were shedding their light of love and friendship and actually extending it past each other, so it was felt by each potential new member in the room. The next day, Kappa Omicron welcomed 55 new members. That’s the magic of recruitment! …When our Symphony and Ritual come alive through our members—inspiring the sense of sisterhood which in the end, we are all looking for.