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Collegians Blog

Posted On: Monday, November 23, 2015 08:44 AM, by Elizabeth Shevlin
Elizabeth Shevlin
Delta Phi/Clemson
This past June, ten sorority women, each representing Clemson University's different Panhellenic sororities, traveled to Senegal, Africa on behalf of Circle of Sisterhood, a non-profit organization founded and powered by sorority women to raise financial resources to help remove education barriers for girls and women facing poverty and oppression. Our group's mission: to break ground on a school in the small community of Mbelbouck and spread education to the women and children our school would eventually serve. I had the privilege of representing Kappa Alpha Theta during this trek.

Our group lived and worked alongside the members of the community, breaking bread, singing, dancing, sweating, and learning about one another's customs and cultures. One would think the combination of 110-degree temperatures and not one bit of electricity would make this trip unbearable. However, the people of Senegal taught me what it honestly means to be happy—living in a faithful community that continually supports one another.

Mbelbouck is a special place, full of people who want nothing more than to see their children receive a quality education in a stable environment. This truly showed in their work ethic, as by the time we left the village, after only five days of labor, we were 28 days ahead of the building schedule!

I arrived back in the United States with a piece of my heart missing and a feeling of fulfillment and inspiration that I cannot quite explain in words. I am thankful to my Senegalese host family, the BuildOn team, Circle of Sisterhood, my Panhellenic sisters, and of course Kappa Alpha Theta for giving me an experience that will shape the rest of my life.

Elizabeth Shevlin, Delta Phi/Clemson, is a senior and serves her chapter as chief executive officer.

Posted On: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 07:54 AM, by Peggy Kanterman
Peggy Kanterman
Recently, national media have publicized scandals in relation to Greek life. These scandals deserve to be brought to light because the Greek system—itself created to promote leadership qualities, support groups, and community service for those who choose to join—should not tolerate poor behavior. Unfortunately, the qualities that Greek society stands for do not get equal media time; good deeds do not have the same effect on ratings as do scandalous ones. At Chi/Syracuse, we strive to stay true to the inherently good qualities upon which the Greek system was founded.

As chief education officer of Chi Chapter, I aim to educate our members (and particularly our new members) on the importance of staying true to our Fraternity's principles and beliefs. When a crisis arises that affects members, we educate our chapter to use the support of our sisterhood to find a positive solution to the problem. At least once an academic year, the women of each member class join together to pinpoint the issues being felt by the sisters. As a group, we talk and work through problems that often arise in such a large chapter. Coming together as a chapter and discussing how sisters interact with one another strengthens the bonds of friendship and makes everyone a participant in the greater goal. We believe in full transparency, as honesty is the only way to acknowledge a crisis and begin to form a healthy resolution. In the end, we learn from the experience and come together to create a positive outcome, making our chapter stronger.

Diversity in our chapter is an aspect of Chi that we embrace, whether that be race, sexuality, physical disability, etc. We pride ourselves on being inclusive, welcoming each other's differences while being able to see core similarities within each of us. This beautiful balance represents the character of the members in Chi Chapter.

Challenging the perception of Greek life can be an uphill battle, but it's one worth pursuing. Chi Chapter has introduced me to bright, dedicated, and inspiring women leaders with whom I look forward to staying connected as they go on to make increasingly bigger differences in our world. We have leaders of community service groups, professional organizations, advocacy groups, scholarship organizations, and educational groups—all of whom vehemently counteract the negative perception of Greek life. As a chapter, we use these leaders to create our programming, foster progressive ideas, and give back to society through community service. We plan to continue making a positive difference in any and all ways we can and believe that our actions are the most effective way to challenge the negative perception of the Greek system.

Peggy Kanterman, Chi/Syracuse, is a senior and serves her chapter as chief education officer.

Posted On: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 08:32 AM, by Clare Russell
Clare Russell
This past June, I was fortunate enough to attend Kappa Alpha Theta's Emerging Leaders Institute. The experience was amazing, and something I would recommend to any Theta who is even thinking about applying. Before I began my journey to DePauw University in Greencastle. Ind. (the site of the institute), I was asked to take a survey that would tell me my top five leadership qualities. Of course, mine were like an apple that didn't fall far from the tree! These were qualities I have known I possessed since elementary school, particularly "individualistic," and this strength in particular has proven itself a challenge when trying to be a leader in high school and now in college. Sometimes, I could even view it as a weakness, but at the institute, I learned to embrace it in order to work with others so that my chapter's overall leadership could be effective. This is what I will have to do at my chapter, and this is what our four founders had to do for each other.

Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Bettie created this fraternity through times of trials and tribulations. As I was sitting in Meharry Hall learning about what our founders had to go through, I was struck with awe. DePauw was lucky at that time to have such powerful women in its midst, and "powerful" is a word that can still be used to describe all women who share our special bond. Leading women have to know how to choose between what is easy, and what is right. Leading women have to be courageous like Theta's founding members were. Being a courageous leader is to confront reality, encourage feedback, lead change, and have constructive conversations. Being courageous is to show genuine appreciation, give credit to others, make decisions, and move forward. Most importantly, it is holding not only others but also yourself accountable, even in the hardest of times. It is important to be courageous in leadership because one will gain respect for others, from others, and for oneself.

