Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega
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Overcoming Obstacles by Serving Others

Katrina_ShakleeBy Katrina Shaklee, Ψ (University of Oklahoma)
2015 Real. Strong. Women. of Distinction Recipient

When I was pursuing my degree at the University of Oklahoma, I considered myself many things—an Alpha Chi Omega, a friend, a daughter, etc. When I turned 24, I had the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) attached to who I was as well. It became a part of me whether or not I wanted it. When I received the diagnosis I had two choices: embrace it and move forward, or be frustrated and afraid. I’m not going to lie—I did have many frustrations and there were times when I was certainly scared, but long-term, I knew I had to move forward and make the most of my new life journey.

I decided to take my passion for sports and combine it with my new diagnosis. Perhaps that may seem like an unlikely merge, but I, along with help from various other people, created a nonprofit to provide sporting opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. In 2000, we staged the first Endeavor Games for Athletes with Physical Disabilities, and that event has flourished every year since.

Many people seem to be intrigued by my having multiple sclerosis and managing it by blending my love of sports and creating this event. I’ve never been hesitant to share my journey of being diagnosed, but I do struggle when people look at me as having overcome obstacles, or doing something different and amazing.

Why, you might ask? Quite simply, when I watch our athletes competing, they are the ones I see as truly overcoming obstacles. Yes, I have a disease that isn’t going away any time soon. And with MS, the disease is very unpredictable, can change how it affects you and can get worse with time. Right now, I am managing extremely well. So, when I am at our track meet to watch a race and I see a 4-year-old smiling ear to ear while racing his wheelchair, or when I see a 30-year-old with only one limb competing in swimming, I don’t reflect on my obstacles, but instead get to witness some amazing athletes, doing some amazing things. The athletes we serve every year don’t want to be heroes, nor do they want to be your inspiration. They just want to be seen as competitive athlete, and we try our best to give them that opportunity.

I never planned on doing this with my life, serving others through a nonprofit and now through my employment with the University of Central Oklahoma. But it has become a part of who I am. As Steve Jobs once stated, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” This is what the Endeavor Games does for me. I encourage you to find something that will pull you as well.

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Celebrating MacDowell Month & Our Sisters in the Arts, Part Two

By Liz Ragland, Gamma Tau

The second post profiling sisters in the arts features Irish step dancer, Kelsey O’Connor and music teacher, Katie Wonderly.
-Liz


Katie_WonderlySpotlight Member:
Katie Wonderly, Gamma Tau

How are you involved in the arts?
I recently graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. I now work as an elementary music teacher in Oklahoma City Public Schools and the El Sistema Oklahoma orchestra program.

How did you first get interested in your art form?
I have spent my whole life loving music! My parents took me to Kindermusik classes as a toddler, and I had several incredible elementary music teachers that were huge influences in my life. I loved getting to sing and play instruments, but even more so, I was always eager to help my music teachers during class! One of my favorite childhood keepsakes is my All About Me page from when I was 6. When asked what I thought I was good at, I answered: “Singing and helping little kids!” (Who did I even consider little kids? Two-year-olds?)  I think I’ve always known that I wanted to pursue music education, and I was lucky enough to have teachers that encouraged me every step of the way.

How do you “Strike on the lyre of the universe, only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace”?
This quote is by far my favorite part of our Symphony, and one that I’m not sure I truly appreciated until I began teaching. As an elementary music teacher, I have the unique opportunity of getting to see the same children in my class year-after-year. Throughout their time in my class, these students will learn about many things: counting rhythms, playing recorders, musical vocabulary, orchestra families…the list goes on. The most important aspect of my teaching, however, is not creating perfect musicians. My primary goal throughout each year is teaching students how to be happy, joyful, peaceful human beings, and for me, that just happens to be through music! When I look back at all of my favorite educators, I don’t remember individual lessons or the exact words that were said. I remember the overall effect they had on my life and my eventual choice to follow the same career path. I know that not all of my students will wish to be a teacher or have a career in music. Instead, I simply hope to impart to them the happiness, joy, and peace that making music together can bring. I get the opportunity to strike notes of happiness, joy, and peace every day, and I can only hope that my students are learning to do the same.

