Kendra Swanson was a resident consultant at the Lambda chapter at Syracuse University for their reestablishment in 2016. Here are her reflections on how she emulated Ritual and saw Ritual in others through her experience.
The values of Alpha Chi Omega have resonated with me throughout my experience both as a collegiate member of the organization and as a staff member.
I had the privilege of serving as the resident consultant for the reestablishment of the Lambda chapter at Syracuse University last year and found that our values shine throughout the entire recruitment and establishment process. I was constantly reminded of the importance of wisdom, devotion and achievement through numerous experiences.
Wisdom was prevalent as I was constantly learning from the dedicated staff, volunteers and establishment team, further enhancing my knowledge of what it means to be an Alpha Chi Omega and how I can serve others in my daily life.
When I think of devotion, I think of the constant and consistent love, loyalty and passion that is given to every event and every aspect of working toward a common goal of welcoming women to membership in Alpha Chi Omega and creating lifelong bonds.
At the end of the semester, I had the opportunity to assist in planning and executing the installation banquet for the members, and this event embodied achievement in every sense of the word. This moment was when all of the puzzle pieces came together, the Lambda chapter of Alpha Chi Omega was officially installed and the values molded into one remarkable experience.
Lambda Chapter, Bid Day Fall 2016
Monica Hiller is vice president recruitment at the Gamma Tau chapter at Oklahoma City University. Monica injected Ritual into Gamma Tau’s recruitment experience by making sure lifetime members thought of others before themselves. She challenged her chapter to think of potential new members’ feelings and experiences while they were going through the recruitment process instead of dwelling on the long days and busyness that is recruitment.
Ritual is the very essence of what makes an Alpha Chi Omega, an Alpha Chi Omega. Without the Ritual, there would be no sisterhood, but without the sisterhood, there would be no need for Ritual. This is where recruitment comes in.
As vice president recruitment this year, it was my job to combine our sacred and secret Ritual with the very public affair that is recruitment – a seemingly impossible task. So how did I do it?
The most important part of recruitment is the week-long preparation for recruitment. Gamma Tau calls this Sisterhood Week. This is a time of sisterhood growth, greater understanding of Alpha Chi Omega and training on the best way to recruit new sisters into the house. I made sure the Ritual was a part of our Sisterhood Week.
Alpha Chi Omega’s Ritual encourages leading a good life of kindness and loyalty. It asks sisters to go beyond themselves and think of others. That is how I led recruitment. We focused on being good people before we focused on being good recruiters. We focused on the thoughts and feelings of potential new members before we focused on our long evenings and sore feet.
The way I interpret Alpha Chi Omega’s Ritual is this: If you’re leading the kind of life that makes the people around you proud, you’re doing a good job. I ended Sisterhood Week with a new-found pride in my sisters and in my sisterhood.
Recruitment is the “what” and Ritual is the “why.” Recruitment and Ritual go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other.
Gamma Tau Chapter, Bid Day Fall 2017
I landed in Tucson, AZ, picked up my three suitcases, and began to slowly navigate my way to the curb. I was met by a friendly chapter advisor and was on my way to officially begin my first visit as a chapter consultant. I was both nervous and excited to start this new chapter in my life. I arrived at the house and was immediately welcomed by a hug from the chapter president. I knew this was the first of many moments that would make me fall in love with this job over and over again the next month and year to come.
However, the real work did not begin until I walked in, introduced myself and was immediately met by a recruitment question. There is no way to accurately describe the feeling you get when a group of 200 women turns around to look at you and expects you to know the answer to their question five minutes into the job. Here was to hoping the six weeks of training paid off! And you know what? They did.
I may not always have an immediate answer to the questions that are asked of me, but through training and having the opportunity to work alongside other chapter consultants as well as headquarters staff, I have gained the critical thinking skills and confidence needed to work through any problem that arises. In just this short month I have sat down with executive board officers and members at large to find solutions and implement new ideas that work for their chapters.
