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Finding Joy in Theta by Passing It On
Posted On: Wednesday, February 26 09:00 AM, by Tory Stires
I’ve had a fairly atypical college experience. This is the longest stretch of consecutive semesters (three!) that I’ve been on one campus between transferring and studying abroad. When I look back on the past few years–some of the best of my life–and all of the madness, and fun, and good days and bad days and friends and romances, classes, crazy nights, interesting mornings, tests, new acquaintances…, there is one string that holds everything together, and that’s Theta.When I arrived at UCLA my first week as a freshman, I was the bright-eyed kid from Washington, D.C. with the khaki shorts and penny loafers. I felt like I didn’t fit, or I stood out, or some combination of the two. I didn’t know how big Greek life was at UCLA, but when all of the friends I had made during orientation announced that recruitment started the first week of school and EVERYONE was doing it, I had this gut feeling that I should, too. I went with my last-minute, handwritten nametag, lined up, smiled, and walked into 15 houses. I was still skeptical of the process and thought sororities would be either boring, or superficial, or frivolous. I can’t even describe how quickly and naturally Theta changed my mind. After the preference round, I was so certain I belonged in Theta that if I got any other bid, I swore I would turn it down.
Sometimes you get lucky and intuition guides you well. I had never “belonged” anywhere like I belonged to that chapter. I loved every member, I loved having lunch and dinner at the house, and I loved walking around campus with my letters on. It was such a point of pride to be a Theta. Theta not only gave me love and support within the chapter, but it also gave me the roots to ground myself at UCLA, on a new coast, and embrace it and enjoy every moment.
I had to transfer for reasons outside of myself and beyond my control. When the acceptance notice came from Penn, leaving UCLA became so definite, and it was heartbreaking for me. I knew I wouldn’t be back to experience college with all the people I had grown to love. Leaving that school was like prying myself away finger by finger. I didn’t want to see the year end, and I didn’t want to say goodbye to any of my sisters in Theta, or my campus, or Los Angeles. Not only did the Thetas put aside their own anger at me for having to leave, but they helped me through it. They threw me going-away parties, they told me it was for the best, they stayed in touch after I left, and they still do to this day.
Transferring to Penn might have been tough. It might have been a free fall but it wasn’t, because I had this chapter to catch me. My sophomore year, I lived in the smallest room in this house. I was so grateful for it. Somehow, I already had a place at this school, and I had never before set foot on campus.
My luck literally astounds me. I know it doesn’t always happen this way. I left a chapter of amazing, intelligent, beautiful, kind women, and I thought it was an irreplaceable feeling to be a part of that. UCLA Theta will always be so special to me, but I found the same kind of women here. A friend recently asked me if I would have been a Theta if I had started out at Penn. The answer is: Absolutely. The women in this chapter continue to inspire me and surprise me, and make me proud that I rank among them. It’s been such a joy–and so much fun–to be a member of this chapter and also an honor to lead as chief executive officer.
All Thetas, from coast to coast, say the joy in Theta is passing it on. I hope that you too have that feeling in the pit of your stomach. The Theta do-or-die that I had waiting outside of a giant white stucco house on Hilgard Avenue in Los Angeles. The recognition in yourself that you are a Theta, and somehow you always have been, but you didn’t realize it until now. It is such a rewarding, uplifting, confidence-inspiring feeling to be a member of this fraternity.
Tory Stires, Beta Eta/Pennsylvania, recently completed her term as chief executive officer and is graduating this spring.
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