Why I Volunteer: To Inspire
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.