Sometimes people tease that I never truly graduated from college, and while I spend most of my time on college campuses, I have yet to think of a better job. Throughout my collegiate experience, I had the opportunity to work with many chapter consultants, each contributing in her own way to my growth as an individual and the success of our chapter. When I applied for this job, I was looking to give back to an organization that had given me so much. However, as much as I hope I am making an impact on the sisters I interact with, they are also making an impact on me. It is the feeling you get when sisters you just met ask you to clear your schedule to take you to their favorite lunch spot on campus. It is the feeling you get when even after staying up until 3 a.m. to prepare for recruitment, chapter members still show up the next morning with the same amount of enthusiasm they had the day before. It is the feeling you get when you see a chapter’s year of hard work come to fruition as they welcome home a new member class to join not only their chapter, but our sisterhood nationwide.
I am in the business of empowering women, and I would not have it any other way. So, here is to a year of late nights, the never-ending struggle of looking for parking on a college campus, new cities, new friendships, a whole lot of laughs, personal growth and building the ever-growing network of real, strong women across the country.
By Taylor Costa
Kappa Lambda chapter, University of San Diego
During recruitment, I always heard women say that they found their best friends and bridesmaids in their chapter, and even though that may be true, it was hard for me to believe at 18. I never thought I would be the one to call someone “sister” (aside from my younger biological sister), and to be honest I didn’t full buy into the idea of a “sisterhood.” Little did I know that my freshman year I would find a chapter of 160 women that made me feel at home. They made me feel comfortable and gave me a place to be my truest self. That idea of sisterhood became real. Those women were right; I would have never met my best friends and bridesmaids had I not joined Alpha Chi Omega five years ago.
The women I ran to on bid day quickly became my people. We did everything together, from weekends filled with acai bowls at the beach to weeknights full of studying in the lounge until 2 a.m. We were there to celebrate each other when we got into grad school or got our first job offers. We were also there when we needed to cry and remember the life of our sister who lost her battle with cancer. The women of Kappa Lambda were my home and made me believe in the sisterhood I didn’t know I needed. These sisters encouraged me to apply to be a chapter consultant because of the qualities they saw in me that I had yet to find in myself. I cannot begin to thank each and every woman I became friends with during my time in the Kappa Lambda chapter for helping me grow to be the woman I am today.
Lucky for me, the sisterhood I found in Alpha Chi Omega didn’t end with graduation. Last year I became a consultant and met 17 inspiring, motivating and confident women. The sisterhood in Alpha Chi Omega grew by 11 more intelligent, well-rounded and optimistic women this year as I began my second year on the consultant team. These 28 women have changed my life for the better and constantly push me to be the best version of myself. I have spent countless hours FaceTiming, texting and planning trips with these women that I call my sisters and best friends. Some of these I have known for a year and others for less than four months, but I know that the relationships I have with them will last a lifetime.
In a chapter of 160 members, I felt an incredible bond and connection to the women I surrounded myself with. The sisterhood I felt for those four years is something I will always be incredibly thankful for. Being a consultant has given me a sisterhood within the sisterhood. I have met 28 women that inspire me daily, motivate me to do better, give me confidence, make me laugh and help me feel at home (even when we are miles apart).
As weird and hard as it may be to believe, trust those women who tell you that they have found a genuine sisterhood because it’s real. Going through recruitment, it seems too good to be true. I couldn’t imagine myself in the sisterhood the women I had just met were telling me about; now I couldn’t picture my life without it. Over 220,000 women have had the opportunity to feel the loving sisterhood that can be found in Alpha Chi Omega, and I am so lucky to be one of them. I will forever be grateful for the best friends, future bridesmaids and sisters I have found through Alpha Chi Omega.
By: Taylor Tolley
Alpha Omicron, The Ohio State University
After six weeks of summer training, what I am experiencing is completely new, but yet everything I expected. Starting with two planes, two rental cars, two new cities and three suitcases stuffed to the brim, my life as a traveling consultant has officially begun. Even though I cannot believe time has flown so fast, I’ve already marked 25 amazing days on the road.
I originally strived to be a chapter consultant because I wanted to take that next step with our national organization. I felt as if I had given everything I could to my chapter of initiation and wanted to make an impact on sorority women around the world that shared the same values, beliefs and rituals that belonged to Alpha Chi Omega.
What I didn’t know was that in my first 25 days, those same women I wanted to influence would change my life for the better. From incredible recruitment planning and meetings to heart-to-heart conversations, the leadership and power of each woman opened my eyes to experiences outside of my own and have shown me what it is like to be a true sister of Alpha Chi Omega.
