Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega

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Good Luck to Our Chapter Consultants!

Arianna MaggardBy: Arianna Maggard
Associate Director – Consultant Training & Volunteer Support
Kappa Xi, University of West Florida

About eight months ago, the consultant journey began for our newest class of road warriors. They applied, interviewed and were chosen from the many applicants to represent Alpha Chi Omega during this upcoming school year. I think I speak for the rest of our headquarters staff when I say, we have a pretty spectacular group and we can’t wait for you to meet them throughout their travels!

Our chapter consultants began as strangers, who then spent the last six weeks of training becoming the best of friends. Each one is filled with an undeniable passion for Alpha Chi Omega, and they surprise me every day with their positivity, energy and wisdom. Not to mention, their killer dance moves, silly jokes and unbeatable style! I feel so lucky to have had the chance to get to know this team and prepare them for one of the best years of their lives.

Speaking from personal experience, this year has a lot in store for these women. They will have their ups and downs; some travel delays, but hopefully no lost bags; some challenges, but even better successes; bid days; sisterhood events; recruitment and more. But most of all, this year is sure to fill each of them with an even deeper love for Alpha Chi Omega because of all of you: the sisters they’ll meet on the road. The collegians, executive board officers, new members, alumnae, advisors and future Alpha Chi Omegas of the world have the power to change these women’s lives just as much as they have the power to change yours.

Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know these consultants during their travels. They will be forever grateful to you for opening your home to them, waking up early and making a trip to the airport, showing them the trendiest place to eat in town, inviting them on a Target run and sharing a little piece of your Alpha Chi story (maybe even over a coffee date – they love that!).

But please don’t forget to also open your hearts and minds to our consultants as they spend their year with you. Listen to their advice, learn from them and allow them to make an impact on your Alpha Chi Omega experience. Take something away from their visit with you and always remember that they are your sisters in the bond.

Over the next few weeks, we will be spotlighting our consultants on our blog to help you get to know them even more.  I hope you are impressed, inspired and – more than anything – proud to have them represent your sisterhood this year. Get excited to meet these real, strong women and join me in wishing our consultant team the best of luck as they hit the road!

Follow their journey on the Consultant Chronicles and our Facebook page. #AXOCC!

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More Than Sisters

KristineBy Kristine Bachicha
Gamma Tau, Oklahoma City University

If I had to describe my experience in Jamaica thus far, it would be that through everything we do, my Alpha Chi sisters and I have learned to let go, open our minds and jump in. The first day we arrived in Jamaica, eighteen of us who had not met before were thrown into a new environment. We all had to let go of any insecurities and begin bonding right away, which pushed me out of my introverted shell. On our first full day in Jamaica we literally jumped into the ocean before swimming into a cave with bats. This was a great representation of our group diving into a new culture with new people.

Our first two work days involved scraping walls, painting and making mortar and cement for fixing construction issues. We all quickly realized how important it is to have an open mind when experiencing a new culture. When you are not open to new possibilities, you limit yourself to what you can learn. It was very interesting to be a part of the process in making our own mortar and cement to be used. The Jamaican children from the school we were serving were very welcoming and openly let us join in their recess games. Being open to trying new foods, getting your hair braided by Jamaican children and spending a day working on a cottage were all necessary to get as much out of the process as possible.

Today involved a long and very packed bus ride, which was balanced out by beautiful waterfalls and refreshing water. The theme for today was definitely adventure. Some of us jumped off a rope swing or jumped into a waterfall. None of us were sure what to expect after leaving our first location to which we had already gotten accustomed. We loved the new location with a pool, until the power went out. We kept a positive attitude by taking a flashlight lit tour, telling ghost stories and going on a journey to get ice cream. The break from work and reflection on our achievements and our lives as a whole led us to really appreciate our vacation day and time here with each other. It was clear today that we are no longer just sisters brought together for a common purpose, but great friends.

