By Brittney Sceals
Iota Chi, Middle Tennessee State University
Director of New Business Development at Education Advisory Board and 2012-13 Alpha Chi Omega Traveling Consultant
Looking back on myself five years ago, finding a job after college and having a firm next step in my career seemed like the most important task I would ever be assigned. I tried to create checklist after checklist to analyze my options and establish a formula for making these decisions—I nearly drove myself, my friends and my family insane.
A couple of years later, while reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, I stumbled across what ended up being one of the greatest pieces of career advice I’ve ever received and a solution to my constant career anxiety. Early in the book, Sandberg recalls a conversation she had with previous Google CEO Eric Schmidt, where Schmidt tells her “only one criterion mattered when picking a job—fast growth.” I hate to be hyperbolic in saying that this advice from a complete stranger changed my life, but it is not hyperbole to say that it completely reframed how I have evaluated the steps that followed in my career.
If you find yourself reading this, I hope it is because you are considering applying to be a chapter consultant. But regardless of your career trajectory, I hope this piece of advice is as helpful to you as it was to me: Always take the career option that provides you the greatest opportunity for growth. And I can say with confidence, after serving as a chapter consultant for Alpha Chi Omega, that there are few jobs out there in the entry-level terrain that will provide you with a greater opportunity for professional and personal growth.
While I could write for days about my experience as a chapter consultant and how I grew from it, I’ll leave you with two ways serving in this capacity for Alpha Chi Omega provided me with the greatest opportunity for growth I could have imagined—specifically growth as a professional and growth as an Alpha Chi Omega. I hope that if you are considering the chapter consultant job as your first post-collegiate career move, this will encourage you to dive head first into the opportunity. I think you will be hard-pressed to find a job at this stage in your life that will serve you better in this way.
Growth as a Professional
When my year as a chapter consultant was coming to a close, much like I had done in preparation for college graduation, I started worrying about what came next all over again. But what I didn’t realize was how much more poised for the workforce I was this time around.
From my personal observations, when most past chapter consultants summarize their experience, the most measurable growth they report having seen in themselves is the long list of skills they have gained—skills that proved to set them apart from other candidates when they moved on to search for their next job. My experience was no different. Still to this day, I credit my experience as a chapter consultant with my ability to adjust to sudden changes, solve problems and respond gracefully to challenging situations, and to communicate confidently and eloquently with professionals of all ages—and the list goes on.
One of the most valuable skills I took away from my time as a chapter consultant was my ability to rethink my approach to risks. The consultant job required me to step so far out of my comfort zone—walking into a room to teach a workshop about our Ritual and seeing 300 unfamiliar faces, traveling across the country alone for weeks at a time and completing my first job with great autonomy, walking up to a complete a stranger on a college campus to ask her if I could tell her more about the new sisterhood we were starting from scratch, being the sole person responsible for finding a solution when something inevitably goes wrong between recruitment rounds. While I didn’t really see it in myself at the time, I understand now that there were very few things a new employer could have asked me to do that I wasn’t prepared for coming off of that experience, and I have no problem arguing that few other first jobs would have primed me as a young professional for the workforce in the same degree this job did.
Growth as an Alpha Chi Omega
The hope I have for every single Alpha Chi Omega woman is that she will leave her collegiate experience a better person than when she received her bid card, and that the ideals of the organization will have provided her a roadmap for how to live a more meaningful life. I thought I believed in these ideals of Alpha Chi Omega when I graduated from college, but becoming a chapter consultant vastly widened that perception.
I saw firsthand that the values of our organization reach so much further than the 100 women I called my sisters in college. Alpha Chi was providing a safe space for women to find their voices, realize their potential and become leaders all across the country. I was given the opportunity daily to look at a woman and tell her I believed in her abilities when she wasn’t yet sure she believed in them herself. I experienced the selflessness and love the women in this organization were immediately willing to show to me, even though I was a complete stranger. I was, quite literally, moved to tears on so many occasions by seeing the difference the organization was making in hundreds of young women’s lives.
