I cried on the morning of commencement. Graduation was a time to celebrate. I should have been all smiles, but this time was also bittersweet; on that morning I was also saying goodbye to my best friends, my proudest achievements, and the home I had comfortably shaped around myself over the last four years. Everything I did that morning was a last: last time getting ready at a mirror too small for five women to comfortably share, last time enjoying the easy convenience of living five steps from my best friend, last time stepping out of my house before I moved.
I usually don't cry when I think I should. Weddings, reunions, and the most sentimental toasts fill me with emotion but I rarely wear it on my face. That morning I surprised myself by bawling like a baby; it was the end of an era.
Five hours later, I had finished a lot of "lasts." I bid goodbyes to my friends. Campus was polished and new. Flowers had sprung up; my university was decked and adorned for the graduation ceremony. Behind the pomp, I recognized my old, familiar school and quietly said goodbye to it as well.
A rush of pride swept over me as I received my diploma; I had graduated. I realized then my college experience was so meaningful because it was finite.
The gap between graduation and ELC training had been pleasant but devoid of "firsts;" I had slept in the same bed I had since I was eight. I had run the same trails and eaten on the same plates. I arrived at summer ELC training blasting music in a silver rental car. My stomach bounced in happy, nervous anticipation; I was itching to learn new things and meet new people.
After I graduated, I gained a deeper appreciation for how impactful Theta can be. I became an ELC because of my college experience; I will always carry that with me. I have a sense of adventure now, though. I want to experience others "firsts." I want to see what makes other Theta's experiences so special and why, when it's time, it will be bittersweet for them to say goodbye, too.
Share with us your Theta story and why Theta is special to you in the comments section below!
As ELCs, we crave new experiences, adventures and growth. Serving the Fraternity as consultants has given us this opportunity. Reflecting on our experiences traveling throughout North America, living in new cities and meeting hundreds of Thetas, we are all in awe of what has been accomplished. For some ELCs, it is time to say goodbye to this adventure and hello to another.
Whether we are traveling the globe, moving to a new city, or headed home, we are permanently stamped with life lessons that will continue to benefit us. During our time as ELCs, we quickly learned to adapt to new environments and work with all types of people. We learned to be flexible, have an open mind, a generous heart and always tip the man checking our suitcases.
Most importantly, we are proud of how the ELC program has shaped us into the women we are today. We are eager for the next team of ELCs to share this experience and broaden their life's horizons.
As we say goodbye, we will forever carry in our hearts the miles traveled, people met, and adventures had. We know that just because we move to different states, or even countries, no border can sever the friendships Theta has given us. Thank you, Theta, for the adventure of a lifetime and now, on to the next!
A diverse team from different colleges and universities across country, each ELC brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team. Without a doubt, two things the ELC team has in common is a love for Theta and a desire to develop professionally. In reading the reflections of past ELCs over the course of this summer's Professional Blog Series, it is clear that the wealth of personal and professional skills develop from time spent on the road. When asked what skills the 2015-2016 ELC team hopes to develop during their year of traveling, there are many common themes: facilitation, public speaking, problem-solving, and effective communication, to name just a few. Though each ELC has a different assignment, from establishing a new chapter to traveling full-time, the professional experience gained is universal.
Wherever life takes this group of ELCs after their time traveling for Theta, there is no doubt they will be prepared and successful. If there is one thing repeated most by previous consultants, it is that being an ELC is an invaluable experience that comes with an equal number of challenges and adventures, but most importantly lifelong friends. Best of luck to the 2015-2016 ELCs in their travels!
View a list of the current 2015-2016 ELC team, and learn more about the ELC program!
In her work, Jennifer found that her ELC experience helped her gain footing professionally. "As a professional in consulting, I need to balance many projects simultaneously, with different deadlines and details, adapting to my clients' particular styles and needs, and not become debilitated by stress." In thinking about the expertise she developed as an ELC, Jennifer cites follow-through, self-sufficiency, and maturity as having made a lasting impact on both her personal and professional life.
