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Collegians Blog

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.

Posted On: Monday, September 2, 2013 08:57 AM, by Emily Callen
L-R: Victoria Rosales, Epsilon Sigma/UC Irvine, and Emily
I could talk endlessly about my experience in New Orleans on the Theta Service Trip in June 2013. I could give hours of explanation in an attempt to show just how great of an impact it had on me. However, the fact that each and every day since coming home I have thought about the trip speaks volumes of the work that was done, the discussions that were had, and the women that surrounded me that week.

I should have known that spending a week with 18 other Theta collegians and three incredible facilitators would make for some eye-opening experiences, but I really had no clue how much I would grow over the course of the week. My perspective has been forever changed. I now have a fuller, more complete sense of what it means to be a servant leader, and more importantly, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. Being a Theta comes with a responsibility that one must carry with her throughout her life. It is a responsibility not only for one's self and one's own actions, but to her sisters, her community, and to the world. This responsibility is something that my sisters on the trip remind me of every day, and their actions are a beautiful example of how to live with this responsibility and carry it proudly.

Every day I am reminded of some aspect of the trip, whether it is a funny joke we shared or an enlightening opinion that was given during our daily reflections. I know I will be forever linked to the inspiring women I met on the Theta Service Trip, and that is such an incredible feeling. I am extremely grateful to the Fraternity for providing me with such a great opportunity to discover so much more about myself and about Kappa Alpha Theta. Opportunities like this not only strengthen my love for and commitment to Theta, but also serve as an example of just how meaningful this Fraternity and its values are, and the ability it has to change one's life for the better.

Emily Callen is a member of Beta Kappa Chapter and is a sophomore at Drake University.

Posted On: Monday, August 26, 2013 09:03 AM, by Madison Love
Madison at NBC headquarters in New York
I've read that one of the keys to life success is to always take others to the top with you, and it recently seems as if that advice was ripped from one of my Theta sister's sacred pages. In fact, were it not for my friend Maura Murphy's immeasurable generosity and encouragement, I never would have been considered for the highly coveted intern position at the prestigious and inimitable television network, NBC.

I have had literary aspirations since the age of seven. I loved to tell stories, and before I understood how to write them, I used crayons to draw them. As I got older, when all my friends were scurrying around the soccer field at school, I was in self-sequestered seclusion savoring some story or inscribing one that I wrote. Writing was more than a hobby; rather, it was a vehicle that transported me to a place of endless possibilities where I could create characters and dialogue that delivered my deepest thoughts. Writing seems to let me have a voice that's less modest than I normally speak. It allows me to record my history and translate musings from my imagination to the readers. I strive for that moment of magic where I can take a blank page and transform it into a piece of writing that is enlightening and worthy of reflection. As I have grown, so too, have I expanded my area of interests to include the telling of true life stories succinctly, with an economy of words, and in adherence to the strictest standards of journalistic impartiality and non-partisanship.

When I joined Theta, I met several sisters who were considering a career in journalism and communications. We bonded over our passion for the performing arts, love of literature, and interest in the entertainment industry. They were so supportive when I was auditioning to be an on-air sports anchor for UConn and celebrated my success after I was chosen. Encouragement and compassion are some of the core components and cornerstones of Theta, which is based upon the ideals of faithful friendship and the furtherance of good fellowship. This special group of girls serves as my second family, and it was through my Gamma Zeta sister Maura's enthusiasm that we joined several clubs and organizations that celebrated careers in communications and every aspect of today's rapidly changing media landscape. We engaged with other like-minded peers, in a remarkable range of contemporary subjects, reaching beyond the confines of the classroom to begin to understand society's diverse cultural foundation and the myriad forms of the new media's information technologies.

It was also Maura who invited me along with the UConn Communications Society to watch a taping of a NBC daytime talk-show and suggested I seek out the production manager on the set to see if perhaps they were seeking new interns for the #1 rated syndicated daytime talk-show, The Maury Show, and the second season of The Trisha Goddard Show. I was extremely nervous to introduce myself to her but after Maura's pep talk, I went over with confidence. The production manager happily gave me her card and I immediately sent her my resume. After a fairly rigorous interview process, I was offered this prized position that has added another important punctuation to my portfolio and resume.

Out of 10,000 applicants, I was one of 300 in the nation to obtain an internship with NBC. As a production intern, I have made invaluable connections and am considered one of the creative crew members that facilitate every facet of the show. I screen hundreds of daily phone calls and sift through potential guests who are interested in being featured. When it is production day, I work one-on-one with the producers, their associates, production assistants, and director to ensure the seamless execution on tape day. I also work directly with the guests from the moment they step onto set, directing them to hair and makeup to wardrobe to the post-production duties. I help out in the wardrobe department, organizing apparel and selecting outfits for the guests to wear on tape day. In addition, I work at Alive at 5, a weekly outdoor concert in Stamford, CT where we select audience members. From my fellow interns to the executives, I've bonded with many people who have been at NBC for some time and are incredible mentors and role models.

I truly could not have landed this internship without the encouragement and constant support from Maura and all of my Theta sisters. I am so grateful for this truly transformative experience that has enhanced the trajectory of my future entertainment career, and I cannot wait to see how Theta will once again, play a major role in my future endeavors.

Madison Love is a member of Gamma Zeta Chapter and is a junior at the University of Connecticut.

Posted On: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 02:55 PM, by Ashley Andrew
Ashley Andrew, Chi/Syracuse, performing as the Orange Girl
For the past four years, I was the Orange Girl at Syracuse University: the name designated to the feature baton twirler position with the marching band. I have been a baton twirler since the age of 3, so continuing twirling at the collegiate level was always a goal of mine. After arriving at Syracuse, I heard endless stories from alumni and previous Orange Girls about Dottie Grover, who was the feature twirler in the early 1950s (she was in the class of 1953). She was not only idolized on the Syracuse campus for her starring role performing at football games, but she is also considered a legend in the baton twirling world for all of her accomplishments.

Dottie became a Chi Theta her freshman year at SU, and lived at the chapter facility for three years. During her freshman year, she was chosen as the Sigma Chi Sweetheart, and went on to win the International Sweetheart of Sigma Chi award. Her memoir includes a wide variety of experiences and performances, including traveling throughout Europe with the Harlem Globetrotters, twirling at SU basketball games, and even competing in national waterskiing competitions. I lived in the chapter facility this year, and found several scrapbooks that were filled almost entirely with Dottie's accomplishments. Read more about her in The Daily Orange, SU's student newspaper.

During my sophomore year, Chi's Permanent Alumnae Secretary Ginnie Allen Russo found out that I was the Orange Girl, and informed me that Dottie was as well. Discovering this about a woman I had admired for so long was an amazing feeling!

I know of a handful of Thetas from other chapters who were also the feature twirlers at their respective universities:

  • My sister, Erica Andrew, Alpha Phi/Tulane

  • DaNae Couch, Epsilon Epsilon/Baylor. She is also the current Miss Texas!

  • Aly Akers, Beta Zeta/Oklahoma State

  • Krissy Zalud, Alpha Rho/South Dakota


If you know of any more baton twirlers, or other Theta connection stories, let us know in the Comments section below!

Ashley Andrew, Chi/Syracuse, graduated with a degree in communication sciences and disorders, and begins her doctorate work in audiology at Northeastern University this fall. She volunteers as the scholarship advisor for Zeta Mu/MIT.


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