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Collegians Blog

Posted On: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 09:30 AM, by Pia Holtmeier
Pia (second on the right) and Epsilon Lambda members at the Light of Hope Ceremony.
The Epsilon Lambda chapter at Dickinson College prides itself on its close relationship with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Our sisters go beyond the basic philanthropic requirements to immerse themselves in the local CASA branch. The Cumberland County CASA has been a part of the community for 14 years, and Epsilon Lambda members have worked hard to cultivate and maintain strong relationships with their volunteers. In the spring semester, we participated in and organized two events to benefit Cumberland County and Pennsylvania CASA.

Each year, new CASA volunteers are sworn in during the Light of Hope Ceremony at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Carlisle. In early April, CASA welcomed five new members, and Epsilon Lambda was present during the ceremony to help make the event a memorable one. The marketing committee worked together to provide the food for the celebration, and sisters volunteered to help to set up the event. During the ceremony, everyone passes a candle from person to person, representing the hope that CASA volunteers bring to the lives of children everywhere. Light of Hope is one of our chapter's favorite events of the year, because it highlights the work of CASA volunteers, and gives them the recognition that they so deserve. We really love that our chapter can work so closely with our local CASA chapter; in the past, we've even had sisters work as CASA interns for their junior and senior years.

Later in April, Epsilon Lambda hosted our second annual Cuisine for CASA. Our signature philanthropy event brings together both the school and the community to support CASA. We work with restaurants and shops in the area to provide food, entertainment, and items for a silent auction. We sell tickets to the Dickinson student population, and CASA invites all of its volunteers, including one of the local Carlisle judges who works with CASA. All of the proceeds go to the local CASA association and Theta Foundation. Cuisine for CASA has grown quite popular within the Dickinson community even in just its second year. All of our sisters work hard to make the event a success and we work to involve other clubs and Greek organizations on campus through a dessert challenge.

Epsilon Lambda recognizes the hard work and dedication of CASA advocates everywhere for their efforts in being a voice for the child in need. Our chapter is extremely fortunate to be based so close to a local CASA chapter, because we get to witness firsthand the great work CASA volunteers do.

Share with us how you and/or your chapter promote and support CASA in the Comments section below!

Pia Holtmeier, Epsilon Lambda/Dickinson, is the service and philanthropy director for her chapter.

Posted On: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 09:00 AM, by Emma Kortebein
Emma Kortebein
Gamma/Butler
In February, I was honored to receive a special invitation to "Reflections on the White House," a presentation by former first lady Laura Welch Bush, Beta Sigma/SMU. I had seen her on TV, of course, and I was already impressed. But that night, I was in awe. She carried herself with such poise, confidence, and obvious kindness. Even though I was one of the last people in the receiving line to meet and be photographed with Mrs. Bush, she was still so warm and welcoming when meeting me.

The eight students invited to the event, including myself, were able to sit down privately with Mrs. Bush and ask her our prepared questions. She discussed everything from how she met the former president to his ascent to the White House to the strange adjustment period that followed his two terms. The work she has accomplished through the Bush Institute and her continued advocacy for the education and rights of woman and children around the globe left me awestruck. As the evening went on, I was able to form a better picture of this woman: a mother, a wife, a daughter, a teacher, and a leader in her own right. The more she shared, the more real and amazing she became.

In reflecting on this experience, I concluded that what makes Mrs. Bush so extraordinary is that she is relatable in a way only a real-life role model can be. She is not some distant standard or ideal that is admired for its impossibility to attain. Rather, she is proof that all of the ideals and values that women, especially those of Kappa Alpha Theta, revere are things that can be accomplished every day in a way that positively affects those around us. She is a strong, confident, and educated woman who has never forgotten the importance of humility, care, and faith. Throughout her life, she has devoted herself to others and to positive change; she embodies all the reasons why I became a Theta and all the qualities it has helped me strive for.

I could not be more thankful to have had such a wonderful opportunity to represent the Gamma Chapter at such an awe-inspiring event.

Emma Kortebein, Gamma/Butler, is her chapter’s chief executive officer. She is a sophomore majoring in international business and minoring in Spanish.

Posted On: Monday, April 21, 2014 09:00 AM, by Elly Walker
Eta Iota/San Diego sisters at their Big/Little Reveal.
Greek college women across the country have jumped into a relatively new trend in Greek life by "throwing what they know." You may have noticed it on Twitter or Instagram, or seen photos on websites or blogs. Whether posing for a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower or spending the day on the beach with a few sisters, sorority members in all organizations are "throwing what they know" in photos by using their hands or arms to make a symbol or form the letters representing their organization.

