Already Registered? Please Login

User Name: 
Password: 
  
Remember Me:
Please Note: The "Remember Me" option is not recommended for use with shared computers.

New to the Website?

Register Here: Collegians or Alumnae

Home > Collegians > Blogs > Collegians Blog

Collegians Blog

Posted On: Monday, May 18, 2015 08:30 AM, by Emily Sterk
Epsilon Omega members bagging produce for Produce to People.
As Thetas, spreading the widest influence for good is one of our highest priorities. We schedule and plan volunteer activities and service events weeks in advance in order to ensure successful outcomes. Although we look forward to these annual events, sometimes the most rewarding service experiences are ones that are unplanned and on short notice. When members of the Greek community on Washington & Jefferson's campus were presented with an opportunity to help with a few local organizations in need, Epsilon Omega Chapter stepped up to answer the call in an effort to expand our influence as much as we could.

Here in Washington County, a variety of programs are offered to help those community members in need. Produce to People, an organization developed just this past fall, provides fresh produce to families that have difficulty paying their grocery bill each week. This produce distribution program serves as an additional resource to the local food bank, and people are encouraged to come to as many distributions as needed, all while attending the food bank as well. Each family receives up to 50 pounds of fresh produce and non-perishables, and those who utilize Produce to People have noted the large impact it has had on their lives. Parents are able to provide their children with not only basic essentials but also healthy foods, which is sometimes not conceivable on a tight budget. Sisters who helped with the Produce to People distributions bagged groceries alongside other members of the community, including W&J students, professors, and staff members. By simply bagging foods that the majority of us know is always accessible to us in our kitchen or dining hall, we were able to see the sheer value of nutrients and the importance of helping families in need.

Another program that we have volunteered for and have gotten much more out of then we intended was a Washington-based agency that runs an annual program entitled "A Grateful Heart." This program provides meals for local community members participating in substance treatment programs during the holiday season. Our experience with "A Grateful Heart" was especially enlightening because it opened our eyes to the issue of addiction in our community. We became aware that addiction does not discriminate, and that it can be easy to fall into the category of an addict. Those lining up for meals ranged from young to old, single to married, Caucasian to African-American, men to women. We were overwhelmed by the support the entire community has and the devotion they all share for getting each other into recovery.

During our time volunteering for these organizations, we were able to meet a number of people who empowered us to keep spreading good, and because of our positive learning experiences with the participants, we have continued to work with these programs. Exercising the widest influence for good requires one to be willing to assist anyone in need, to be selfless and to put others before oneself, and to be committed to the growth of people and the community. With school, work, sports, and other involvements, it is easy to get caught up in our schedules, but these programs have reminded us how meaningful and insightful volunteerism can truly be.

Emily Sterk, Epsilon Omega/Washington & Jefferson, is the chapter's scholarship director.

Posted On: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 08:00 AM, by Stephanie Manley
L-R: Taylor Reynolds, Jordyn Cohen from One Love Foundation, and Abby Huth
What I find most frightening about love is its basic lack of uniformity. It doesn't look the same for anyone, and it feels different for everyone.

Epsilon Psi Chapter at the University of Richmond received a heavy dose of love, in all its darkness and lightness, this past February when the One Love Foundation visited campus. The organization was created in honor of Yeardley Love, a Theta at the University of Virginia, who lost her life to relationship violence at the hands of her ex-boyfriend in 2010.

"We immediately jumped at the opportunity to help spread awareness regarding relationship violence," said Abby Huth, Epsilon Psi's chief executive officer, regarding the foundation's visit. "I felt strongly connected to the organization mostly because Yeardly was a Theta but also because I felt that my fellow chapter members would relate to her, too."

During the visit with Richmond's Thetas, One Love representatives shared a film meant to illustrate an abusive relationship. The 40-minute documentary, titled "Escalation," fully captured the multifaceted nature of relationship violence—emotional, psychological and physical abuse—by depicting, from start to end, the relationship of two college students.

Meant to educate young adults on the various realities of relationship abuse, the film sparked intense conversation among the Theta attendees. Tears were shed, inevitably, due to shattering realizations, while thoughts were shared during the debriefing session.