What’s your favorite Alpha Chi moment/memory?
My favorite moment by FAR was the Bid Day when my biological little sister joined Alpha Chi Omega! I had been eyeing her during all of the parties and had talked with her some throughout the recruitment process, but I knew she didn’t have her heart set on a certain house and was trying to keep an open mind through it all. The morning of Bid Day, basically the entire house tried to trick me into thinking she wasn’t on our Bid List, and that she had chosen another house. I didn’t want to believe them, but there was definitely still a bit of doubt in my mind. The moment I saw her running across the quad wearing her first AXO shirt was one of the happiest moments of my life! I ran out to meet her halfway, tears streaming down my face, and gave her the biggest hug ever! My little sister was finally HOME, and I’ve loved getting to spend the last two and a half years watching her thrive in this sisterhood and love it as much as I have!

Kelsey_OConnorSpotlight Member: Kelsey O’Connor, Beta Rho
How are you involved in the arts?
I am involved with the arts with dancing. It is something that means a lot to me and I get to share that passion and interest with other people who are some of my closest friends.

How did you first get interested in your art form?
When I was four years old, my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to take an Irish dance class to learn about my family history and their culture (as I am third generation Irish-American on my father’s side). Ever since then my life has revolved around dance and I would have it no other way.

How do you “Strike on the lyre of the universe, only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace”?
In relation to dance, I strike the lyre of the universe when I dance. Dancing has the extraordinary ability to make me happy and fill me with joy every time I dance. Even if I go into a class after a bad day, I always leave in a happier mood. Dancing never stops making me feel beautiful and confident. It brings me happiness and that is also why I love it so much.

What’s your favorite Alpha Chi moment/memory: Even though I have been a member of Alpha Chi for just a few weeks, my favorite memory has to be bid night. Opening my bid to find it was Alpha Chi and then running across the gym to meet the other girls was an incredible feeling. In general it was a special and unforgettable night because my mom, my recruitment counselor, and some of my friends I met during my first semester became my sisters and it was the best feeling in the world.

 

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Celebrating MacDowell Month & Our Sisters in the Arts

By Liz Ragland,Gamma Tau

MacDowell Month is my favorite time of year! The performance art has a special place in my heart: I grew up dancing, singing, and performing in school plays from age 3 to age 18. Although I am no longer as involved in the arts (does Zumba count?) I still love going to art museums, the opera, or seeing a new play.

I wanted to get to know some of our sisters who are involved in dance, theatre, art, and music so, to celebrate MacDowell Month on the blog this year, I’ll be profiling sisters in the arts. This first post features dancer/singer/actress Sarah Fagan and graphic designer/hand-letterer Gillian Tracey.

-Liz

Spotlight Member: Sarah Fagan, Gamma TauSarah_Fagan

How are you involved in the arts?
I am a professional dancer, singer, and actress in musical theatre. (Sarah is currently in the national tour of 42nd Street!)

How did you first get interested in your art form?
I took dance lessons from a very young age. I have always loved movie musicals and was lucky to see live theatre many times while I was growing up. As a dance major in college I saw even more shows and learned about dance in theatre, and realized I had a passion for musical theatre. I am lucky that I’m able to successfully apply my dance background to the musical theatre business, and that I enjoy singing and acting equally as much as dancing!

How do you “Strike on the lyre of the universe, only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace”?
I try to be focused, kind, calm, and supportive so I can spread positivity through any cast of performers I am a part of. When a cast is happy, unified, and having fun backstage it shows onstage. In turn when we give an inspired performance we have the chance to change someone for the better. At every performance, it’s exciting to think that I could turn someone’s bad day into a great day, or inspire someone to find and follow their passion.

What’s your favorite Alpha Chi moment/memory?
Definitely senior year Bid Day. I was VP recruitment two years in a row, and the feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction, and relief that washed over me when the new members ran to us that day really sums up my experience in Alpha Chi. There are so many moments I can think back to where my overwhelming feeling was “I have no idea how, but we did it, and did it well!” The exhilarating feeling of triumph runs through a majority of my most memorable Alpha Chi experiences, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. We often worked together to pull off big events that required huge amounts of time, energy, and willpower. The proud feeling I had when I got to watch or participate in the successful results of our hard work was my favorite part of Greek life.