Through these types of experiences, my belief in the relevance of sorority and my appreciation for a much larger Alpha Chi Omega than I had known before grew exponentially. And because of these experiences, I strive each day to be a better alumna, a better volunteer and a better sister than I would have had the understanding to become had I not seen the experience from this vantage point.
And lastly, this wouldn’t be a Consultant Chronicles post if I didn’t add a warm and fuzzy plug. The ways I grew from my chapter consultant experience are infinite, but what I also want each of you to know is that I truly believe there are very few career opportunities you will find out there that will allow you to wake up each day and feel like you are directly impacting the lives and futures of thousands of women. In this job, not every day will be sunshine and rainbows. Admittedly, some of them will feel impossibly hard. But rest assured that, should this be the journey you choose to take, you will be able to reach out and touch the thing you are shaping and the lives you are changing, you will go on the best adventures and you’ll be amazed at the things you will learn about yourself and about this sisterhood.
Don’t miss the chance to apply for this one-of-a-kind opportunity. The link is live, so apply today!
For this Coffee with Celia post, we are featuring sisters who work in education.
These sisters in education have reflected on the themes “wisdom, devotion, achievement” as well as parts from the symphony and how our values impact the way they relate to their students.
Wisdom may sound like an obvious choice for an educator to reflect upon how our Ritual impacts daily life. When I teach medical students, dental students and graduate students, I am not only imparting wisdom to the students, but much more.
I want them to reflect, to evaluate and to critically think about the matter. In preparation for teaching, I often learn new facts and ideas about the subject at hand.
My style of teaching is an interactive one, whether at the lab bench or in a more formal setting. I frequently invite dialogue, which often leads to a student bringing forth a new perspective or a challenge to old ways of thinking.
Wisdom is not something static, it is constantly shifting and evolving in ever-changing, beautiful ways. We all have wisdom to share and to gain, no matter our age or our occupation.
Carol Lutz, PhD
Epsilon Chi chapter, UNC-Chapel Hill
Associate Professor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences-New Jersey Medical School
Assistant Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
As the Interfraternity Council advisor at the University of Maryland, it might seem strange to think that the Symphony of Alpha Chi Omega inspires me and helps me do my work on a daily basis. I am constantly surrounded by men; clearly I am not a member of any of their organizations, yet membership in my own helps me find patience, understanding and kindness with the students I work with.
To see all that is noble in another, be her badge what it may.
This line of the symphony coupled with our value of wisdom centers me in my work. Each day is a conscious journey into understanding others more completely: who they are, where they come from, how they contribute to their classroom, chapter or campus community.
This line and value remind me to be patient, stay curious and above all – let the student share their life with me in a non-judgmental, purely curious, accepting way. Each student, fraternity man or sorority woman, comes with a unique story and background that informs who they are and how they show up in my office.
The symphony reminds me to hit the “reset button” with each student, to give them the undivided attention and care that they each deserve – no matter how busy the semester gets, how many meetings or events are on the calendar. This, in turn, helps remind them that they also owe this attitude and mindset to their brothers and sisters.
The Symphony helps me create a culture of care for the individual, to see the many different fibers of our massive community, and see the amazing work students individually and collectively contribute to the Greek community at Maryland.
Alpha Omicron, The Ohio State University
IFC Advisor, University of Maryland
Oftentimes, academic goals are expressed purely in terms of achievement – that is, getting the highest grade, attaining a certain class ranking or setting the curve. One of the most important and under-emphasized parts of our Alpha Chi value system is our focus on a trifecta of values – wisdom, devotion AND achievement.
While excelling in the classroom is laudable, I try my best to encourage students to simultaneously develop all three of these values, and not just focus on the achievement part.
For college students, it’s a disservice to only impart facts and route information. Instead, professors and lectures should develop broader understandings, and prompt students to develop wisdom and an intellectual curiosity (as opposed to just knowledge).
It’s the wisdom — through scholarly devotion – that ultimately leads to achievement.
Pi Chapter, UC Berkeley
Doctoral Student & Instructor, Louisiana State University
When I think about my role as a teacher these words from our symphony come to my mind: “to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity.”