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A New Perspective

003By Joelene Dittman
Delta Tau, Minnesota State University Mankato
My first day in Jamaica has already been quite the adventure! After going through immigration and navigating our way around the Jamaican airport, we knew we were in for quite the cultural experience.
The minute I connected with all of my sisters from across the nation, I could sense the passion, excitement and ambition from each of my sisters. Our adventure of this wonderful culture started with an hour and a half bus ride from the airport to the Whistling Bird Resort. The beach was calling all Alpha Chi’s; there was no doubt that we would take a swim, lay out on the beach and take lots of pictures during the beautiful sunset.
The Jamaican culture already has so much to offer. Dinner was served family-style with coconut chicken, soup and side dishes. It is easy to see the local Jamaicans’ charisma, the passion they have for their culture and how welcoming they are to visitors. Tomorrow we will be going to church, setting out on more adventures and making even more memories. Tonight consisted of a whole-group reflection, in which everyone contributed and discussed their thoughts about this journey so far. 009
We have come to a consensus: this Global Service Project will not only help us become global citizens but will also help us view people and places in a new perspective, as well as form a new sisterhood that will result in making an impact on an area that is in such need. I am far beyond blessed to be a part of this endeavor and could not ask for a better group of girls and trip advisors to help us seek the heights and accomplish so much.
LITB, Joelene Dittman
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Surprises and Sisterhood in Jamaica

007By Camilla Cluett; Alpha Gamma, The University of New Mexico

Each part of my experience with the Global Service Initiative so far has been surprising. The first surprise came when I was on the shuttle from campus to my apartment and received the email, which I thought might be one of rejection, but said I was selected to come on this trip.

The second came when I left the airport and found our project coordinator standing on her seat, smiling and waving frantically to get my attention. My first steps in Jamaica, and I already felt welcomed and at home.

The third surprise was when everyone learned that it was my birthday, which many might give credit to the fact that it was the wi-fi password. Then, once everyone arrived in Negril, we swam for about three whole hours before dinner. I was quite surprised at how easily the conversations flowed and, more so, at how great of friends we were becoming within hours of meeting.

The very last (and my favorite) surprise was the spectacular sunset which wrapped up our first day in Jamaica. It just so happened to be the first sunset here in weeks. I like to think it was Mother Nature’s way of welcoming us and giving us a glimpse into how beautiful this trip will turn out to be. I know that there will be many more fun and exciting surprises to come on this trip, and I look forward to experiencing all of them with my sisters, and friends, by my side!

 

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How Ritual Can Inspire Healthy Financial Decisions

Meredith_blog

By Meredith Denton-Rines
Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University – Springfield

It’s been five years since I was a collegiate member of Alpha Chi Omega. I carry lessons from Alpha Chi with me every day and plan to do so for the rest of my life. Some of my favorite memories are of laughing with my sisters. However, the Ritual of Alpha Chi has deep roots in my heart and is what guides me.

Alpha Chi was the place where I first learned about being financially responsible, a lesson I had to quickly learn as the director of finances for Panhellenic.

The love of finance came quickly to me. I am now a financial advisor with a mission to help women create a path to reach their specific goals. I’ve realized that our Ritual keeps us in tune to reach our financial goals. With our Ritual and values in mind, I want to share tips on making healthy financial decisions for the rest of your life.

Wisdom & Devotion & Together Let Us Seek the Heights
You must work as a team to reach your goals, just as Alpha Chi Omega’s motto states, “Together let us seek the heights.” Your team may no longer be your sorority sisters. Maybe you’re an independent single woman, or perhaps you have a spouse and family. In college you demonstrated wisdom and devotion by studying to achieve good grades. You even took time to help others by getting involved in and taking an interest in others’ success. Now you have the chance to use your focus and study skills to make savvy money choices.

You are an educated, bright woman who understands the value of knowledge. As you get older, you also understand the importance of continuing your education. In doing so, you are able to make sound financial decisions. Planning for your retirement is like planning for a class project: you list your priorities and research options, construct a plan and then move forward.