 

Gillian_TraceySpotlight Member: Gillian Tracey, Delta Chi

How are you involved in the arts?
I’m a freelance graphic designer and hand-letterer.

How did you first get interested in your art form?
I’ve always loved art since I was a little kid, but when I started college I wanted to take my passion for creating and learn how to apply it in a practical way, which is how I came to study graphic design! After working for a few years at a magazine, I decided to take the leap into freelancing full-time where I could work one-on-one with small business owners.

How do you “Strike on the lyre of the universe, only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace”?
This line of the symphony acts like a thermostat for my business. Just as a thermostat maintains a particular temperature, this portion of the symphony helps me maintain the right mindset and approach situations in the best way possible.

While running a business is extremely gratifying and exciting, there’s a lot of unknown factors, major competition, and crippling comparison that can happen every single day. The symphony is an anthem for treating others with respect, encouraging and uplifting fellow creatives, and for reminding me that the hard work is worth the joy found in creating what I’m passionate about.

What’s your favorite Alpha Chi moment/memory?
There are so many incredible memories it’s hard to choose just one! While I was a collegiate member of Delta Chi, we all lived in the same house the whole time we were in school. Living across the hall from your best friends for years made for a lot of memories of piling on the sofa to watch rom-coms in pajamas, writing papers together, and getting ready for formals. It’s the simple everyday moments that make up my favorite and fondest memories.

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Galentine’s Day

web_Elizabeth_MartinBy: Elizabeth Martin
Gamma Nu, San Diego State University
Resident Consultant, Loyola Marymount University

If you have ever seen Parks and Recreation, then you know all about Galentine’s Day. If you haven’t, Galentine’s Day is a day where women get together and celebrate how amazing and special their friendships are. It truly is a day for “ladies celebrating ladies.” Plus, there is always an abundance of breakfast food!

As a chapter consultant, I honestly feel as though every day is Galentine’s Day. I have the opportunity to work with truly unbelievable collegian women, alumnae and headquarters staff members. Day-in and day-out, these women remind me why I chose to become an Alpha Chi Omega. They allow me to love my job and this sisterhood more and more every day.

As an Alpha Chi Omega, every day I am in awe over the amazing sisters we have all over the nation. We have sisters who can make a quick call turn into hours of chatting. Our sisters are the first to tell us that we can accomplish anything. Each and every day, they show us what real, strong women look like and I am beyond thankful for each of them.

We have sisters who are dedicated leaders and selfless women. Whether it is a chapter sister or a sister across the country, our members everywhere live our Ritual and push one another to seek the heights. Working with our members truly has made me a better person, sister and Alpha Chi.

Our Alpha Chi sisters are our rocks, our people and our role models. They allow us to be the driven, goofy, strong women we all are. As a chapter consultant, I constantly meet members who truly impress me with their spark, work ethic and dedication to Alpha Chi Omega. Everywhere I go, I meet members who make me proud to call them my sisters.

So this Galentine’s Day, I encourage you to whip up some waffles, grab some sisters and celebrate this incredible bond we all share.AXOnightout_logo_sanslyre

Today, February 11, also happens to be Alpha Chi Omega’s first #AXONightOut! As part of Alpha Chi Omega’s Healthy Relationship Week, celebrate our sisterhood and connect with a sister in person, by phone or on Skype and tell the world about it using the hashtag. Then send your photos to editor@alphachiomega.org to add to our official photo album!

Happy Galentine’s Day and #AXONightOut!

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The Perfect Birthday Present

web_Ellie_PiersallBy: Ellie Piersall
Theta Sigma, University of North Florida
Region 2 Traveling Consultant

On the morning of January 10th, I received not one but multiple text messages from friends with the simple “grandma emoji.”  Apparently turning 24 is symbolic of old age now. Although I don’t believe I’m old by any means, the grandma emoji certainly triggered me to reflect on the past few years. I began thinking of who I am, who I have grown to be, the many things I have accomplished and the many more I hope to accomplish. I spent even more time thinking about my current life, my job and how I would be spending my birthday. This year, I spent my 24th birthday enduring a 10-hour travel day filled with delayed flights, layovers and the wonders of airport food. I did, however, find the time to treat myself to my favorite candy, Sour Patch Kids. Most would say how sad it was for my birthday to be spent traveling and not celebrating. However, very few people knew from where I was coming, where I was heading and what I would be doing in the days following my birthday. I had, in my mind, the perfect birthday present.