As a teacher, I consistently show my love for my students. I work at a school where there are many children from poor and/or broken homes, and I may be the only person that shows them love that day.
There may be times that I am tired or frustrated with my students; however, I have to remain selfless to ensure that their educational needs are met each day.
I also remain sincere with my students, fellow educators and parents regarding my expectations and goals for the students in my classroom.
Theta Sigma Chapter, University of North Florida
Second Grade Teacher
By Taylor Moody
Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University
Resident Consultant, University of Kentucky
When I opened my bid card five years ago, I was ecstatic. I was absolutely in love with Alpha Chi Omega, and I was ready to run home to the ladies I had met during recruitment. While running to the house, a scary thought hit me: What if they don’t like me? Of course I had fallen in love with the women I met, but I was now in a dead sprint to Alpha Chi Omega with a group of 70 new members who had no idea who I was, and I was terrified. When I got to the house, I was welcomed by more than just the women who talked to me during recruitment; I was welcomed by an entire front yard full of Alpha Chis, and I knew I had found my people.
I found my best friends in Alpha Chi Omega, just like they always say you will. Looking back on my college experience I have nothing but gratitude for the friendships I gained because of Alpha Chi. As a consultant, when I meet collegians a popular question I am asked is “What is your favorite memory of Alpha Chi?” When I try to think of one specific memory or event from my experience that I love most, it is that I was always surrounded by my sisters and best friends. I do not have one outstanding memory, but I can say with confidence that I have a group of outstanding sisters who have made every memory from my college experience one for the books. I knew for a fact that my Alpha Chi Omega chapter was full of wonderful members and I was beyond proud to call them my sisters.
When I found out that I was chosen to be a chapter consultant, I had the same ecstatic feeling I had on Bid Day. I actually ran out of the library (abandoning my group project team) to answer the call, and then called every family member I could to spread the good news. I was so happy to get the chance to work with other Alpha Chi alumnae, travel for work and share my passion for this organization with collegians across the nation. Once the initial excitement wore off (months later), I realized I was a little scared to work with other alumnae, and even more scared to be-bop all over the country to Alpha Chi chapters in states I had never even been to before. A familiar thought popped in my head: What if they don’t like me?
Little did I know, the beautiful thing about the bond of Alpha Chi Omega is that it transcends chapters, states and age. Every Alpha Chi chapter has welcomed me with open arms and genuine personalities. I have worked with some of the most motivated young women who are leading our chapters to seek the highest of heights possible, all while maintaining their academics and making lifelong friendships. I have had the privilege of meeting and working with the some of the wonderful women who serve, or have served, on our National Council and Board of Trustees, and I admire the love they have for Alpha Chi Omega and how hard they work to grow our legacy. I get to talk to my fellow consultant sisters daily, and from the outside looking in you would never know we only met a few months ago. Each of the sisters I have met, no matter where they are from, have that familiar genuine personality I fell in love with during recruitment, and I have never once had to work to fit in with these women.
Thank goodness for the beauty of the bond, and the 200,000+ women I call my sisters.
By Ashley Williams
Delta Zeta, Central Michigan University
Region 3 Traveling Consultant
When I was initially applying to be a consultant in fall 2014, I read a Consultant Chronicles blog post that said the best part of the consultant position is having the opportunity to not only inspire, but also to be inspired by daily interaction with Alpha Chi Omega sisters across the country. In that moment, it hit me: that was why I was so passionate about the chapter consultant role. I knew I wanted to inspire my sisters around the country to not only be the very best Alpha Chi Omegas they could be, but also to be the best women, sisters and students they could be. But I was also enthusiastic for personal growth and inspiration, and excited to see where this journey would lead me.
Every once in a while, while reflecting on the journey I have been on over the past year and a half, I think back to those few words I read that pinpointed my passion for this job and this organization: “Inspire and be inspired…” by the people, places and experiences that life on the road offers you. At the time I was applying for my dream job, I couldn’t fathom that this opportunity would allow me to grow in ways that, at the time, I didn’t know were possible, or how inspired I would be by the incredible stories of my sisters.