While we're all proud of our groups and thrilled to represent them, we are also providing a direct representation of our organization to those who see these photos. Thetas have long formed the kite with their arms around a member, but the latest trend seems to be the "Theta mouth," in which members place their index finger horizontally across their open mouth to form the Greek letter Theta. These gestures often serve as the first impression people have towards Greeks. What impression do Thetas give when they form one of our sacred Greek letters by placing their finger to their mouth?

I believe that Thetas are leading women on every campus and in every community, but we taint our reputation by using such a patronizing gesture. If we reflect on the meaning of our letters and remember the strength of our founders, it's hard for me to see the connection between these high ideals and gestures like these. I guess you could say I'm not a fan of it, but I feel that instead of being looked at as an organization that fosters sisterhood, cultivates service and philanthropy, and instills leadership qualities in every member, we are judged by a gesture that is not respectful of our own letters.

So, when our sisters "throw what they know" and form one of our sacred Greek letters by pairing their hand to their mouth, I wonder if they actually know what they are throwing? Do they know that Bettie Locke's independence helped start a women's fraternal movement? Do they know that her perseverance was an example to women of how they could change their worlds? Do they know that she put her faith in women so they could inspire each other? We can promote our Fraternity in so many ways that convey what our organization represents. As a sisterhood that stands for scholarship, leadership, and service, we can show pride in our ritual and throw what we know by stretching a smile or embracing a sister. Our journey toward becoming leading women starts in college, so let's reflect on Bettie's vision for our Fraternity and respect the letters she and so many others throughout our history have strived to honor.

Elly Walker, Gamma Chi/Fresno State, is graduating in May 2014 with a bachelor of arts degree in mass communication and journalism. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master's degree in leadership studies.

Posted On: Friday, October 25, 2013 09:30 AM, by Sayda Morales
Sayda promoting consent education during Ask for It Day.
As a survivor of sexual violence, I spent eight years of my life feeling ashamed about what happened and doing anything to forget. But when I got to Whitman College and became a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, I found the experiences starting to resurface. The only difference was that this time I felt empowered to share my story in an effort to affect change.

I remember one particular evening sitting with my fellow sisters and talking about what happened. To be honest, I never thought I would talk about what happened to me between the ages of 12-14, but I felt so comfortable and supported by my Theta sisters that sharing my story was not only easy but necessary, because I did not want what happened to me to happen to any of them.

After learning that several close friends of mine were sexually assaulted on Whitman's campus but that not much was being done about it, myself and several other students (most of whom are Thetas) decided to form a group on campus in March that would work to eliminate sexual violence on and off campus.

In only eight months, we are now a recognized club on campus called All Students for Consent (ASC) with myself as co-president and several other Thetas in executive positions. We now have more than 100 supporters and about 40 active members! We have raised awareness about sexual misconduct on campus and have worked towards creating a safe and fun consent culture for all through consent education. We have presented to all first-year students and members of fraternities and sororities on campus.

One of our events is Ask for It Day, which is part of a larger campaign called "Asking for It." The purpose of the campaign was to put a twist on the insulting phrase that has often been used in victim-blaming such as, "She was asking for it by wearing that miniskirt," in which the "it" is sexual violence. However, we wanted the "it" to mean "consent" so that when people are asking for "it," what they are asking for is consent. We started the week by chalking and putting up educational posters, then we asked people if they would consent to a "kiss" (chocolate of course!) in the library and in dining halls. The event culminated in which attendees shared their consent stories and received cool "I Ask for It" temporary tattoos! Recently, we were also a winner of the Consent Revolution Awards put on by Force, an organization that shares ASC's mission.

To be honest, I never thought that I would be sharing my personal story and doing something to change my community for the better. And I firmly believe that I could not have done it without the love and support from my Theta sisters. I feel so proud to say that I am a Theta, and I am a leading woman in my college community.

Sayda Morales, Delta Delta/Whitman, serves her chapter as scholarship director and is a junior.