"Relationship violence is often overlooked and overshadowed by sexual violence, especially on college campuses," said Huth. "So, I think it's really important that we educated our chapter on this issue."

"It definitely broadened the scope of how I will think about relationship violence moving forward," added senior Caroline Maugeri. "After such an intense video, the conversation was good way to reiterate the signs and commonalities we all were struck by in the video."

The One Love Foundation has grown significantly over the years, raising awareness about the warning signs of relationship abuse and seeking to prevent future tragedies such as Yeardly's. With the organization's growth comes the unfortunate truth that many women don't realize they are in unhealthy relationships, and simultaneously, bystanders don't recognize the signs.

I was shaken by the film.

Many sisters, myself included, concluded that we knew very little about what relationship violence looks like. It can be subtle, virtually invisible. It can disguise itself as infatuation, love at first sight. It can look like a drunken mistake, when in actuality it is none of the above.

Prior to the showing, as well as afterwards, members were asked to fill out a survey in which several questions were asked involving perceptions of and experiences with relationship violence. My answers were vastly different from the pre-viewing to the post-viewing.

What made me feel safe in a time of vulnerability was being surrounded by Thetas and knowing, with full confidence, that this was a supportive network readily accessible to me.

Relationship violence impacts 1 in 3 women. It's more common than one may think, as it doesn't always appear outwardly obvious. At the end of the film, the characters playing the friends of the featured couple were asked if they had seen warning signs, if they felt they could have prevented the death of the young woman. Overwhelmingly, they responded with "maybes" and "in hindsight," but truly these bystanders were not capable of reading the signs, like many college students today.

There was a large group consensus that it would be beneficial for all Richmond students to watch the film, to learn about what goes on behind closed doors, as it may not be so private after all.

"Whether they know it or not, this can really affect people," said Maugeri.

I have to agree.

Learn more about the One Love Foundation at www.joinonelove.org.

Stephanie Manley, Epsilon Psi/Richmond, is graduating this spring.

Posted On: Monday, March 30, 2015 08:00 AM, by Leah Kuck
Leah (top) and Chelsea Klein.
When it was announced that Kappa Alpha Theta would be reestablished at Wake Forest the spring of my junior year, I wasn't necessarily planning to join. I'd gone through recruitment my freshman year, dropped out of the process, and had written off Greek life as "not for me." But my best friend Megan encouraged me to go to the pre-interview events, and sign up to talk to some of the women of Kappa Alpha Theta. I was sold.

Joining a "colony" (or newly established chapter) was different than joining an established sorority on campus in many ways. New members usually go through some kind of education on the sorority's history, symbols, values, and philanthropy. With a charter class, there are no big sisters to help you through the material, or cover for you when you don't know what's coming next. Instead of big sisters, we had two wonderful ELCs (Joni Jameson and Alyssa Trumbull) who helped us through it. All 150 of us learned together, at the same time, which made everything about sisterhood feel more sincere. And everything we learned helped us form our own vision for what we wanted our chapter to be.

Another difference (I won't say challenge) is that as an upperclassman, most of us juniors were pretty well established in other activities on campus, and already had a solid group of friends. Most of my friends in other sororities, by junior year, had a good group of girlfriends within their sororities. I had joined Theta with one of my best friends, but didn't have the time or energy to bond with some of my other sisters. Honestly, I wish I'd invested more time in getting to know my fellow Thetas, and it's one of the things I'd do over if given the chance.

Throughout my first semester with Kappa Alpha Theta, I learned a lot about the history of the sorority, and about myself. One of our founders, Bettie Locke, took it upon herself to start a women's fraternity after she was not allowed to join a men's fraternity on campus. With this action, she helped to shape the way sororities are today. Sitting in a room with 150 women who wanted to help make our chapter the best we could be, I joined the marketing committee and worked on our philanthropy, celebrating Theta (Theta Thursday!) and even designing some t-shirts.

While I didn't make as many connections as I wish I had, there were so many other benefits that I found through joining Theta. When I pledged, I hadn't set out to be involved in the leadership within Theta (I had a lot of other leadership positions on campus at the time). But when it came time for Theta to choose its first leadership group, I decided to put my name in the hat. I'm not exactly sure why, since I was busy, but I felt like I should give back to the group that had already taught me so much.