I am inspired daily by the importance and mission of sorority that I witness at every chapter I visit. By new members running home on bid day, welcomed with open arms, ear-to-ear smiles and even tears. By listening to members’ “whys” for joining Alpha Chi Omega. By chapter leadership overcome with emotion when they find they’ve met a goal they have been working so hard for. Even more, I am inspired by some of the most incredible Alpha Chi Omegas I have ever met: the 17 other consultants and the headquarters staff members I have the pleasure to call coworkers and sisters. These experiences and these women who inspire me on a daily basis fuel my love for Alpha Chi Omega and motivate me to do my very best every day.
But, some days are tough. As visits come and go, it is easy to get caught up in the travel and reports and meetings, and it can be easy to forget about all those moments that perfectly encapsulate the reasons I love this job. I am not big into journaling, and I have never been reliable when it comes to taking pictures, but what I knew I could do was create a running list of those moments in which I never wanted to forget. Instead of collecting things from each visit – tangible items that would easily be lost someday, or that would push me over my baggage weight limit (because, let’s be honest, that’s a real issue here) – I have committed myself to collecting memories, a list of experiences I could easily reference when I needed a little extra inspiration. Not that the T-shirts or water bottles or postcards or bid-day bags I receive from my chapters aren’t special; that’s not the case at all. But this long list of memories I keep reminds of me of each and every moment I have been inspired by the wholehearted, dynamic, intelligent, hilarious, downright incredible sisters I have met along the way.
So my question for you is this: What inspires you to be the very best [insert your name] every single day? Despite the path of life you are currently walking on, whether you’ve graduated from college, you recently began your senior year or you just ran home to Alpha Chi Omega a few short weeks (or days) ago, I challenge you to start keeping a record of those moments you never want to forget. Not only will you have the chance to relive these moments every time you read through your collection of memories, but I promise you that every time you read it, you will be inspired to be the very best Alpha Chi Omega, woman, sister or student you can be, too! How will you start your collection?
By Ellie Edwards
ΖΣ (Missouri State University)
Nationwide Chapter Consultant
Monday, June 27, 2016—the day 18 Alpha Chi Omega sisters from every corner of the country arrived in Indianapolis to begin five weeks of chapter consultant training. Some of us were returning, some of us were fresh out of college and all of us were ready and excited for this journey.
Jump ahead to the next day, June 28, which was our first day in the office and our first time together as a team. We began the day with everyone taking turns sharing a little bit about themselves, and I could hardly contain my excitement knowing that these simple introductions would soon turn into uncontrollable laughter, unforgettable moments and incomparable friendships.
These moments and friendships grew quickly and deeply in the following weeks. We did just about everything together. We drove to and from work together. We learned anything and everything about Alpha Chi Omega together. We went through tough simulations together. We practiced facilitation skills together. We ate a lot of ice cream together. We did post-lunch yoga together. Literally anything fun, new or challenging you could pack into a five-week training course, we did…together.
Fast forward two months to now, and we are already finishing up our first month on the road. We are sharing our knowledge and love for Alpha Chi Omega with sisters across the country; those tough simulations are situations we deal with daily; we facilitate a wide range of workshops; and we encounter a lot of fun, new and challenging experiences, just like we did during training in Indianapolis. Except now, we are not physically together. Some of us have been lucky enough to have a visit with a staff member or another consultant sister, but the majority of our team members are in different states and taking on each workday in a new city by ourselves.
This might sound sad at first, and believe me, I can’t wait for when we are all together again in December. But the cool thing about our team is that even though we are scattered across the country, we are all experiencing similar situations, and we understand what each other is going through. We may not live down the road from one another anymore, but when you have a team of 18 sisters who can instantly relate to you, will talk you through a challenge over the phone and will celebrate even your smallest wins (by emailing you pictures of puppies, of course), the number of states and connecting flights between us is almost insignificant.
A past consultant recently told me that this is what makes the friendships between consultants so special and so strong—the fact that they are based in being apart. We grow so close during training, and then we are apart more than we are together for the remainder of the year. However, we are able to create the feeling of being together without physically being side by side.