The morning of my birthday, I woke up around 6 a.m. and began my 10-hour travel day. I was leaving one school, where I was assisting with formal recruitment, to do the same task at another. I oftentimes have difficulty articulating the multiple aspects of my job as a chapter consultant. The feeling I get when leaving a chapter to begin my journey at a new one is just one indescribable part of my profession. I’m devastated to be leaving one school, where I felt well-acclimated and had bonded with the members, yet simultaneously excited and nervous to meet an entirely new chapter. I temporarily go into a routine two-to-three-day funk of feeling sad, out of place and unimpressionable. Right around the time my funk fades and I start falling in love with the chapter I am visiting, it is typically time to say goodbye and move to the next chapter and campus. Cue the cyclical, but brief emotional rollercoaster.

So, back to my perfect belated birthday present. As I mentioned before, I was sad to leave my previous school, excited to meet my new chapter and nervous to feel welcomed. There is something absolutely beautiful about recruitment time in all chapters. Despite the long hours, strained voices and blistered feet, it is by far one of the most exciting times to be working with a chapter. It is one of the few times every year where the each chapter expands their sisterhood with the addition of new members. Working a recruitment week never fails to give me chills, and I was fortunate to not only work with a recruiting chapter during my birthday week but all throughout my birthday month.

This birthday month of mine has unquestionably been my best month on the road thus far. I have had the amazing opportunity to work with three different chapters across the nation and help with their formal recruitment process. These women, my sisters, quickly washed away all my nervousness and my doubts about working with new chapters. These chapters welcomed me with open arms, and we bonded during late night junk-food-eating sessions and many sleep-deprived bursts of laughter. Alpha Chi Omega and this sisterhood has given me unimaginable opportunities, surrounded me with the most passionate and influential women I know and molded me into the best version of myself as a young woman. I am forever grateful for the women Alpha Chi Omega brings into its sisterhood and the development it provides for its members. I owe a large part of who I am to the sisterhood of Alpha Chi Omega, which is why I am beyond blessed to have spent my birthday month helping to expand our sisterhood. I have had the incredible opportunity to help recruit new members who are just as fabulous as the Alpha Chi Omegas I already know and continue to meet. Having the privilege to expand three chapter sisterhoods in the course of one month has undeniably been the perfect birthday present.

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Starting on Cloud Eight…

web_Catherine_GeanonBy: Catherine Geanon
Alpha Chi, Bulter University
Region One, Traveling Consultant

Imagine this: it is October training back at headquarters for the chapter consultants who travel to established chapters across the country. We have been on the road for 12 weeks, visiting a new chapter every week. After 6-10 weeks of recruitment visits and 2-6 weeks of chapter management visits, we are suddenly reunited with the only people in the world who understand our lifestyle. It is an emotional reunion, one filled with laughter and tears. We reminisce for hours immediately following our reunion, as we share a multitude of stories – weird, funny, sad, infuriating and inspiring.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, part of the storytelling would include a workshop facilitated by our supervisor during which she asked, “When you describe your position to others, how do you describe it? What do you tell family and friends who ask you why you decided to become a chapter consultant?” Long story short, many of us responded in a similar fashion, “It’s more than a dream job. It’s an opportunity to work with real, strong women across the country and to give back to an organization that gave us so much in college. To empower women across the country and help them to become the best version of themselves is a profoundly personal journey, too. Each day we conquer our own fears and challenge ourselves to become the women who we always wanted to be.”

Fast forward to December training. All of the consultants are reunited for the first time – both traveling and resident consultants this time – since we either hit the road or moved to our respective resident locations last. As we sit together in a professional development workshop led by our supervisors, we are asked to find a job description for our dream jobs. As we do this, I realize that the hard and soft skills that we learn and refine as consultants are completely transferable to all of our future careers, whatever they might be. More significantly, though, each of us has gained considerable insight into defining and identifying the potential career paths and opportunities that are unique to our self-fulfillment.