As you would probably assume, the 25 days were not all quite so profound. It is a funny thing when you have only been to two places, but realize that you’ll be eating Chipotle, Blaze and Jimmy John’s in a rotation for months to come. Another realization came from my first of what I am sure will be many embarrassing stories. Can you picture a twenty-two-year-old woman, fresh out of college, attempting to push three floral-print suitcases at the same time over airport curbs and cracked sidewalks? How about those same suitcases being unpacked and re-packed at 7 a.m. with grumpy travelers watching because one of them was three pounds over the limit and there was no way I was going to pay that $100 fee? Needless to say, this position has been the perfect way to throw me into the real-world – head first.
Being a chapter consultant has allowed my first “big girl job” to be one I am passionate about and one I look forward to doing each day. Diving head first into the real-world was way better than I could have ever expected. With each experience being a little bit different than the last, it is safe to say I cannot wait for my next 25.
By: Kristin Austin
Theta Psi, Columbia
I started working for Alpha Chi right about one year ago. At that time, I thought I would be traveling in region 1 working with our established chapters in the northeast for the duration of my contract.
Fast forward to today, and I’m writing this blog sitting outside one of the many fountains at Stanford University in California, where I’ve been stationed for the last three months. When I started as a consultant with Alpha Chi I knew there would be a lot of situations where I would need to be adaptable: missed connecting flights, recruitment mishaps, you name it. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was the opportunity to completely change assignments over halfway through the year and become a resident consultant at Stanford. What I also wasn’t expecting was my own ability to handle that change gracefully and be successful in getting the Zeta Iota chapter off to a strong start.
In retrospect, I don’t really know why I was all that surprised. No matter what consultant role you have with Alpha Chi, you will learn. A lot. Sometimes those lessons come gradually over time, and sometimes they come at you pretty hard. You learn how to enjoy your own company, how to be a social chameleon who can mix and mingle with all kinds of people–and influence them too. You learn that collecting t-shirts from all the schools you visit will bring you dangerously close to your 50-pound suitcase weight limit (but you keep buying the shirts anyway, because they’re one of few physical things you’ll ever have to commemorate the experience of working with hundreds, if not thousands, of Alpha Chi’s). You learn that it’s okay to be yourself, even around a group of women you just met, because they are your sisters. And above all, you learn that this experience will make you more confident, more poised and incredibly prepared to take on whatever personal and professional experiences life throws at you once your time as a consultant ends. With my own time as a consultant ending this month, it is these lessons and more that I know will always stick with me, no matter what the future holds.
On Tuesday, April 4, the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation launched its first-ever Day of Giving.
Nearly 800 gifts with over 550 individual sisters and friends of Alpha Chi Omega contributed to the campaign. 119 collegiate chapters donated $18.85 or more and 55 alumnae chapters were represented through alumnae donations.
Thanks to headquarters and foundation staff, sisters and Giving Day Ambassadors, this was a huge success!
We appreciate “every little service rendered” by our ambassadors. We asked some sisters who served as ambassadors for Ritual reflections based on their involvement with the campaign.
Their thoughts on their participation, our sisterhood and Ritual are inspiring.
“…And to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity.”
I had the honor of serving as an ambassador for Alpha Chi Omega’s 2017 Day of Giving campaign. In reaching out to sisters from my home chapter, I thought of this special line in our symphony. Alpha Chi Omega has given me so much, especially in the form of sincere lifelong friends – some of whom will be part of my wedding next year. I felt it was the perfect time to send forth my own chords of unselfishness in hopes to give another sister the opportunity to experience that same sincere friendship for herself.
– Katie Wyrick, Beta Delta
When I think about Day of Giving and how it connects to our symphony, I can’t help but reflect on the line, “to strike on the lyre of the universe only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace.” There is something so powerful about the thought of striking on the “lyre of the universe,” and throughout Alpha Chi Omega’s Day of Giving I think we did just that.
The purpose of this campaign from the Foundation perspective was two-fold: of course we wanted to raise money for the Foundation and Foundation-supported programs, but we also wanted to celebrate the amazing work that Alpha Chi Omega has done for over 130 years to create a sisterhood of empowered real, strong women.