So, my friends, here’s to a year of learning experiences, challenges, delayed flights, GroupMe messages, a lot of ice cream and endless joy. Let’s do this…together.
Follow along on our Thursday blog posts to hear more about what our consultant team experiences together this year. If being a consultant sounds excited to you, visit our “Becoming a Consultant” page to learn more about the job. Check back in later this month for our application link to go live!
By: Alexa Gates
Gamma Mu, Ball State University
Resident – Western Oregon University
This is a bittersweet but exciting time of year for many Alpha Chi Omega sisters. Graduations, Halls of Commitment, new beginnings and some endings tend to take place as the weather turns warmer and we approach the summer months. Two years and two coasts after I accepted this position, my time as an Alpha Chi Omega chapter consultant has come to an end.
It is absolutely startling how fast the time has gone, and I am learning that life doesn’t slow down from here on out. The goal I had since I was 19, to be a consultant, has reached its crescendo at 24. As I reflect back on how much I have accomplished, how my life has been enriched and how much I have developed, I cannot help but credit Alpha Chi Omega. So here, in my last Consultant Chronicle, as the last consultant standing, I give you an abbreviated list of that which I credit Alpha Chi Omega:
1. The ability to enjoy my own company. From long weeks on the road to my year as the only consultant on my project in a small Oregon town, I have learned the skill and value in hanging out with myself. I have mastered the solo movie, solo dinner and solo hike. It also has shown me how valuable the time we have with others is. It has pushed me to be more present in the company of sisters, family and friends and to give them my full attention and appreciation, because I can always hang out with myself. I’m great company and I never have to compromise on what I want to eat for dinner.
2. The celebration of small wins (with myself and with others!). I used to have a hard time appreciating what I had accomplished. Alpha Chi has helped me see that some days your win is completing a huge project or resolving a conflict, and some days it’s folding your laundry. Whatever it is, it is healthy to give yourself a pat on the back for the big and small, to share with sisters why you are proud of YOU that day or to take yourself on a date to Nordstrom.
3. Changing a flat tire. Alpha Chi Omega has empowered me to deal with really hard, even daunting, situations calmly; to take a breath and smile at the good story you will have to tell later. It has also pushed me to ask for help, not because I am not smart or good enough, but rather because I am smart enough to know when I need help. Like when I flagged down a kind stranger who coached me through changing my flat tire on my way home from the airport one rainy afternoon (If you are reading this, Ken, shout-out to you).
4. Hustle. Not only working hard, but also finding the joy in the grind. Nothing makes me happier than a very productive day, and Alpha Chi Omega has shown me how much joy there is to be had in a job well done.
5. A sense of community. We all want to feel involved in something, that we matter to a group, that we are invested in something bigger than just ourselves. Alpha Chi Omega has not only helped me feel connected, but has also shown me how I can continue that connection and foster it in others. However I choose to stay connected with the Alpha Chi Omega community, whether it be through volunteering, advising, donating to the Foundation or attending our upcoming convention, I know I am making a difference in our sisterhood, and in the lives of our members.
I cannot wait to take what I have learned into my new career and new community. Having these skills as a result of my role with this amazing organization has empowered me to never stop pushing to be better, never stop learning and never stop seeking the heights. I couldn’t have asked for a better first job out of college, and I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing sisterhood.
By Molly Schuneman
Sigma, University of Iowa
Nationwide Traveling Consultant
At the close of my second year serving as a chapter consultant, I have become nostalgic and often find myself daydreaming about the amount of fun I have had, the important lessons I have learned and the amazing people I have met along the way.
One of my favorite recruitment memories from the past year took place while I was at the Gamma Theta chapter at University of Maryland. During their preference ceremony, each sister who was hosting a potential new member went around the room and recited an “A sister is someone who…” statement that described a quality about the potential new member that they believed would make them a great Alpha Chi Omega. Many statements reflected the potential new member’s sense of humor, leadership ability and bright, positive personality. Every time they performed this during the preference ceremony, I couldn’t help but think of my consultant sisters.