Posted On: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 05:30 AM, by Mary Rietmann
Mary Rietmann
Beta Epsilon/
Oregon State
I'd like to say it was my plan to wait until I was headed back to school to write this blog. I procrastinated for three months first, because I was enjoying the lack of responsibility summer vacation entails and second, because I was nervous—the latter being more significant—I promise. My experience at the Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) in Chicago, Illinois, in June deserves this entry so I shall attempt to do it justice.

Each ELI attendee completed the Gallup StrengthsFinder before coming to Chicago. This report gave each attendee a unique list of five "strengths" to build upon while at ELI. Responsibility, Harmony, Relator, Achiever, and Learner were identified as my strengths. While Gallup provided descriptions for each of these strengths, it was part of the ELI program to define our list of strengths as they pertain to us as individuals. I defined my strengths as follows: Responsibility means taking initiative and not putting off my work, Harmony means creating a safe place for people to express themselves, Relator means helping others connect with each other through their strengths, Achiever means being productive with my time, and Learner means getting the most out of the situation, regardless of what the situation is.

At one point in the two-day ELI program, we heard the story of Rudy. As you might know, Rudy had a dream to go to the Notre Dame to play football for the Fighting Irish. He devoted four years of his life to playing football, despite lacking the physical stature and talent necessary to play at the intercollegiate level. Only when his fellow senior teammates advocated for Rudy did he get to take the field. Rudy ultimately got to play in the final kickoff of his final game. While the story of Rudy is known for its inspiring message, one can only imagine how much Rudy would have been able to accomplish had he focused his time and energy on something he had a talent for.

Identifying your strengths and learning to appreciate the tools in your box, as opposed to constantly beating yourself up for not having better or different tools, I learned is the key to leadership. I am thankful for this experience because as a young woman, I know how easily self-confidence can be shattered. Focusing on my strengths taught me that before I can lead others, I have to recognize my own worth and strengths. Leading women does not start with large-scale change but, rather, on the individual level. This is a profound and achievable goal for us to aspire to as Thetas and women.

Mary Rietmann, Beta Epsilon/Oregon State, attended the 2013 Emerging Leaders Institute this past summer, and is a sophomore.

Posted On: Monday, September 30, 2013 09:45 AM, by Lauren Suttie
L-R: Lexi Hiland and Lauren Suttie, both Alpha Chi/Purdue
It seems impossible that four years have already gone by. I have officially been pushed into the real world after experiencing countless life-changing opportunities and meeting numerous people who have in some way, shape, or form influenced who I am today. Almost exactly four years ago, I decided to embark on an exciting, yet nerve-wrecking, journey by choosing Kappa Alpha Theta as my family away from home. I knew not a single soul. But that very first night spent in the house would mark a very special moment in my life. One that would change the course of my college career drastically, and for the better.

Despite being mostly all complete strangers, it was decided that we (our newly formed new member class) wanted to write a little something special for the seniors (and really everyone else) in the facility. After a moment of awkward asking and hand-raising, a girl by the name of Lexi Hiland and myself volunteered to lend our piano-skilled hands and voices (years later we would discuss how out of character that was for both of us). We timidly shook hands and swapped names while taking a seat at the piano. Over the course of the next couple of hours, a full song was completed with some lyrical help from the members of our new member class. After performing the entire song, it was decided that we would sing it for the seniors at the end of the year. So we kept it in our pockets until then. That one initial bonding experience became something extremely special for not only Lexi and I but everyone in our new member class.

We were asked the following year to perform it for formal recruitment on Suits Day- and so we did. For the next three years. We were lucky enough to also share it with an audience on Founders Day one year and for any other time of year when people were willing to hear. This song has become a tradition, a memory, and a treasure for Alpha Chi. This year for recruitment, though Lexi and I have graduated, the tradition continued with four other ladies singing and playing the song in our place.

Lexi and I went on to write a few more songs throughout the years, some with a band and others with just us two. Despite her living in New York City and me in St. Louis, we continue to write and record songs via email and computer programs in hopes of someday releasing an EP under our own band name. We still laugh today talking about how crazy it is that we met at Purdue under Kappa Alpha Theta's roof after coming from two very different backgrounds (Lexi was born in the country of Colombia and adopted by her parents growing up in Arizona and Carmel, Ind., and I was born in Wisconsin then moved to Kansas City, Kan., then St. Louis).

We wanted to share our story and our Theta love with you through our art. We hope you enjoy our song, called "Never Forget":

Lauren Suttie, Alpha Chi/Purdue, graduated in May and plans to continue recording more music with Lexi, in the hopes of releasing an album.


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