We are an amazing organization and I think it’s just as important to celebrate that within our sisterhood, and with the world, as it is to support it through time and money. Fundraising can be challenging, especially when it’s all online and it can be difficult to feel like you’re making an impact, but throughout our 36-hour Day of
Giving campaign it certainly felt like Alpha Chi Omegas all over the world had such a strong presence in helping us share why it’s so important to have programs and initiatives to support our members that are created by women and for women.
This presence only continues to amaze me when I think about the fact that we raised over $105,000 in 36 hours from 500 donors – if that isn’t empowering I don’t know what is!
– Katie Sherrill, Alpha
“There is a sisterhood whose equal can’t be found. In this loyal bond together we are bound…if you ever need us, we’ll be standing by to give you all we got, all for Alpha Chi.”
Lyrics from one of my favorite Alpha Chi Omega songs, “There Is A Sisterhood,” touched me deeply as a collegian and still ring true decades later as an alumna. I stay involved, donate to the Foundation, and leaped at the opportunity to be a Day of Giving ambassador because I want to give back to the organization that has given me more than I can say and pay it forward so women for generations-to-come can have the same priceless experience of sisterhood and empowerment programming.
– Anne Teaford-Cantor, Alpha Psi
“…to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity…”
I was honored to serve as a campaign ambassador for the Day of Giving. In particular, I chose to support and recruit donors for Social Excellence Training, an amazing program that offers an educational experience for collegiate recruitment officers and their advisors. Like the women who attend this event, I give of my time, talents and treasures in the spirit of love, unselfishness and sincerity. I give to preserve the experience that is Alpha Chi Omega for generations of sisters to come. I could not be more grateful for all of the volunteers and donors to the Fraternity and Foundation!
– Laura Knobel, Iota Alpha
I volunteered as an ambassador for Day of Giving because of the Alpha Chi Omega sisters in my life who have inspired me and who I continue to aspire to be. I fundraised for the Fraternity’s newest program, Women & Wisdom, as I truly believe it exemplifies our mission to create lifelong opportunities of learning for our members. Collegians are able to interact and seek mentorship from sisters across the globe who have expertise in their desired career path. As an alumna, I have used the program myself to learn more about my own field. After just my first session with my mentor, I was absolutely thrilled with all we had discussed! She had a wealth of knowledge that I continue to learn from beyond our monthly one-on-one phone call sessions and a passion to share her experiences with me having worked in the similar professional roles. Because of our sisters’
donations on Day of Giving, Women & Wisdom will continue to be a great success – for collegians and alumnae alike – demonstrating what it means to be a part of a lifelong sisterhood.
– Rachel Haley, Omicron
The Alpha Chi Omega Day of Giving, to me, was a true demonstration of devotion. As both an ambassador and as someone who was able to work behind-the-scenes with our Foundation team to set up the day, the Day of Giving was especially memorable to me. The devotion of the whole Foundation team was evident in all the work they did leading up to the day, and the entire [larger] ambassador team was so devoted to success in our goals! Through the collective devotion to ensuring the future of our Fraternity, we made history for Alpha Chi Omega, and hopefully inspired many young women who are just beginning their Alpha Chi journeys to become just as devoted as this amazing group of real, strong women!
– Lauren Wake, Beta Nu
By: Ashley Williams
Delta Zeta, Central Michigan University
Traveling Consultant 2016-17
Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! It is that magical, yet simultaneously overwhelming, time of year as the big day you have been waiting four years for is quickly approaching. You are probably feeling a rush of emotions – excitement for the next step in your life, surprise as you pick up your cap and gown, sadness as you experience the “lasts” of your college career or anxiety as you study for your last final…ever. Trust me, I have been there. Some of you may be thinking back to your bid day, getting your little or the sisterhood retreat you met your best friends at, and thinking “I am not ready to leave this.” You may be thinking about the countless memories you have made in your chapter, or leaving the women who have been by your side for every high and low of the past four years. You may be thinking, “I am graduating…now what?”