I wasn't expecting to get the phone call to be the first chief marketing officer of the new Zeta Omicron chapter. Honestly, I wasn't expected to be chosen for anything. But I gladly accepted the position, and did the best I could to help shape the vision that my sorority sisters had for the chapter. But that's another blog post :)

Overall, I had a very positive experience with joining a sorority charter class. I'd recommend it to anyone who's on the fence, or at least talking to the women from the sorority headquarters before dismissing the idea of joining. I didn't know how fulfilling and enriching the experience would be, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Leah Kuck, Zeta Omicron/Wake Forest, graduated in May 2014. She and Chelsea Klein are the founders of the Life, Love, and Coffee Stains blog.

Posted On: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 08:00 AM, by Allie Drifke
Allie being sworn in as a CASA advocate.
Twenty-five years ago, Kappa Alpha Theta set out to create the widest influence for good by partnering with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). CASA became Theta's new philanthropy, but no one could imagine just how influential each organization would be for the other, especially at Gamma Pi/Iowa State!

Gamma Pi Chapter is home to five—yes, five!—CASA volunteers. Each chapter member works with CASA for a different reason, and each experience is different, but their sisterhood bonds them together.

Junior Hannah Yokiel recently began volunteering at CASA of Story County, Ia., and hopes to be a CASA intern in the future. This experience has given her the opportunity to job-shadow an organization that provides others with social support.

"My college experience focuses on social services, and volunteering with CASA is a great opportunity for me to be more involved and give back to the Fraternity's philanthropy," said Hannah. "I have learned a lot about CASA from my Theta sisters who are actively involved as CASA advocates. Sharing a passion for CASA with my sisters makes volunteering a more meaningful experience."

Jessica Taylor, a sophomore who is a CASA advocate for Polk County, Ia., pledged Theta because of her previous experiences with CASA.

"I was inspired by my grandma to become a CASA. She was a guardian ad litem in Minnesota for 10 years, and always told me amazing stories about children getting to better places," said Jessica. "Being a CASA influenced my decision to become a Theta because I was a CASA prior to even attending Iowa State. It made choosing Theta a lot easier for me because Thetas support what is such a worthy cause to me."

Senior Maddy Neerhof is currently in the process of going through training to become a CASA advocate.

"I'm drawn to CASA because they allow for people who genuinely care to help children who can't always speak for themselves," said Maddy. "I love the idea of a child always having someone 100 percent on his or her side when needed most."

Jane Morrison, a senior, completed training to be a Story County CASA advocate this past July.

"The first time I was informed about CASA was during formal recruitment, and I was instantly intrigued," said Jane. "Being a part of Theta and having my sisters' support helped push me to apply after my 21st birthday and go through training soon after. During training, two really cool things happened. First, I met a fellow Theta from the University of Iowa. Second, I realized that being a CASA was not going to be either easy or as expected."

Senior Allie Drifke was recently sworn in as an advocate for Story County CASA and also works in the office as an intern.

"When I began college, I knew that I wanted to work with children," said Allie. "I have always had a passion for helping others, and after I joined Theta I realized that I wanted to work in social services because I wanted to help children in need. I know that without Kappa Alpha Theta I would not have realized my full potential, and I would not have become a CASA advocate and intern. Every CASA volunteer can agree that the feeling of helping a child find the right home cannot be put into words. And every Theta sister can agree that CASA means so much more to us than just a philanthropy."

Hannah Yokiel put it perfectly when she said, "This experience is more than volunteering—it is life-changing knowing that you impact a child and his or her future."

Allie Drifke and Jane Morrison, both Gamma Pi, are graduating from Iowa State University this spring.

Posted On: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 08:00 AM, by Raychel Shipley
L-R: Beta Phi Chief Recruiting Officer Catie Metcalf and CEO Raychel Shipley
Like many large universities, mine is known as a party school. Students at the university wear the label like a badge of honor—and admittedly, many members of the Greek community do, too.