TIP: Gain knowledge about retirement planning and saving. I recommend talking to a financial advisor early to create a plan. It’s easy to let life get in the way of preparing for the future, but you need to make sound financial decisions now, when it matters most. Starting a savings plan while in your 20s can make a huge impact on your future retirement. Start now.

Achievement
You may have achieved a leadership role in Alpha Chi and on campus during college; now you must continue being a mentor by taking leadership of your life. You control our own destiny. If you do not take ownership of your goals and your path, no one else will. In today’s world it is becoming more and more acceptable to expect others to take care of you, but you cannot allow that. Only you know what’s the most valuable to you. You must stand up as a leader and know your worth.

Financial Responsibility
I’d like to pull in one of our membership criteria here: financial responsibility. Our sisterhood definitely values being financially responsible, and it fits well with making healthy financial decisions. You learned how to balance your finances in college. Between chapter dues, girls’ nights out, and being able to afford the time of your life, you had plenty to think about. As you graduate and leave college, those financial worries only shift. Instead of chapter dues, you now have mortgage payments. In college you budgeted your time and money so you didn’t have to miss out on any fun adventures. Now you need to budget your money so you can live a debt-free life. You can be a step ahead of others by staying out of debt and “to keep [your] life in tune with the world.” Learning to balance early puts us a step ahead of others.

TIP: Create a budget and learn “to meet with courage the challenges of daily living.” Budgeting is a key to success. You can see where you are and where you want to go, and you can map a clear path to follow.

“To give graciously and to receive no less graciously that others may know the thrill of giving”
This line from our 75-year member ceremony is a great reminder to be philanthropic throughout your life. You learned the importance of philanthropy while in college. Alpha Chi does wonderful things to support real, strong women and prevent domestic violence. By budgeting and saving you will be able to achieve greatness in your life. The ability “to give graciously and to receive no less graciously that others may know the thrill of giving,” is an amazing virtue that you can continue to pass on.

TIP: As you grow older and your time commitments become more involved, it’s easy to stop giving to organizations about which you are passionate. You simply don’t have the time. However, you can give so much more than time by creating a budget and sticking to it. You need to carry on Alpha Chi’s passion for philanthropy throughout your life.

Making healthy financial decisions is not as hard as you might think. You, an Alpha Chi Omega sister, have learned many valuable lessons from our Ritual and values. You get the opportunity to carry these standards and values with you every single day and to apply them to many aspects of your life, including financial decisions.

About the Author:  Meredith Denton-Rines is Director of Marketing and a Financial Specialist at Dairel L. Denton, Jr. & Associates, an accounting and financial planning firm in Southeast Missouri. She enjoys working with women, helping them create an individualized plan to reach their life goals. Connect with Meredith on Twitter and on her blog merelynne.com.

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Give Yourself Over to the Experience

VAW_ball_blog2By Kathryn O’Hagan; Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University

 As a fraternity and sorority advisor, my days, and often my evenings and weekends, are filled with meetings, programs, events and managing crises. Frequently, I get home from work and want to sit in front of my television, binge watch something on Netflix and not think about the stress that was my day. Needless to say, there are times when volunteering more of my time and energy for others does not sound appealing.

But when my life is at its most stressful, there is nothing more fulfilling and gratifying than volunteering my time and energy to serve others. When I feel overstimulated, I try to take the time to serve those who have fewer opportunities than I do. When I’m lacking motivation, I work with students who crave a mentor to motivate them. And when I need to remind myself why I work in higher education, I give myself over to Alpha Chi Omega and remember that I am one of the luckiest people I know. I have the opportunity every day to follow the Panhellenic Creed and “stand for service through the development of character.”

As collegiate members of Alpha Chi Omega, we are charged with participating in all walks of university life. Whether it be in a leadership role in student government or as a general member of the chess club, our involvement should extend beyond our sisterhood. After graduation, that concept should remain steadfast. “To see and appreciate all that is noble in another,” one must put themselves in another person’s shoes. Take the time to continually commit yourself to your sisters, your community and your passions. “Appreciate every little service rendered” by volunteering and providing services to others. Give yourself over to the experience of being a servant leader, and not only will you help others, but it will also put your busy, stressful life into perspective.

