Discovering A Life-Changing Platform Amid Pagentry
As many of our members can tell you, Alpha Chi Omega has a long lasting impact on your life. Our sisterhood, the lifelong friendships and memories made are all amazing benefits of joining Alpha Chi Omega. For me, it is our philanthropy of domestic violence awareness that has changed my life.
When I first heard that Alpha Chi Omega supported survivors of domestic violence I was intrigued and elated, as I have a family member who is a survivor. After joining Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Kansas in 2009, I became an advocate at the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence, Kansas. I met so many strong survivors working hard to become independent from their abusers. I found it was very gratifying to be able to help them and give them resources to build a better life for themselves and their children. While advocating, I learned some horrifying statistics like one in three women in the world will be abused by an intimate partner and that three women are murdered by their partner each day in the United States. Although I was already advocating, I felt compelled to do everything I could to help end this epidemic.
I considered many ways to accomplish this goal but with the encouragement and support of my sisters I began to compete in local pageants. I chose to compete in the Miss America Organization because each contestant must pick a platform; an issue they are passionate about and will promote with their title. Because of my experiences at The Willow Domestic Violence Center, I chose teen dating violence prevention as my platform.
Pageantry and promoting my platform became a huge part of my life and thanks to my sisters, I was able to handle it all! I continued to advocate at The Willow but also began to intern and learn more about the harmful effects of domestic and dating violence. Through The Willow, I had so many amazing opportunities. I was invited to the state capital to lobby for the funding of domestic violence centers in Kansas and also spoke before the Senate about dating violence policies in public schools. After this, I was afforded the opportunity to have personal meetings with Kansas senators about dating violence and became a co-coordinator for the teen dating violence prevention program at The Willow. All of this led to my being named a Douglas County Volunteer of the Year in the spring of 2012.
Advocating for domestic and dating violence awareness has changed my perspective on many things in life and continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. In June 2012, I was awarded first-runner-up at the Miss Kansas pageant, but even more exciting my sorority sister Sloane Lewis was crowned Miss Kansas 2012 and will compete at Miss America in January!
Without the support of my sisters I would have never been able to accomplish all of these things during my college years. I will carry the lessons I’ve learned while advocating for domestic violence awareness and being a part of Alpha Chi Omega with me for the rest of my life. I feel truly blessed to be part of an organization that has taught me how to be a real, strong woman.