By Laura Urrutia
(Alpha Chi chapter, Butler University)
My name is Laura Urrutia, and I am one of two resident consultants working with the new Alpha Chi Omega colony at the University of Arkansas. These last few very exciting and intense weeks are a culmination of over a year of planning and work from our incredible headquarters staff and alumnae. Today, my resident consultant partner, Anne Stone, and I have the privilege of helping to start something that will last forever—bringing the Delta Rho chapter home again to Fayetteville.
When I was offered this opportunity with Alpha Chi Omega, I had a vast love and enthusiasm for Alpha Chi, but I knew little to nothing about colonization. In fact, when I heard the word ‘colonization’ the first image that popped into my mind was pilgrims! I’d never been to Arkansas. I didn’t know that both the Duggars and Walmart call the state home. And I had no idea the Ozarks are the breathtaking backdrop of northwest Arkansas. What I found in Fayetteville and what I learned about colonization is that it is perhaps the most meaningful experience that Alpha Chi Omega has to offer—to our colonizing members, to our supportive alumnae, to our tireless headquarters staff, to our visionary national council and especially to two resident consultants.
Of course, there are a lot of misconceptions about colonization. No worries though—consider me your myth-buster!
Myth #1: We might not find the right new members.
Nothing could be further from the truth! From the moment we set foot on campus, the potential new members we met impressed with their drive, passion and willingness to take a chance on something new. On Bid Day, I could see the realization in their eyes that the bid card in their hand held incredible opportunity and promise. Just like every other chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, we recruited outstanding women based on our membership standards. I can assure you that these founding members are the complete Alpha Chi Omega package, and then some! They are excellent students; future leaders; and above all, real, strong women. They have a genuine passion for Alpha Chi Omega—a different kind of eagerness and anticipation than I’ve seen in traditional new members. They understand what it means to be the first to start something that will last forever, and they have thoughtfully accepted the responsibility to establish a lasting legacy of Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Arkansas.
Myth #2: This new chapter will be on its own.
I can assure, this colony is not left to fend for itself. There is an incredible group of 16 alumnae who form the advisory board for this new colony. They have volunteered their time and talent to support our new colony every step of the way. Some of these advisors are Delta Rho alumnae themselves, and this colonization is a true homecoming for them. Some have told me it’s on their bucket list to see their chapter back at the University of Arkansas. Others tear up just thinking of the opportunity these founding members will have. Guided by this group of advisors, scores of northwest Arkansas area alumnae, dedicated headquarters staff, and myself and Anne, this colony is truly overflowing with love and support as they start their Alpha Chi Omega journey!
Myth #3: The founding members will have “less” of an experience because it is a new chapter.
Of course, our founding members will have a unique experience because they have the opportunity to start the traditions that will be the foundation of this colony’s sisterhood. However, their chapter life will not be less. Our team has put together and continues to plan for a full roster of sisterhood events, chapter meetings, campus and social functions, and philanthropy events. We hit the ground running and are devoted to making our members’ early days rich and rewarding. The Greek community at the University of Arkansas also welcomed Alpha Chi Omega with open arms and made sure our new colony feels right at home from the very beginning. I’m so excited for our founding members to create their vision for the Delta Rho chapter and to share many of the same impactful experiences I had as a new member.
Myth #4: If you can’t start as a freshman, it’s not ‘worth’ joining.
As I spoke to potential new members who were upperclassmen, many were concerned they would not get the full four-year experience. It was easy for me to tell them that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, your years as a collegian with Alpha Chi Omega are just the beginning of a lifetime of sisterhood. As a recent graduate and young alumna, I cannot tell you how vivid this truth is to me now, underscored by the colonization process. Working alongside our Delta Rho alumnae, our National Council and many other alumae has made me realize that when it comes to Alpha Chi Omega, the best is always yet to come. When these founding members graduate and continue on to make their mark in the world, they will not only have their Delta Rho chapter sisters, but also an entire network of 200,000-plus sisters across the country. There is always a time and place in your life for Alpha Chi Omega, no matter how big or small a role you choose.
I cannot wait to see where these incredible new members take the future of Delta Rho. I feel honored to work with them and look forward to making memories and building the foundation of Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Arkansas.