Well, let me tell you, being an alumna of Alpha Chi Omega is just as sweet, and I can guarantee that your journey is not quite over yet. As a consultant, I have had the chance to meet a lot of alumnae over the past two years, women who have made the decision to give back to their chapter or the organization in both big and small ways. I have been inspired by the passion these women have for Alpha Chi Omega, and their dedication to furthering the mission of our sisterhood. I hope that you will consider joining me in staying connected with Alpha Chi Omega in a way that works for you, too!
Need ideas? Here are five to get you started.
This one is easy! Simply log on to the Alpha Chi Omega website and update your contact information. You may consider changing your email from your school email to a personal email and updating your address. This helps headquarters staff and volunteers notify you about any Alpha Chi Omega related opportunity that pops up in your area!
Spend time connecting with sisters as an alumna by investing in existing friendships, or beginning new ones! Whether you choose to mentor collegiate members through the Women and Wisdom program, attend convention in Austin, Texas next summer, or organize yearly reunions with the women in your new member class, the opportunity to connect with sisters is not lost after graduation.
Volunteer at the local or national level as an advisor, specialist, or facilitator. There are always opportunities to stay connected through volunteering your time. These range in terms of time commitment required, but there can be something for everyone! Learn more here.
Whether you are moving somewhere new or are just looking to meet new sisters, you may consider joining an alumnae chapter in your area. Alumnae chapters offer opportunities for networking, leadership development, service and philanthropy, as well as supporting surrounding Alpha Chi Omega chapters. Does this sound like you? You can locate an alumnae chapter in your area here.
If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “gosh, I don’t have the time to give,” there are still ways to positively impact Alpha Chi Omega! Donating to the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation is a sure way to impact our 21,000+ collegiate women. Campaigns like the Day of Giving or Founder’s Day Challenge, allow you to pick exactly where you want your donation to go. Donating on the local level, such as to your chapter of initiation, is also an option. Learn more about how you can give here.
So yes, you are graduating, but you are not alone. You are joining the thousands of women who proudly call themselves alumnae of Alpha Chi Omega, and who have been changed for the better because of this sisterhood. I hope that as you look back at your first few years of membership in Alpha Chi Omega that you are reminded of the fun, growth, and bond you experienced, and are encouraged to stay connected to ensure that our future sisters have even better experiences than we did. How will you decide to stay connected with Alpha Chi Omega as an alumna? Share with us in the comments below!
By: Nina Ries
Epsilon Psi, University of California – Irvine
Alumna Appreciation Award Recipient
Although I typically write on the subject of business and real estate matters, there is an overarching issue that impacts us all.
There seems to be tremendous focus on being “busy” – and the most popular answer these days to “How are you?” seems to be “Busy.” Unfortunately, many seem to think that, because they are “busy,” they can be justified in declining additional responsibility, exploring new opportunities, taking on a new venture, volunteering or joining an alumnae group. I firmly believe that this is a mistake. And this mistake can cost you both personally and professionally.
I’ve never regretted saying yes. This is a refrain I hear often.
After graduating from law school, I went to work for a litigation boutique in Downtown Los Angeles where I delved into the world of complex business litigation and multi-faceted real estate disputes. Eventually, I joined a larger firm doing the same thing, but also added transactional work to my practice. During my career, I have received excellent training and had terrific mentors who were invested in my success, as well as some role models and teachers who may not have realized their impact on me. One thing that really stands out to me about my own path – and that of my most successful colleagues – is that in order to really learn and grow, you must be inspired to stretch yourself, to challenge yourself and to expand your horizons. Each of my mentors advised me to say yes to new opportunities from the earliest stages of my career, and they were right. I started off saying yes to projects to gain experience and a competitive edge over my contemporaries. Some of those projects were exciting while others were less so, but all of them were educational, and all expanded my capabilities and my marketability. Indeed, I use my experience as a litigator to draft deal documents designed to reduce the risk of litigation, offering value added to my clients and shaping my entire practice for years to come.
Saying yes to opportunities also extended into my personal life. Saying yes has led to incredible travel stories. I’ve made countless interesting friends by saying yes to opportunities with my alma mater. So when it came to involvement with Alpha Chi Omega’s local alumnae group, the only answer was yes – and my involvement has paid dividends in the form of new business opportunities, new friendships and the forging of a stronger, deeper connection with my fellow alumni. I’ve also had an opportunity to pay it forward to collegians as a way of thanking the alumnae who helped support my chapter when I was a collegian.
