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!
If you are graduating this spring, post-grad life is a topic that's certainly on your mind. What jobs am I going to apply for? Where am I going to live? How am I going to create a new community for myself? The thought of this next adventure can be nerve-wracking and intimidating; however, with a little help from your Theta sisters, you can make the change a little bit less daunting.
Whether you are planning to graduate this spring or have graduated ten years ago, here are three ways you can stay connected with Kappa Alpha Theta after your college years:
1. Find an alumnae group near you. Whether you are moving back home or trying out a new city, an alumnae chapter or circle is a great way to stay connected with Theta and to meet other alumnae in your area. Many alumnae chapters/circles offer great opportunities to get involved in the community, plan service events, or be a part of a "special interest" group that focuses on fun activities such as gardening, hiking, and many more. Find an alumnae group near you.
2. Apply to serve on a chapter's advisory board. A great way to not only stay connected but to give back is to get involved as a volunteer on a chapter's advisory board. These women play a large role in a chapter's operations. They are able to support and guide chapter officers through their roles, while also supporting the chapter as a whole. To serve on an advisory board is incredibly rewarding and an experience unlike any other. Learn how to volunteer for Theta.
3. Join Kappa Alpha Theta on social media. With the power of the Internet and social media, Thetas all over the world are able to connect instantly. These social media sites help collegians and alumnae create and develop relationships with one another. Whether you are looking for a new career path, roommate, or friend in another country, these sites allow you to connect in ways that weren't possible only a few years ago. Two recommended sites are the Kappa Alpha Theta Global Alumnae group on Facebook and the Kappa Alpha Theta group on LinkedIn, which has more than 20,000 members!
Your Theta experience doesn't end after your college years. There is still so much to gain and give throughout the years that follow graduation. After all, Theta is for a lifetime!
Prior to becoming a Kappa Alpha Theta ELC, my plan was to go to graduate school to further my education in communication. While my plan to further my education has not changed, I've become increasingly unsure of what exactly it is I want to study or how soon I want to go back to school. This job has opened my eyes to all the different possibilities out there and has forced me to reflect on what exactly I enjoy doing and what I am passionate about. However, all of the options are just so intriguing and interesting that it makes my decision that much harder. Where do I want to live? What do I want to study? Do I want to go to school right away? There are so many unanswered questions running through my head but one question that could be answered is: what do the other ELCs want to do with their life after their time in this position? I am constantly inspired by these women, their ambitions, their strength, their poise, and their compassion; why wouldn't I be inspired by them to help make my decision about the future? So I went ahead asked the current 2014-2015 ELC team: what do you want to do after being an ELC?
All of their replies made me so proud to be surrounded by such incredible women with amazing goals for themselves, but I don't think it helped my decision in any way and now I'm in a dilemma...do I want to take time to travel and go backpacking through Europe like Maddie Intfen, who then wants to be an educator for kids like Courtney Lynch? Maybe I want to work in marketing and travel the world like Alyssa Barnes and Julia Hart. I'm already on the same page as Sarah Kindscher and Ashley Freeman who want to go back to school but they want to become licensed counselors, whereas my interests may be more aligned with Alexa Borowski who wants to go to law school and start her own business, or Annie Hornung and Anna Crary who want to get their Masters in Higher Education. But then again, I suppose I am just sort of in the same position as Margaret Burke and Kaitlyn Luppino who just know they want to go back to school. I've had experience working in fundraising and development for my alma mater, which is what Sami Bahu wants to do, but then again maybe I don't want to work right away. I studied French for 8 years so I could move to France with Aquene Kenerson or move to Spain with Madison Cannon! Our favorite leading lady, Bettie Locke, once said there are "endless possibilities for the good and close friendships that this fraternity makes possible through the years" and similarly, there are endless possibilities for the future that I would not have considered as an option without inspiration from my Theta sisters.
Each one of these women inspires me to challenge myself, set a goal, and make it happen. While today I may believe I want to go to law school, tomorrow I may decide I want to follow my dream of studying fashion. I may not know exactly what I want to do right now but I do know that no matter what, Theta will always be there to support and inspire me.
For you college seniors, what do you want do after graduation?
Just a year ago, I walked across the stage, uncertain of the future ahead of me and what the upcoming year as an educational leadership consultant had in store. Fast forward one year later, and I stand in the exact same shoes, preparing to leave the Theta Theta/ North Carolina State University chapter.
It seems like just yesterday ELC April and I arrived in Raleigh, NC to establish the Theta Theta chapter. Unfamiliar with Raleigh and NC State's campus, April and I had to work from the ground up to familiarize ourselves with the Triangle area and learn NCSU's campus culture. We had to build a foundation for the chapter by educating the charter members on Kappa Alpha Theta and chapter operations.
The task in establishing a new Theta chapter was daunting, no doubt. The road in establishing the chapter was not always easy. Yet, the final outcome and the impact in which the Theta Theta chapter has made on NC State's campus and in the lives of April and I, far outweigh the obstacles and hurdles that were overcome in establishing the chapter.
As the much-dreaded goodbyes and packing begin, I can't help but to reflect proudly on the achievements of this past year. This past year has been filled with lifelong memories that will always have a special place in my heart.
However, just as with any graduation, it is now time to begin a new chapter in my life. I look forward to the future as I prepare to begin my second year as an educational leadership consultant. I am excited for the personal growth and development. More importantly, I look forward to forming more friendships with Theta women across North America and the positive impact these women will have in my life.
As many Theta members graduate this spring or begin new chapters in their own lives, I encourage each and every woman to seize the opportunity and future that lies ahead. Never hold back on a once in a lifetime opportunity that could potentially bring about an unforeseen positive change.