Traveling as an ELC in 1979 looked very different from traveling as an ELC in 2015. Before the age of smartphones and the Internet, arranging travel, writing reports, and keeping in touch with family was more difficult. Jennifer is grateful for the alumnae she met during her travels who extended Theta hospitality by welcoming her into their homes for dinner. Now with her active involvement in the Los Angeles Alumnae Chapter, Jennifer makes a point to reach out to ELCs traveling to southern California. This past spring, two ELCs had the opportunity to meet up with her and do some sight-seeing from Beverly Hills to Hollywood Boulevard.
In looking back on her time as an ELC, Jennifer summarizes, "The opportunity to lead and to see results, the chance to make so many friends, and to see the country, was wonderful for me."
Though this brief explanation leaves out so many wonderful facets of my job, it highlights one of my favorite aspects: visiting college campuses. College campuses are such a fun place to be. To start, they are filled with energy and spirit. Something about having anywhere from hundreds to thousands of young adult students around makes me feel like I can take on the world. Their spirit is contagious - I feel inspired seeing all of the ambitious students bustling off to class or work knowing that the futures ahead of them are bright and filled with endless opportunities.
Secondly, college campuses are beautiful. Most campuses work to create a wonderful community filled with green grasses, trees, and plants as well as carefully designed buildings, statues, and more! Some campuses even have animals living on campus to see. I was lucky enough to see Mike the Tiger (Louisiana State University) while visiting the Delta Kappa chapter in fall of 2013.
Finally, they are rich in history and traditions! Probably my favorite part of visiting campuses is hearing about their unique campus traditions. Hearing students talk about rubbing their mascot's nose on game day (University of Connecticut) or yelling out their fight motto, "sic'em bears" when prospective student tour groups go by (Baylor University) is so fun to hear!
What is one of your favorite campus traditions from your campus or alma mater?
After spending several weeks touring the country from one airport to the next, I've caught myself quietly watching and wondering where my many fellow travelers are headed. Even as I sit, staring out the window of my flight, I'm curious to know where each one of those ant-like cars is headed. If I spend too much time with my head in the clouds, no pun intended, I find myself quickly missing things from home I never expected I would. After a quick poll of the other full-time traveling consultants, I realized we are all beginning to face our unexpected longings of home. After a quick text conversation as we all waited for our connecting flights, we made a list and below are some of the items that topped it.
Hugs: As independent as I am, I never realized how much I'd miss my friends, family and Theta sisters. Though each place I visit feels a little like home and I'm welcomed with open arms, being on the road makes you realizes the simple time spent with friends and family are precious. What an adventure I am on, but the best part of my day is sharing my stories with my friends and family.
Grocery shopping: Being blessed with an older sister and college roommate who has a knack for cooking, I haven't spent much time in the grocery store. I'd never would have guessed I'd miss picking out fresh produce and grabbing a gallon of milk from the corner store. Fresh grapes never tasted so good!
My mailbox: I've had a long love-affair with stationery and enjoy sending short notes to family and friends. Throughout college, I would send a little snail mail to anyone that happened to be on my mind. On the road you can find a post office or mailbox almost anywhere, but it's just not as convenient as my little black mailbox back home.
Driving: Traveling from chapter to chapter, the full-time traveling consultants cash in on frequent flyer miles. However, spending so much time in airports and making connections from A to B to C helps you to appreciate the small freedom found in driving. We all agree we get a little giddy at the idea of being behind the wheel and turning up the radio to relax and travel from point A to point B.
Autumn: After being on the road and seeing the weather begin to change, I find myself missing fall afternoons. There is nothing quite like taking a walk as the golden sunshine falls on you back and warms your cheeks. Autumn has crept up on me this year, but I'll welcome it all the same!
Though each of these are beautiful in their own way and make us all miss home, who has time to stay in that state of mind when there are more adventures to be had and chapters to visit. I am truly blessed to serve the Fraternity in this capacity and thankful for the inspiring women I've met along the way. With complete honesty, no other organization has shaped me more or had a bigger hand in writing my story.
Today, the ELCs will be together for the first time in eight weeks. We've traveled, adapted, experienced, and grown. We been inspired, challenged, tested and encouraged. We've met Leading Women all across the United States and Canada. We've missed home, but found a home in each chapter we've met. We've pursued our passion for Kappa Alpha Theta and, after just a few short weeks, our stories will never be the same.
How has Theta shaped your story?
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