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Collegians Blog

Posted On: Monday, August 25, 2014 09:30 AM, by Ellen Yin
Ironbrawl is the chapter's signature philanthropy event.
What many part of Oregon State University's Greek life call "the best week of the year," Beta Epsilon's annual philanthropy proved to be another successful week of fundraising, fun, and football—with the added accomplishment of a record-breaking year for the chapter. The ladies of Beta Epsilon raised more than $23,700 for CASA, in large part through the generous donations of alumnae they reached out to in donation letters.

The three-day event in late April commenced with a Zumba class taught by their own sister, past chapter chief executive officer and now current Panhellenic president, Sarah McGregor. McGregor, a certified instructor who regularly teaches classes at OSU's recreation center, enthusiastically led 250 people in a packed gym through an hour of energetic dancing. The second day began with a Community Day of Service in collaboration with Parks & Recreation, where more than 100 Greek members and other students volunteered their time. Even the rain couldn't put a damper on the smiles of all who came out to help. Later that evening, more than 200 community members ran through OSU's beautiful campus for the Run to Our Casa 5K. Some Thetas chose to participate in the 5K, while the rest lined the streets with signs to point the way and encourage the runners.

The philanthropy culminated on Friday with Ironbrawl, the highly anticipated flag football tournament. The Student Legacy Park was taken over by teams donned in Theta gear, with participation from all 11 Panhellenic sororities, 20 fraternities, and other co-ops and groups on campus. Many groups created multiple teams, and there were lots of spectators who came to watch their favorite team, with many outside of the Greek community in the audience. The widespread support from diverse campus groups made the event that much more inclusive, competitive, and fun. The leadership of Service and Philanthropy Director Katie Mannion, Chief Marketing Officer Ashley Morris, and the passion and hard work of all the sisters in Theta made the three-day production possible.

In addition to the money raised from Ironbrawl, the unique success of this year can also be attributed to apparel sales, check-in donation jars, restaurant nights, and the incredible support of Theta alumnae. As articulated by Chief Operating Officer Catie Ellis and what all the sisters would undoubtedly echo, "To think that we can help train more CASA volunteers with the money we have raised is exciting and extremely heartwarming."

Ellen Yin, Beta Epsilon/Oregon State, serves her chapter as the communications director.

Posted On: Monday, August 18, 2014 08:30 AM, by Kelsey Yelich
Kelsey (fourth on the right) and the Sassy Seven, visiting Theta headquarters during ELI (click to enlarge).
Merriam-Webster lists the definition of leadership as "a position of a group, organization, etc." Many different definitions of leadership were given to the 64 participants of Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) upon our arrival on July 10. But we were then asked to come up with our own definition of leadership. Little did we know that throughout the course of our weekend at Butler University, these definitions would change drastically.

While many may think that leaders only fit into one specific mold, this idea could not be more wrong. ELI is designed to showcase different models of leadership and how these models can be used in order to not only improve our Theta chapters but the world.

When I first arrived in Indy with my carry-on in hand, I had no idea what to expect. Being the only participant from my chapter, I knew I was going to have to play to my strengths in order to get the most out of my experience. During ELI, I was surrounded with nothing but love and support. It was amazing to know that I was in a room with 64 other Thetas who were here for the same reason: to learn how to become a better role model and leader in today's ever-changing society.

The sessions dove into the different topics including StrengthsQuest, the Relational Leadership Model, Ethical Leadership, Courageous Leadership, and how to go about leading change.

The leaders of the institute, Melissa Shaub and Maggie Harris, took these topics and helped us understand how to apply them to our lives as college women. Whether it involves issues within our chapters or on campus, they used real-world examples in order to showcase how the different types of leadership can really make a difference.

The time spent with my small group had the most impact on me. Known as the "Sassy Seven," our group consisted of members from around the country and even Canada! My group leader, Amanda Gaglio, encouraged us to go outside of our "boxes." For me, this meant speaking up during large group sessions and not being afraid to put myself out there. I felt so encouraged by my small group, and they made the whole experience that much better. It was amazing to know that not only are we friends, but we are sisters, and we are there because we wanted to become the best leaders possible. (Bettie Locke has a quote that says, "Just think, if it grows and multiplies, it may someday bring together into sisterly relationship women from all parts of the country who have never seen each other before, who are all friends, because of Theta.")

Emerging Leaders Institute is so much more than sitting and learning about leadership. It's about pushing yourself in order to become a leader in today's modern world. I highly encourage any Theta collegian to apply for this truly life-changing experience and learn what it means to be a leading woman.

Kelsey Yelich, Eta Tau, is a sophomore at the University of Tampa.

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.


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