During this workshop, I realized that I could live a life full of wonder, inspiration, passion, service, meaningful relationships, and yes, my fair share of adversity (which hopefully results in resilience and growth). I am a chapter consultant and an aspiring physician’s assistant, and each day I am amazed at how much this position has taught me about finding what I call “my employment feng shui.” I was carefully, and intentionally, placed by Alpha Chi Omega as a travelling consultant for region one. In the future when I look for the right physician’s assistant position, I will similarly seek out my personal employment feng shui – a combination of all of the right workplace factors (i.e. the physician, support staff, patient population and amount of potential positional satisfaction). I appreciate daily the effort and thought that was put into placing me in my current position. I hope to apply a similar level of skill and expertise when I am searching for my best fit as a physician’s assistant.

Looking back on my time thus far as a chapter consultant, I have created a list of the practical and sometimes profoundly personal steps that will help me to once again find the best position for me:

  1. Start with “why”: By learning to start conversations with the “why” as opposed to the “what” or “how,” it is possible to understand the true meaning behind actions and behaviors. Why do I want to be a physician’s assistant? Why do I want one position instead of another? In order for me to start with why, I must ask myself what motivates me? How have I found fulfillment and inspiration in other positions that I’ve had?
  2. Find a mentor: Although this may seem self-evident, it can be a challenge to find the balance of traits needed in a mentor – someone who is knowledgeable, honest and supportive. I must do the proper research: who do I know that is a physician’s assistant? Does s/he possess the qualities and expertise that I seek in a mentor? Can this person both challenge and support me?
  3. Know your love language: At first glance, it may seem odd to use this terminology to reference a career since the original intent behind knowing one’s love language was for amorous purposes. But, let me explain what I mean. During consultant training this past summer, we each determined our love language. I learned that my love language is words of affirmation. Can I find a career and a position in which I can receive words of affirmation as my form of praise? Absolutely! In my current position, my motivation is driven by members and chapters that reveal the impact I have made; if I can guide one officer’s leadership development and a woman tells me that I have done so, then I feel that my efforts were worthwhile and meaningful. In the future, I see these words of affirmation coming from patients who I treat, colleagues with whom I work, and the physician(s) who oversee my work.  I am hopeful that I can find a practice opportunity where my co-workers and I can understand each person’s love language enough to create a supportive and productive work environment.
  4. Focus upon realistic optimism: When searching for the right position, it is important for me to remember to remain realistic and optimistic; rather than focusing upon the positions I don’t want, I need to find the ones I do want. It is so much easier to describe what I don’t want in a position than it is to determine what exactly I do want. Realistic optimism can be achieved in various ways. I have found the journey of a chapter consultant to be both incredibly challenging and rewarding; and thus, I must be able to identify my strengths and weaknesses, and find ways to overcome the latter. I must also be adaptable and appreciate adversity because I cannot be prepared for every situation, person or behavior I will encounter. Paralleling the unknown that is encountered, I must also remember to set realistic goals. For me, a career that is easy is not necessarily fulfilling. I must ask myself, “Are my goals and my ideal position realistic for me to accomplish/attain? Is it realistic for me to work certain hours? Does a position offer the benefits I am seeking?”
  5. Find an opportunity…not a job: I absolutely love that being a chapter consultant is more than a job. It’s an opportunity. Yes, I do get paid to travel to chapters across the nation, meet women I am able to inspire and who inspire me and I have the potential to create change in a chapter and influence lives. But these incredible benefits result from an opportunity, not a job. I choose not to view this position or any position in the future as merely a “job” because there is often a negative connotation associated with that term. I am seeking a lifetime opportunity in which I can positively impact others, create change and encounter experiences that consistently help me to become the best version of myself.
  6. Seek a position that you can “grow with” rather than “grow into”: For me, a dream position is one which I find challenging, stimulating and ultimately, doable. A position for which I have to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to understand or accomplish effectively, or one that I consistently feel is not feasible is not the one for me. Since I am interested in family practice, my ideal position is also one in which I can achieve employment longevity.
  7. Start on Cloud 8: Ultimately, my ideal physician’s assistant position is similar to my current position as a chapter consultant. I must find an opportunity that is fulfilling and stimulating as-is; this is cloud eight. I must also find an opportunity that has “Aha!” or ”Wow!” moments, moments that catapult regular feelings of satisfaction to those of euphoria; this is cloud nine. Finding a position or opportunity that is always perfect – one in which I am always on cloud nine – is impossible. What I can find instead is a position that helps me to reach cloud nine as frequently as possible.