At 18, I didn’t appreciate the lifetime of fun, friends and experiences that awaited me — not just for the next four years, but for a lifetime. I’m thankful that membership in Alpha Chi Omega continues through every stage of our lives. Through the alumnae experience, Alpha Chi has always met me where I was. When I was a young alumna living on the Westside of Los Angeles, Gamma Theta Gamma (South Bay and Westside) offered fun events that I wouldn’t have otherwise had time to plan for myself, interesting meetings featuring speakers on a variety of topics that left me smarter than when I had walked into the room, a trusted group of girlfriends for referrals to doctors and service providers and networking opportunities for career advancement. As I gained more experience and became more settled in my geographic area and career, Alpha Chi offered stress relief and support — in spades! My current alumnae chapter (Alpha Kappa Alpha in Pasadena, California), counts as its members alumnae fresh out of college and those who have received their 75-year pins. At our meetings and events, we paint, learn to cook healthy recipes from a trained chef, we taste test dark chocolates and tea, we host speakers on topics ranging from health and well-being to a New York Times best-selling author, we learn about wine and cheese-making, discuss books and – of course – socialize. Through it all, my life has been enriched, I have learned about a variety of topics, I have made friends with incredible women who I probably would never have otherwise met, and I have an ever-growing list of local activities to try and places to visit, all recommended by my sisters. Best of all, over the years, I have met alums from other chapters whom I am lucky to count as some of my best friends — all because of this shared bond. I’m so thankful for it.
Many people ask how one could possibly juggle being a professional, a parent, and a volunteer all at once. My fellow volunteers are doctors, lawyers, engineers, real estate investors, investment bankers, medical researchers, teachers and executives. Most work full time (or more), and all of us have children and family obligations. We take on what we can at the time. During a recent conversation involving about a dozen of us, we all recognized that we have grown both personally and professionally from the experience. So I urge you: join an alumnae chapter and get involved – whether it’s by attending meetings once a month, volunteering as a hostess for a meeting, coordinating a group outing or serving as an officer. You owe it to yourself to explore the possibilities that await you and to take advantage of the opportunity for growth. Your professional success and your personal fulfillment will be the better for it. And I promise you’ll meet some of the most amazing women you’ve ever met through your participation. See you at an Alpha Chi event very soon!
By: Kim McClure
Gamma Omicron, Marshall University
Outstanding Dedication Award Recipient
When I began my college experience at Marshall University in 1987, it wasn’t on my radar to join a sorority. On a whim, I decided to go through rush with some other girls on the floor of my dorm. We went through together, but they felt a calling to another group as I was feeling a strong pull to Alpha Chi Omega. I remember sitting in the formal living room of the house with the grand piano and it just felt like I belonged there. So, when the time came to make decisions on the final day, I wrote Alpha Chi Omega as my first choice and, luckily, they felt the same way.
However, my four years weren’t traditional. I made some academic mistakes with my priorities out of order. Midway through my sophomore year, the university required me to take a leave of absence (that’s the polite way to say I flunked out). I left for a semester, attended community college, and then went back to Marshall that summer for classes. By the end of the summer, I had earned enough credits to be re-admitted to the university, but I wondered if I would be welcomed back into the chapter. Our chapter advisor, Teresa Moore, took me under her wing. She placed me in a room with sisters I didn’t know that well, but that she knew would be a good influence on me. She developed a plan for me to follow for studying and made sure our scholarship chair checked on me occasionally. That structure and the support I received from my sisters is something I will never forget. One of those roommates I didn’t know very well, Shawna Nelson, became one of my best friends and introduced me to my husband, a clear indication that all of that was in God’s plan for me.
I served as rush advisor after graduation as well as chapter advisor for a few years, then I started a family and passed the torch to others. My family has moved frequently through the years due to my husband’s career and I have stayed busy with other things, but like that strong pull to Alpha Chi Omega in Spring 1988, I started to feel a pull to it again when we moved to Allentown, PA in 2008. Feeling that pull of sisterhood, I began reconnecting with my sisters on Facebook. I had not kept in touch with most of them, but as we started getting together over the next few years, it was evident that those bonds we built in college were still strong. We grew up in the Alpha Chi Omega house away from our families, experiencing life and new responsibilities. Each of us experienced the struggles that all young adults have as they are maturing and figuring out who they are when they are on their own. Those days of helping each other study or using three cans of Aqua Net in one night to get “big hair” or consoling each other as we had our hearts broken by the wrong guy or maybe even telling that wrong guy to leave and not come back in solidarity made us who we are today.