The 2015-16 consultant class has been described as exceptional, inspiring, empowering and very caring, and I am proud to have been on this journey with them this year. This group of women boasted past chapter presidents, Panhellenic presidents, orientation leaders and campus tour guides, future doctors, student affairs professionals, teachers and business professionals. Each and every one of my consultant sisters embodied servant leadership and the values of Alpha Chi Omega in their work with our chapters this year.
Reflecting on the unique people in our consultant class, if I had to make “A sister is someone who…” statements about my consultant sisters, they would be as follows:
A consultant is someone who jumps at the chance to help anyone at any time.
A consultant is someone who makes anyone feel comfortable with her kindness and relatable personality.
A consultant is someone who always puts forth 100 percent during any task.
A consultant is someone who shows compassion and empathy.
A consultant is someone who is unapologetically herself.
A consultant is someone who has the gift of humor and knows how to make what may seem a “dire” situation lighter.
A consultant is someone who inspires other sisters to seek the heights
A consultant is someone who uses her other gifts and talents to supplement her consultant work.
A consultant is someone who is resilient.
A consultant is someone who radiates passion and joy in her life.
A consultant is someone who is meticulously organized and punctual.
A consultant is someone who takes smart, calculated risks.
A consultant is someone who has gumption.
A consultant is someone who epitomizes what it means to be an Alpha Chi Omega.
These women I was blessed to work with are the definition of support and strength when you need it; excitement when you have good news to share; a listening ear when you need to chat; a helping hand when you are in a bind; good advice and answers when asked for them; unforgettable jokes when you take life too seriously; encouragement when you hit a wall; a big warm hug when we reunite; and a loving sister to forever keep in your heart.
I know our chapters have grown and are better off because these women poured their hearts and souls into their work this year. My dream is that future consultants continue that legacy of excellence and love. I will never forget the friendship they shared with me, and I definitely know that we will be reconnecting every year for many years to come!
By: Courtney Igbo-Ogbonna
Delta Tau, Minnesota State University – Mankato
Resident Consultant, University of Connecticut
Within 10 minutes of meeting me, you will probably know these three things: I’m obsessed with the show Scandal, my ultimate goal in life is to be Oprah and I love Alpha Chi Omega (duh!). Some people may think these things are just random facts about me, but the things I choose to prioritize in my life all need to have certain qualities: enhance my life in some way, empower me to do better and, most importantly, channel my inner fierce and fabulous.
Let me explain what this actually means.
When I say fierce and fabulous, this is what I’m saying: to be fierce is to be intense, aggressive and powerful. Fabulous is to simply be extraordinary, amazingly good or wonderful. When you put those two traits together, you are now an unstoppable individual.
Now, going back to facts about me, I like Scandal because of Olivia Pope and how she demands the attention of the room whenever she is present. She is intelligent beyond belief, poised and elegant.
I aspire to be [like] Oprah because she is, in my opinion, a queen. She has successfully built her empire with her own two hands and, throughout all that, never let her success get the best of her. She remains humble, caring, philanthropic and independent; all qualities I admire.
Last but not least, my love for Alpha Chi Omega, an organization that builds up real, strong women. This sisterhood teaches humility and respect, and empowers young women with the tools to be independent leaders who can thrive in a world mostly dominated by men.
In short, Alpha Chi Omega teaches thousands of women across this nation how to be fierce and fabulous.
Here are three suggestions for how Alpha Chi Omega can really help you develop these qualities and become the best version of yourself:
- Leave your legacy. In all that I do, I have a goal in mind to leave whatever it is I am doing with a precedent for achievement. This can be big or small, but I try to be someone people look up to and strive to emulate. This could be anything from being a big to being someone who always volunteers to table for your next philanthropy event, or coming back as an alumna to watch initiation or assist with recruitment efforts. Set a positive example because it will rarely go unnoticed.