I know how to reach my cloud eight. Do you?

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It’s Always Christmas in Alpha Chi

web_Jordyn_ChewBy: Jordyn Chew
Chapter Consultant
Epsilon Kappa, California State University – Fullerton

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year for many reasons. It is the time of year when lights are strung on houses, the search is on for the perfect Christmas tree, the community is decorated in red and green, peppermint-flavored drinks arrive at Starbucks, time off from school or work is spent with friends and family, and, of course, the exchange of gifts too.

Surrounded by red and green, I am reminded of Alpha Chi Omega everywhere I look (not that this is anything out of the ordinary). During this season of giving, I can’t help but reflect on the ways in which Alpha Chi has given so much to me. Within this last year, I cherished my last semester as a collegiate member, became an alumna and Life Loyal member, and began my first year as a chapter consultant. Through these various experiences, I have had the opportunity to see first-hand the ways in which Alpha Chi Omega gives abundantly to our new and lifetime members.

As a consultant, my work with colonizing one of Alpha Chi’s newest chapters allowed me to witness the ways in which our newest members’ lives are instantaneously changed by the addition of Alpha Chi Omega. From the moment they arrived on bid day, the look of excitement spread across their faces is one I will never forget. Most of these women never thought they would join a sorority, but they knew Alpha Chi Omega and what we stand for was something they wanted to be a part of and couldn’t contain their excitement.

Within days, as our new sisters had their first chapter meeting and sisterhood event, Alpha Chi Omega gave them the opportunity to make new friends they may not have met otherwise, hone their leadership skills as they ran for positions, develop personally as they went through our Dedication program, and be a part of something bigger than themselves like they never had before. Their love for Alpha Chi Omega was growing with every passing day.

As weeks turn into months and these new members become lifetime members, a whole new set of opportunities will present themselves. They will continue to expand their social and professional networks within their chapter, on their campus, in the community and with alumnae and sisters across the nation. They will understand the importance and beauty of our Ritual and how it can guide them in their everyday lives. They will learn about healthy relationships and domestic violence awareness while making a difference on their campus and in the community through Healthy Relationships Week and DVA Month; educational programming; and philanthropy events hosted by our chapters. They will have multiple opportunities for personal and leadership development with our MyJourney program, Leadership Academy, educational programs, such as InTune and Represent, and so many more.

As months turn into years and these collegiate members become alumnae members, these women will continue to be presented with opportunities because of their membership in Alpha Chi Omega. They will go on to become members of alumnae chapters and continue fostering and forming relationships with their sisters. They will give to the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation and support our organization in providing educational and philanthropic endeavors to our sisters across the nation. They will take on an advisor or other volunteer role and have the chance to mentor our collegiate members, play their part in supporting and advancing our organization and attend Volunteer Summit and other advisor trainings.

During this season of giving, I encourage you to reflect on the ways in which you can give back to the organization that has given us so much. As we approach another recruitment season, and the colonization of two new chapters, you might look for ways to help give the gift of Alpha Chi Omega to potential new members. As convention is fast approaching, you might give yourself the gift of joining sisters in Orlando to connect with sisters across the nation. As we are busy buying gifts for our family and friends, think about recognizing a sister with a donation to the Foundation in her name. As new executive boards are elected and our chapters head into 2016, consider how you can get more involved with your chapter as a collegian or as an alumnae volunteer.

As I recall sharing during a recruitment speech, “Alpha Chi Omega is truly something special.” We offer our members not only a lifetime of sisterhood but also a lifetime of opportunity and growth, and I could not be more proud to be a part of such an organization.