I was asked why I volunteer for Alpha Chi Omega today. The organization has brought wonderful people into my life. I want other women to have the opportunities that I had to feel those strong connections, that sense of knowing that this crew of women had my back then and they have it now. We recently formed a virtual alumnae club for members of Gamma Omicron and we have 81 members living all over the USA, in Hong Kong, and India. I am always amazed, but never surprised, to find that whether that person was an Alpha Chi Omega before me, or if they have joined after me, that they are a person of high quality and conscience. I volunteer for many organizations in the community, and they all support great causes. I choose to continue to volunteer for Alpha Chi Omega because it’s a small way to pay back that unconditional support I was given through a dark time in my young adult life. It’s a gift I will never forget or be able to repay, but I am working on it.
By: Kelly Kilgour
Kappa Nu, Carnegie Mellon University
Young Alumna Award Winner
In the spring of my freshman year at Carnegie Mellon, I joined a local independent sorority called Zeta Psi Sigma through informal recruitment. I came for the free pizza and stayed for the friendship.
At the time I joined the sorority, the chapter had only 150 initiates. For a variety of reasons, in the following semester we chose to begin the process of being “adopted” by a National Panhellenic Conference organization. We reviewed marketing materials from a dozen national organizations, attended four expansion presentations, and ultimately chose Alpha Chi Omega. Our community of 150 women expanded to over 200,000.
Current National Vice President Jennifer Daurora was the chapter advisor for Kappa Nu when I was a collegian, and she set an excellent example of what the alumnae experience could be like. While I’m sure that she could tell many stories of my collegiate days when I was one of those “difficult” collegians, strong-willed and stubborn over details as inconsequential as T-shirt colors, Jen stuck with me and continued to be my model for alumnae life in Alpha Chi Omega. In fact, when I moved to Dallas after graduation, it was Jen who encouraged me to reach out and try volunteering with the local alumnae chapter.
Moving over a thousand miles away from home wasn’t easy, but my experience volunteering for Alpha Chi Omega gave me a way to become involved locally and helped me to feel more at home in a strange city where I initially knew no one. Plus, through my work as a volunteer, I met so many amazing women! When I returned to Pittsburgh a year later, Jen immediately called me with the opportunity to become the alumnae chapter president. After having such a good experience volunteering in Dallas, I couldn’t say no. I was honored that Jen had asked me to step up, and I was excited to be able to connect with other volunteers–sorority sisters I had never met!–in my hometown. At the same time as I was broadening my network locally, I was also beginning to volunteer at a national level as a technology specialist, helping alumnae chapters across the country integrate more technology into their operations. Volunteering nationally allowed me to connect virtually with even more sisters outside of Pittsburgh.
When I look back over the years since graduating from Carnegie Mellon, my memories of time spent with sisters are some that I remember most fondly. When I was struggling to adjust to life in Dallas, I vividly remember how Suzy, the alumnae chapter president, took me out to dinner for my birthday. Another favorite memory was when I got the chance to travel to California and assist a professional filmmaker and Alpha Chi Omega sister who was filming the Southern California Career Day. As a data analyst and software developer, my job is typically very technical and exact, so having the chance to be a part of a creative process was new and exciting.
I anticipate making many more memories like this… starting in just a few weeks! On Sunday, May 7th, I will be running my first half marathon with Myrka, my former VP finance advisee from Carnegie Mellon, to raise money for the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. It’s hard for me to explain just how excited I am. This opportunity combines so many of the things that I value: philanthropy, friendship, striving for physical well-being and setting an example for other Alpha Chi Omega sisters. I started volunteering for Alpha Chi Omega because I had such a great role model in Jen, and because the community gave me strength and camaraderie when I was setting out on my own. I continue to volunteer because I want to give back–and to inspire others to do the same.