- Be diligent. If you want something, work for it. Never expect anything to be handed your way. If you want an A on your test, study. Running to be the next chapter president? Set goals higher than the standards, be kind to your sisters and really know the dynamic of your chapter. Want the internship or job you’re applying for? Do research on the company, prepare for the interview and dress for success. Sometimes you’re going to have to really put in the effort to get to where you want to be. Hopefully, you will have a pinch of luck to help you out every now and then, though!
- Use failures as fuel. There have been times where I have come up short when reaching for my goals. But that was never a good enough reason to keep me down. Think of Oprah and where she started. She comes from a low–income background and has a complicated family history, but she never let her past define her future. Olivia Pope has had her fair share of failures, as well, from her dad single-handedly running her life, to having her own secrets be put out in the open. However, she always uses those realities to create a better solution in the end and always ends up victorious.
Is it a coincidence that back in 2012, I said yes to our sisterhood that totally embodies the two qualities I seek out in everything I do? Maybe. But nonetheless, I am so thankful that we crossed paths and I have been given the opportunity to further the love and success for our sisterhood all across the country. I truly do believe that this mindset can give you everything you want. In my short 23 years, I have accomplished just about everything on my list of to-dos while keeping myself focused. Find people or things to influence your life in a positive way, people to look up to, and set your goals at heights you may think are unobtainable. Do these things, and you’ll find your own fierce and fabulous in no time.
By Lauren Castillo
Alpha Psi, University of California – Los Angeles
I adopted the phrase, “collect moments, not things” as my mantra to seek out once-in-a-lifetime adventures and opportunities. It became a guiding light when making decisions about things like what to do with my life or whether or not I really need another pair of sandals. Life on the road at a different campus, in a different state, where I have to adjust to a different time zone and climate every week has proved to me that moments and experiences are invaluable. That guiding phrase has not only proven to be truer than ever, but its meaning has also evolved. For me, “collect moments” has become the most important part of that quote. As a road warrior, I’ve learned that collecting the little moments in my everyday life is what ultimately ties together this entire journey because it’s the little moments that have made my experience on the road truly beautiful.
The little moments are what have kept me smiling each day whether I’m alone on an airplane or surrounded by a group of sisters, uncontrollably laughing after a fourteen-hour recruitment day. It’s being able to enjoy my morning coffee at the beach in California and experiencing life after a New York blizzard that very same night. It’s the pure excitement I’ve felt in the moment when a chapter welcomes home eighty new members into their sisterhood. It’s the warm fuzzy feeling in a hug from a collegian I’ve only worked with for a week, but feel like I’ve known for a lifetime. These are the moments in which I have found happiness.
Sometimes it has been the bittersweet moments that I’ve appreciated too, like when a visit has come to an end. It’s creating a special memory when my consultant sister and I can only laugh after enduring a three-hour cab line, as our toes turned numb. It’s also that sad, aching feeling when saying goodbye and realizing these could be some of the last moments I spend with sisters I’ve grown so close to in such a short period of time.
Being a chapter consultant has given me countless treasures in the form of moments with people I would have never met otherwise. I’m taken by surprise when I realize that the only reason my path has crossed with strangers, who have turned into some of my most genuine friends, is because I have the privilege of working for Alpha Chi Omega. It’s the daily encouragement from friends who live hundreds of miles away that has taught me to appreciate every little kindness.
The little moments strung together; the collection of people, places, relationships and emotions make up an experience of a lifetime. The moments I have collected as a chapter consultant are invaluable and are something I try to reflect on every day. I could go on naming these small moments as proof of my precious experience, but instead I’ll say it again, “collect moments, not things.” Because it is being able to appreciate every moment – little or big, happy or sad – that will make your life full and any common moment beautiful.
By: Claire Emmack
Gamma Mu, Ball State University
About two years ago, I was driving back from Florida to Indiana with four of my Alpha Chi Omega sisters after one of my favorite spring break trips. Even though we were sad to leave sunny Florida, we were having fun reminiscing on the great times we had during the week and belting out the latest Top 40 hits. We were almost back to school when the car swerved off the road and took several rolls into a ditch. It was one of the scariest moments of my life, but I decided in the moments following the initial shock that this accident was not going to break me or bring me down. Instead, I would use it as a wake-up call and a chance to acknowledge something that I now live by, gratitude. While we all walked away from that accident with our various injuries, we all walked away, and I am forever grateful for that. From that day on, I decided that life is too short not to be thankful for every single moment that you are given.
