Repaying a Gift
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.