As college students, we think we're invincible. We push the limits and test our bodies just to see how far we can push them. Luckily, because we are young and healthy, the consequences of our actions are rarely severe or scary. But the harsh reality, I've come to realize, is that we're on a fast track to disaster if we don't slow down.

This is a problem for women like you and me because we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves. When we were initiated into Kappa Alpha Theta, we promised to live every day honoring the Fraternity's values. To act in a destructive manner is to compromise the reputation and integrity of our beloved sisterhood—one that has been thriving far longer than any of us have been alive.

My chapter has come a long way in the past four years, but last semester, the strength of our chapter was tested. The unfortunate and harsh realities of college pressures hit us hard: Many of our members struggled with emotional issues, and our Panhellenic came under fire for less-than-safe social policies. As our sisterhood was strained, we searched for answers. Now, more than ever, was the time for us to remind our sisters of what it means to wear Kappa Alpha Theta letters. In a campus with a frequently unhealthy social climate and lots of social pressure, it was up to the Thetas to emerge as leaders and advocates for change.

As an exec board, we thought the best way to convey this message—a starting point—was to do our own version of T.J. Sullivan's "You're Always Wearing Your Letters" speech. This message is serious, yet lighthearted and sincere. It's simple, but the meaning is real.

We premiered our video at a recent chapter meeting. While I watch it and giggle at the goofiness and personality of our chapter, it is my hope that we can inspire other chapters that face similar adversity to think about the true meaning of sisterhood and loyalty to Kappa Alpha Theta.

It might be a small start, but it's a step in the right direction in order to combat years of unhealthy habits. It was a rough semester, yes. But because of it, our sisterhood is stronger than ever.

Raychel Shipley, Beta Phi/Penn State, is the chapter’s chief executive officer.

Posted On: Monday, January 12, 2015 08:30 AM, by Kylie Sturgis
Delta Eta at the WildKAT Chase 5K
Delta Eta/Kansas State has a connection with the Sunflower CASA Project, Inc. in Manhattan, Kan., that goes above the norm, and has made a difference in the lives of Thetas and CASA volunteers alike.

This year at our 18th annual WildKAT Chase 5K run, our chapter raised $15, 515—an all-time high for our chapter! The women of Delta Eta continue to be the largest donor for Sunflower CASA, which has propelled a much deeper relationship. (Watch our video from last year's race.)

Samantha Moore, who served as our service and philanthropy director last year, was invited to sit on the board of directors for Sunflower CASA and has done so for the last year. "Because of the importance of confidentiality, it can be challenging to connect with CASA in a direct manner," she says, "but we strive to increase our involvement each year. Our improved relationship with the CASA volunteers and staff has brought a whole new meaning of philanthropy to our chapter."

Our chapter has found several unique ways to make a significant impact for the organization, while at the same time respecting the boundaries that are set up to protect the children that CASA serves. Some of these ways include making valentines and donating Christmas gifts for CASA kids, using a bear-stuffing event during recruitment week to not only create a gift for new CASA children but to also raise awareness about CASA's mission to many different young women, and also encouraging chapter members to get more involved in the Sunflower CASA.

Currently, three of our members serve as volunteers, with many more alumnae serving as volunteers in the Manhattan area. One volunteer, senior Kindall Shenefield, enjoys being on both sides of this important partnership. "One of the most rewarding parts of being a CASA volunteer is the opportunity to see firsthand how we are Thetas are able to make a difference in the lives of children," she says. "What we do has meaning."

Delta Eta also has one member who is joining Sunflower CASA in a developmental internship and has been working with both the chapter and Sunflower CASA to build a stronger relationship. Mattie Loder, a senior majoring in accounting and nonprofit leadership studies, has been working with Sunflower CASA for a semester and believes the association between Theta and CASA is an essential part of her development as a leader. "The strategic partnership between Delta Eta and Sunflower CASA is important, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to strengthen that relationship and add value to both organizations and further their missions." Read more about what she is doing.

Mattie, along with the women of Delta Eta, are constantly striving to further the value of Kappa Alpha Theta for the widest influence for good by continuing to better their relationship with CASA and, in turn, bettering themselves.

Kylie Sturgis, Delta Eta/Kansas State, served as the chapter's communications director last year.


<< View Older Entries