With our colors of red and green, my chapter sisters used to say, “It’s always Christmas in Alpha Chi.”  With our giving spirit, that couldn’t be more true.

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Full Circle

web_Taylor_ThesingBy: Taylor Thesing
Epsilon Tau, Virginia Tech
Resident – University of Kentucky

We make decisions every day. Some decisions are easy and don’t require much thought, while others are more difficult. Some decisions are small and alter our paths ever so slightly, while others are big and change the whole course of our lives. When I was 18 years old, I made two big decisions that changed the course of my life.

First, I decided what college to attend. Most people know that I chose to attend Virginia Tech, but not everyone knows that I also applied and was accepted to the University of Kentucky. Attending Virginia Tech allowed me to stay in-state where I could be nearer to my family, yet left me to sometimes wonder what my college experience would have been like had UK been my choice.

Not long after I arrived at Virginia Tech, I made another life-altering decision: I chose to join Alpha Chi Omega, an organization that I fell in love with during formal recruitment. Over the course of four years, I made so many fun memories with my chapter. Visiting Gatlinburg, Tennessee for my sisterhood retreat; dancing with sisters for our signature philanthropy event; attending date parties; and mentoring, then initiating a new member class in the spring of 2014 were among some of the best. Because of Alpha Chi, I was able to take on a leadership role, become more actively involved in the community, excel academically and meet my forever friends – the kind who will one day be my future bridesmaids!

As I reflect on these life-altering decisions, it becomes clear how different my life would have been had I attended UK. Without a chapter on campus at that time, there would have been no Alpha Chi sisters by my side during my college journey. Imagine my surprise as a newly hired chapter consultant when I found out my assignment would be UK! This opportunity has allowed my Alpha Chi experience to come full circle.

Over the past semester, it has been my privilege to be part of the team behind the recolonization of the Delta Omega chapter at the University of Kentucky. Lexington has become part of my life after all, not as a collegian but as a young professional, working for an organization that helped mold me into the woman I am today. Sharing my love for Alpha Chi with the entire UK community and, more importantly, with the founding members and advisors of a newly installed chapter has been very rewarding. I see how much of a positive impact Alpha Chi is already having in the members’ lives, and I’m making a whole new set of memories that I will cherish forever. Together we are creating an amazing legacy in the Big Blue Nation.

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Take a Moment

web_Haleigh_RobertsBy: Haleigh Robers
Delta Zeta, Central Michigan University
Resident Consultant – Loyola Marymount University

With one of the most beloved American holidays, Thanksgiving, right around the corner, there’s no doubt that our minds are filled with anxious thoughts. Whether it’s anticipating a much-needed break or already tasting the Thanksgiving Day menu, I can see the urgency in everyone’s faces for the holiday to arrive.

As a chapter consultant, being on a college schedule comes with the territory, so I still mirror this anticipation felt by students all across the country. Although I can cook for myself, I’m ready for a home-cooked meal. Although I call my Mom almost every day, I’m ready to fly those 2,032 miles and be surrounded by family again.  And yes, although I love my job, like anyone, I’m ready for a relaxing break!

As it is with many holidays, we tend to get preoccupied with the hustle and bustle of life. Sometimes, we forget what the holidays are truly about amidst the agendas, the planning, the food and the parties.

Thanksgiving sometimes gets overlooked as that one holiday that falls between Halloween and Christmas, but the beauty of Thanksgiving is that, in its simplest form, it’s a day devoted to giving thanks, gratitude and appreciation.

I have always been grateful for Alpha Chi Omega. During my collegiate years, my chapter gave me a home away from home, some of my best friends, personal development, leadership opportunities and endless experiences and memories that I will forever refer to as the best four years of my life.

After becoming a consultant, however, I have exponentially added to my gratitude list. In this position, I’ve learned a few things. I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to work for an organization that I love and meet other women who love it too. I am lucky enough to work with some of the best women I have ever met, and even luckier that they are my sisters and my support system. I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to give back to an organization that changed my life in amazing ways. Alpha Chi Omega has provided me a world of opportunity, and none of it would be possible without the women who came before me and the women today who work so hard to see Alpha Chi live up to everything it is meant to be.