Four months after the accident, I attended Alpha Chi Omega’s 58th National Convention and couldn’t help but pinch myself constantly because I was experiencing one of the best weekends of my life. It was the first time I was flying by myself, my first time being all-the-way across the country in California and the first time I really saw “big” Alpha Chi Omega. The word grateful kept coming to my mind throughout that weekend, which made me reflect on how many great opportunities and great experiences had come my way. I left convention thinking back to the day of the accident and how I wanted to live a life with a grateful heart. So I decided to take action. Since most of my life is documented on social media, I thought why not document my daily gratitude on social media as well? I took to Twitter every day and tweeted the best part of each of my days. I remember that my friends would get excited when they had something to do with my #bestpartofday and I remember lying in bed every night, reflecting on the day and sending out a tweet with my favorite memory. It was fun to look back at my tweets and see what had been the highlights of my days, weeks and months.
Fast-forward to present time and I still reflect on my day, but instead of tweeting it out to the public I write it down in my planner every night. I found that keeping my #bestpartofday to myself made it a little more meaningful, at least for me. I also am so much more of a pen-to-paper gal than a technology guru so writing it down just seemed more natural. I purchased a new planner this past summer in preparation for my job as a chapter consultant, and I found the perfect one. The planner I found had the normal space for day-to-day activities and to-do’s, but then at the bottom it also had a box titled, “Gratitude.” How appropriate, right? What a perfect place to put my #bestpartofday! So every day that I have been on the road, I have documented the best part of my day. Not every day has had an incredible “best part,” but then there are some days when it is hard to pick just one because so much greatness occurred in that 24 hours. Sometimes that box at the bottom of the page describes a really good donut I had and sometimes it describes welcoming home new members on a chapter’s bid day. Since every day doesn’t have this big moment, having the ability to capture and reflect on the little moments in life makes gratitude so easy. This goes perfectly with my favorite line of our symphony, “to see beauty even in the common things of life.”
As I said earlier, I no longer share these moments on a public social media platform, but I would like to share a handful of my #bestpartofday moments from my time as a consultant here. Like any true Ball State alumni, I will channel my inner David Letterman and give you a list of ten, in order by date:
- September 1, 2015 – “Someone thought Billhighway was a person named Bill, LOL!”
- September 12, 2015 – “Welcoming home the founding members of Florida Gulf Coast University!”
- September 15, 2015 – “Sitting on the Central Michigan house porch and people watching.”
- October 28, 2015 – “Sam Hunt concert downtown Nashville with a Vanderbilt sister.”
- November 19, 2015 – “Enthusiasm from the VP new member education in our meeting!”
- December 11, 2015 – “Pizza and personality tests with the consultant team at the Staybridge hotel.”
- January 25, 2016 – “Bachelor viewing party and crafting with sisters at Marquette.”
- February 2, 2016 – “Cook Out milkshakes and enjoying the sunny and 75° weather on the University of Tennessee Alpha Chi Omega porch.”
- March 10, 2016 – “Trying sushi for the first time in Iowa City with sisters.”
- March 19, 2016 – “Climbing to the top of the Hollywood sign with consultant sisters, Haleigh and Elizabeth.”
So what is your #bestpartofday? Even the worst of days have something special hidden in them and it is your job to figure it out. Living a life of gratitude makes for a rewarding life and one that is full of little moments that contribute to those grand moments. I challenge you to find the beauty in the common things today and every day. Don’t wait until a traumatic event like a car accident happens for you to start realizing that life is for living. Go live life to its absolute fullest, and go live it right now! Are you reading this halfway through the day and worried that you aren’t going to have a #bestpartofday? Go make one! Then write it down or tweet it out or simply just think about it before you go to bed. Seek the heights and seek gratitude because it is what keeps me so positive and happy, and I think it could do the same for you!