Being a leader is more than an individualistic effort. It is knowing how to ask for help, and having others complement and build on your strengths. Kappa Alpha Theta's Emerging Leaders Institute helped me to understand this concept. During the three-day experience, I learned more than simply how to become a better leader; I also learned how to become a better sister. I was surrounded by at least 50 other leading women, who are all amazing individuals in their own way. Most importantly, I got to know eight other women personally through their experiences—not only through Theta, but through life. We shared our experiences whether the experience was great, or whether it was a struggle, so that we could learn from one another. We received input on how to draw on different leadership styles in order to complement each other in different situations. It was wonderful being able to share and learn from these women, who truly inspire me. Being a leader is knowing how to be strong so that one may help another become even stronger.

Clare Russell, Pi/Albion, is a junior majoring in vocal music and communication studies, and serves her chapter as its chief administrative officer.

Posted On: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 08:20 AM, by Cassey Pennington
Alpha Lambda/ Washington members with the grand prize donation to Family Law CASA
On May 1, Alpha Lambda/Washington participated in glassbaby's "Light the Bridge" event. More than 1,200 glassybaby supporters carried White Light glassybabys across the I-90 bridge in celebration of its newest philanthropic endeavor, the glassybaby white light fund. With more than 30 charities represented at the inaugural event, Family Law CASA via Alpha Lambda Chapter brought the most volunteers, and won the $30,000 grand prize!

Here's a little background on glassybaby: It's a native Seattle business that sells unique, hand-blown candle holders. The company is centered around giving 10% from each sale directly to the glassybaby white light fund, that in turn provides financial and emotional assistance to those in need. Since 2001, glassybaby has donated more than $3 million to organizations dedicated to helping people, animals, and the environment heal.

Because the event took place at 4 a.m., we offered incentives to members who committed to volunteer. We gave each Theta attendee a "Kappa Alpha Theta Light the Bridge" long-sleeve t-shirt and free breakfast upon her return home. We also bought each member an electric tealight for her new glassybaby holder (members are not allowed to have candles in the Alpha Lambda facility). Each of these gifts was a small thank-you for their time and a morale-booster for the chapter as a whole.

It is hard to simply answer the question, "Why it's important for us to help Family Law CASA?" because each member has her own connection and own reason why. Our chapter learned that there are so many opportunities out there to help CASA and our community in general. This event has allowed us to break free of our usual routine and strive to do more. We have already planned several more events for the upcoming school year, and we plan to keep this momentum going. Alpha Lambda has now seen what it's capable of, and we plan to break all the barriers!

Cassey Pennington, Alpha Lambda/Washington, is the chapter's chief marketing officer.

Posted On: Monday, August 3, 2015 08:30 AM, by Pia Holtmeier
Pia, second on right, meeting Theta sisters.
I am a Theta at Epsilon Lambda/Dickinson, and moved to New York City for the summer for an internship. Because I didn't know anyone in the city, I decided to write a small post in the Kappa Alpha Theta LinkedIn group to see if any sisters from other chapters would like to meet up.

I received a lot of responses, and many sisters from chapters all over the country were excited to meet up! About a week after my original post, two fellow sisters and I met for dinner at a Thai restaurant, and another three weeks later, seven of us met for some shaved ice cream.

Since then, we have started our own Facebook group, have celebrated birthdays together, and gone to concerts in Central Park. I have been running with one in the morning and shopping with another one after work.

When I originally wrote the post on LinkedIn, I never thought that something like this was going to happen. I have met incredible sisters from all over the country, Europe, and Asia, and am reminded every time we meet or plan to go to movies that while we are from different chapters, we are all Thetas.

How have you made Theta connections? Share your comments below!

Pia Holtmeier, Epsilon Lambda/Dickinson, will be a senior this fall, and is majoring in international business and management.

Posted On: Monday, July 27, 2015 08:20 AM, by Sami Zoss
Samantha Zoss
Alpha Rho/
South Dakota
Leading women - that is what Thetas are across the board, and the members of Alpha Rho/South Dakota are no exception, as you'll soon learn.

My Theta journey is different than most. After two years of being non-affiliated, I finally decided that Kappa Alpha Theta was where my heart belonged.

My passion has always been in public service. Naturally, when I came to USD, the first organization I sought out was Student Government Association. After being elected to the senate as a representative of my respective school within my first year, I noticed Greek life was much more prominent in SGA (and in other organizations) than I had originally thought: not just Greek life, but Thetas in particular. The year I joined SGA, the business manager was a Theta, and the year before, Theta held the presidency spot. The more I looked into the history of the relationship between Theta and SGA, the closer the bond between the two came.

So when I began my climb to the executive team, I also decided to pledge Kappa Alpha Theta. In March of that year, I was selected to serve as the first external communications manager on the SGA executive team. I could not have been more thrilled to take on a leadership role in SGA with a house full of supportive sisters behind me. Fast-forward to January 2015, when I decided to test the idea of "Leading Women" and run for president. The amount of support I received from my Theta sisters was overwhelming.

After months of hard work, late-night crisis management sessions, and lots of coffee breaks (more coffee than breaks), I am proud to say the students of USD elected me as their 2015-2016 president. I am so humbled and honored to show the world what being a leading woman really is. The legacy that has been left by Thetas before me is one that will be hard to live up to, but I'm always up for the challenge.

Samantha Zoss, Alpha Rho/South Dakota, will be a senior in the fall. She is the university's Student Government Association president.

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