What may seem like a small contribution of my time is often more than what is needed. To let your “lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity,” one must be willing to put the needs of others first. I chose my career in part because it enables me to give back on a regular basis. Working to further the fraternal movement is a passion that extends beyond my 9-to-5 life. And while I may need to de-stress sometimes, my days are filled with laughter, learning and caring. I couldn’t imagine a better use of my time.

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Every Difference Makes a Difference

Inaugural Alumnae Global Service Initiative participants

Inaugural Alumnae Global Service Initiative participants, Day 1 in New Orleans

By Britain Dwyre Riley; Beta Eta, Florida State University

Traveling from all corners of America – Alpha Chi Omega alumnae and Alpha Chi headquarter professional staff converged at Camp Restore in New Orleans, Louisiana for the inaugural Alumnae Global Service Initiative Trip. For me, this trip was special. Not only would I be volunteering with my sisters, but I would also be volunteering in my hometown – a city close to my heart. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one that I am humbled to be a part of.

After the regulatory “camp” tour and assignment of “camp chores,” the team took time to relax, unpack and settle in. For many of us, sleeping in bunk beds is a trip down memory lane to our collegiate days in residence halls and chapter facilities; this time, however, the conditions are different. Camp Restore opened in 2006 following Katrina. The camp was a place of hope, a place where those willing to volunteer congregated. Following Katrina, hundreds of volunteers occupied the camp, often sleeping in PODS and FEMA trailers. Nearly a decade after the camp opened its doors it still remains prevalent in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Volunteers continue to fill the gap left behind in the rebuilding of the city.

We were each drawn to apply for this trip for different reasons, but a common theme was a desire to give back surrounded by our sisters. We wanted to strike on the cords of love, unselfishness and sincerity. We wanted to make a difference, giving of ourselves as we are able.

Over introductions and subsequent dinner, we mingled with the leaders of the camp and gained a glimpse into their daily lives and the life of a New Orleanian, post Katrina. Following dinner participants gathered for reflection and were challenged to define our view of the culture of New Orleans. We all found the city to be one rich in heritage and culture. A city of passion and hope. A city rich in the spirit of family. After reflection we watched a documentary that illustrated the city’s trials and tribulations post Katrina and the obstacles that are presented to current residents and those wishing to return to the city. The documentary clearly, and undeniably, showcased the city’s rich and resilient heritage, and left us driven to make an impact in the coming days. As we ended the night we returned to our bunks, each reflecting on the impact that this trip, this city and our fellow Alpha Chi Omega sisters will leave on each other and on the great city of New Orleans.

I head to bed anxious to share this great city and this experience with my fellow sisters who are here and, thru this blog, with sisters across the nation. May each and every sister remember the importance of every service rendered and be inspired to volunteer.  After all, every difference makes a difference.

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Real. Strong. Women. More Than a Tagline

VAW_ball_blog2By Michael Marino, Delta Chi Fraternity

I think it is fair to say that I am not what you would think of as a typical Alpha Chi Omega volunteer. Nevertheless, I am incredibly proud to play a small part in contributing to the work of this organization. Alpha Chi Omega is an organization that truly does what it says it is doing. Real. Strong. Women. is more than a tagline; it is an active practice and an important part of the Alpha Chi Omega experience. Every day, Alpha Chi Omegas demonstrate their strength, and I am honored to contribute to this mission through my volunteer role.

