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Posted On: Monday, March 21, 2016 07:58 AM, by Kate Bentsen
Alpha Eta members during the dance marathon.
Last September, Vanderbilt University Dance Marathon set a goal to raise $200,000 for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt by February 20, 2016. Following our 13.1 hour-long event on February 20, we announced the total: $230,099.16!

Not only did VUDM make Vanderbilt University history by raising more money than any other student-led philanthropic organization, but we engaged the entire country in saving kids' lives. We will be able to fund a research fellow in the NICU and contribute to the hospital's "Growing to New Heights" campaign.

This accomplishment would not have been possible without the efforts of leading women from Alpha Eta Chapter. As a chapter, we raised more than $59,000 of the grand total mentioned above, which ended up being 25% of the total amount fundraised. Some key points to our success:

  • Madison Kaminski served on the executive board as Director of Sponsorship, and increased our corporate sponsorship and silent auction totals by 1000% from last year.

  • Nicole Paradis reached out to her family's foundation, The Chappell Culpeper Family Foundation, and donated $20,000 in honor of Theta.

  • Sixty Alpha Eta chapter members actively participated in fundraising, with ten members raising more than $1,000 each!


With even more members dedicating hundreds of hours of their time on committees, Alpha Eta was incredibly present and involved in Vanderbilt's record-breaking event this year.

How has your chapter worked this year to support philanthropic efforts on campus and in your community? Share with us in the comments section below!

Kate Bentsen, Alpha Eta/Vanderbilt, is the chapter's service & philanthropy director.

Posted On: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 08:30 AM, by Kaitlin White
Kaitlin, third from right, at her swearing-in ceremony.

One of the main reasons I chose to join a Greek organization on campus was my interest in philanthropy and my desire to work as part of a large group to help others. As a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, I have had the pleasure of raising money and awareness for Court Appointed Special Advocates. This past summer, I was able to take my involvement one step further, and instead of giving money, I was able to give my time as a volunteer and summer intern.


The main goal of CASA is to find children a safe and permanent home as quickly as possible. As an advocate, I completed 35 hours of training, which served as a basic crash course in different topics such as child development, types of child abuse, psychological effects of abuse, and legal ramifications regarding child abuse and neglect. Normally, after a swearing-in ceremony, each CASA is appointed to one case and remains on that case for its duration. However, because I was only a summer intern and didn't have the time to commit to taking on a case of my own, I was given the opportunity to fill in on a variety of cases. I was able to meet tons of kids, go to court to speak on their behalf, and make recommendations to a judge based on what I thought was in their best interest.


As a CASA advocate, I was able to learn about some the systemic problems that many parents and children face such as frustrations with foster care, juvenile detention injustices, lack of educational advocacy, and lack of access to health care including mental health treatments. I was also able to build relationships with some of the smartest and strongest children I have ever encountered. Working as a nanny, I have met a lot of kids, most of who are incredibly privileged. However, getting to spend time with kids who are facing some of the hardest adversities an individual can face was truly an eye­opening and heart­wrenching experience, but one that I hope to continue exploring on my path to becoming a clinical child psychologist.

Kaitlin White, Delta Iota/Puget Sound, will graduate this spring with a degree in psychology.

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
Chi/Syracuse
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
Pi/Albion
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.


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