So this Thanksgiving I ask you to do one thing; when you start to feel that anxious feeling to get home and away from it all, pause and reflect on everything you have to be thankful for. We waste so much time wanting to get to the next place instead of taking a moment to send some gratitude into the world.

“To appreciate every little service rendered; to see and appreciate all that is noble in another…” – words of wisdom from our very own symphony. If there are sisters you are thankful for, let them know. I know I’ll be doing just that this Thanksgiving holiday.

Thank you, Alpha Chi Omega, for all the wonderful things you’ve given so many women over the years to be thankful for.

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The Chapter Consultant Career Choice: A Parent’s Perspective

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By: Valerie and Giancarlo Magliocchetti
Parents of Maree Magliocchetti, Past Chapter Consultant

For those of you who know Maree, you know of her strong will and determination, especially once she sets her mind on something. As her parents we know it all too well, so when she announced to us that she couldn’t be more excited about a job offer as a chapter consultant for Alpha Chi Omega we knew two things. The first was that she was going to take the job, the second that she was going to devote her heart and soul into it and we couldn’t be happier or prouder of our daughter.

Throughout her years at the University of New Hampshire we watched as she grew into the impressive woman who stood before us on the eve of her graduation, and we knew that Alpha Chi Omega had something to do with it. We were excited for our daughter but we would be lying if we said we weren’t a little apprehensive about the chapter consultant opportunity.  She had always been independent, but her leaving home and traveling for however long worried us. Maree is one of our five kids and as a family we are very close. We of course would miss her greatly but we were most concerned about how she would feel away from her friends and family. Would she get home sick? Was she safe? We knew Maree could do anything she set her mind to, but was this the right professional move for her?

It didn’t take long for our concerns to dissolve. Her enthusiasm and happiness rang clear in our frequent conversations. It often seemed unfathomable that she could be as energetic and excited as she was with the pace at which she traveled, but as time went on we realized it was because she was thriving in the environment in which she found herself. We would inquire about her safety and if she was home sick with all the travel. She responded with, “I miss my family and friends a tremendous amount, but I’m not homesick nor am I unsafe because I am always surrounded by sisters.”  It became a favorite family pastime to hear the stories she had to tell from the places she had visited. We couldn’t believe some of the challenges and firsts she was experiencing. We would ask if it ever got too much for her to handle and she would say “it’s not always easy but it is during the difficult tasks that I find myself growing the most.” And grow she did.Maree_blog2

The truth is there were moments when Maree was homesick; there were times when life’s unexpected turns gave her reason to question whether she should continue traveling away from home. There were times when tasks appeared even too daunting for our daughter to overcome. But for all of those times there were moments that proved to us and to Maree, that working for her organization as a chapter consultant is where she needed to be. The kinds of moments when hard work paid off, when she left a trip knowing she helped a chapter break though a barrier and accomplish a goal that seemed impossible. There were moments of humble reflection when she visited somewhere she had only read about in books or seen in movies; or met someone from across the country who helped her see something in a way she hadn’t before. Moments when she would talk about her renewed faith in humanity as she marveled at the kindness and compassion she found in the women with whom she worked. It goes without saying but the the joy we felt as parents hearing her describe the moments above was incredible. So when the time came for her to discuss with us the opportunity to travel an additional year, we couldn’t help but empower her to accept.

The last of our concerns, whether this was the right professional move for her was answered at the end of her journey working for Alpha Chi Omega. After hearing all of the different skills she was developing as chapter consultant we knew that this role could take her anywhere, it was just a matter of figuring out where she wanted to be. Maree decided that she wanted to pursue a career in finance and move back to New England. We are thrilled that her versatile professional experience led her to where she is now, working in Boston at Morgan Stanley as a financial advisor. We are happy she is happy and it’s of course an extra bonus that she’s back in the area, nice and close to her family. Yet, above all we are so pleased with the woman Maree has become. Her involvement in this organization throughout college and after graduation has allowed her to prosper into, as Maree says it, a “better version of herself” and for that, the Magliocchetti family sends their everlasting thanks to the sisters of Alpha Chi Omega.

Fondly,
Valerie and Giancarlo Magliocchetti

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