I began volunteering with Alpha Chi Omega when I was a staff member at my own fraternity’s headquarters. During that time, I became close friend with an amazing group of chapter consultants who connected me with the Alcohol Skills Training Program (ASTP). I jumped at the chance to apply my interest in alcohol and drug education to an organization that was proactively addressing these concerns with their members. In the two years since I began facilitating ASTP, I have not been disappointed. Alpha Chi Omega does an incredible job addressing risk management with their chapters, and the wonderful collegians I have met through this role are inspiring. College students don’t always want to talk about alcohol, but the women I have worked with through ASTP have been open-minded and excited to learn more. Each ASTP visit allows me to get to know a new group of women, learn about their chapter’s personality and have critical conversations about alcohol. I know that this role matters for the women in each chapter I visit, and that Alpha Chi Omega cares about its members.

I plan on continuing in this volunteer role for a long time. I believe in the work Alpha Chi Omega does and want to continue contributing to it. This volunteer role has been an enriching experience for me and, I hope, for the chapters I have worked with. As a man and a non-member, it could have been easy to pass up my offer to volunteer, but Alpha Chi Omega has truly embraced me and given me ways to support the organization in a meaningful way. I am so proud to be a volunteer for Alpha Chi Omega because I know that this work is developing real, strong women who will change the world.

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Superwomen

VAW_ball_blog2By Brittany S. Rende, Beta Delta, College of William & Mary

When asked why I volunteer my time for Alpha Chi Omega, I can give the standard answers such as, “I love giving back,” “I want to give the same experience I was fortunate to have,” and “It’s not just four years it’s for life.” While all of these answers apply, I discovered my real “why” at a recent conference.

I was sitting with another Alpha Chi when we were asked to define what being a “superwoman” means to us. We both just started listing Alpha Chi Omegas. Among those we listed were Marsha King Grady, Mary Winkler, Jennifer Crotty and the women who serve on executive boards, especially at our colonies. Working with these women and seeing what they do for our collegians is incredibly inspiring.

Every Alpha Chi Omega I have met has embodied my definition of a superwoman—a woman who strives to be better every day, making the world around her more loving and strengthening her relationships with others. None of us are perfect, but that’s what makes our stories beautiful. I love working with Alpha Chi Omega to learn from these women, both collegians and alumnae, how they manage to do it all and inspire Alpha Chi Omega members to be superwomen.

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Together We Can Do Great Things: LMU Colony Perspective

Hannah_and_AlyssaBy: Hannah Harris; Zeta Xi, University of North Carolina-Greensboro and Alyssa Anderson; Nu, University of Colorado
Resident Consultants of Loyola Marymount University

“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.” – Mother Theresa

Never has this rung more true than when creating a brand new colony. As a team of two consultants on the ground working to create the Loyola Marymount University colony, we know first hand the importance of the team dynamic. From leaning on our consultant sisters who came before us with 4 colonies this fall and our wonderful support at headquarters, to the alumnae in the area willing to step in and help at any moment and the amazing connections we made on campus – building the LMU colony has truly been an effort of the community. And everyday we are blessed to wake up and work with this great colony and all those who are dedicated and involved in its success.

The most rewarding part of all of this has been the progression of finding our leaders in the colony. From the very first moment of our colony formation, we could start to see the potential in women for different roles and different positions within this chapter. As consultants, we strove to help our members see potential in themselves. We are thankful that our job allows us to inspire new leadership in our colony members. It is amazing to see these women harness their strength and courage to step up to take on any leadership role, let alone a leadership role as “the first;” the first chapter president, the first vice president recruitment and all members of the first LMU colony executive board! For us, it all comes down to confidence. We believe in encouraging confidence in our members, our leaders and our colony as a whole! As young leaders, it is easy to be incredibly confident in one area and have confidence lacking in another. This is why we sought officers with varying strengths to fill our executive board. A balanced board allows the women to lean on each other for support, learn from one another, grow as a collective unit and set a precedent for the many years to come at this chapter!

We are confident that this new colony can, and will, reach the heights through their teamwork and devotion to our growing sisterhood! As consultants, we could not ask for a better brand-new executive board. We are so proud of the great things each of them has accomplished in their short time since being elected, and we look forward to watching them grow and continue their great work. This is truly what being a consultant is all about – helping the women of our organization grow into the best versions of themselves: real, strong women.