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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, March 23, 2015 08:30 AM, by Katie Busby
Katie Busby
Epsilon Zeta/
During our college experience, we encounter individuals who leave an indelible mark on our lives. These individuals include our roommates, friends, Thetas, classmates, and our faculty.

If you are an alumna, then you probably have fond memories of your favorite professor. This professor probably didn't give an "easy A," but that wasn't why you took the class. He/she probably challenged you to accomplish more than you thought was possible while demonstrating a passion for knowledge and a commitment to students. Faculty members on campuses across the United States and Canada continue to instill knowledge while inspiring, engaging, and mentoring today's Theta collegians.

Commitment to higher education and scholarship as demonstrated by these faculty members is also a cornerstone of Kappa Alpha Theta, and is a priority through the Plan of Aspirations. This shared commitment was the impetus to establish the Kappa Alpha Theta Outstanding Faculty Award.

In 2015, the fourth year of this hallmark program, I have the privilege of serving on the award selection committee. Last year, we received more than 100 nominations submitted by each Theta college chapter, and were tasked with selecting ten recipients. The five men and five women who comprise the 2014 Outstanding Faculty list each make significant and unique contributions to their students' lives by inspiring them inside the classroom as well as helping them reach their goals outside of the classroom.

Each college chapter is strongly encouraged to submit its nominated faculty member via the Officer Portal; the deadline for applications is Friday, April 10. Special thanks to Jill Andersen, Zeta Theta/Cal Polytechnic State, and Erin Howle, Delta Kappa/Louisiana State, for serving on the Outstanding Faculty Award selection committee.

Who is making a difference in your life? Which faculty member do you remember the most from your college days? Which faculty member(s) inspired you to reach your aspirations?

Katie Busby, PhD, Epsilon Zeta/Mississippi, served as a judge on the Outstanding Faculty Award selection committee, and is a former Fraternity president.

Posted On: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 08:30 AM, by Liz Appel Rinck
Winter 2015 issue
One of the most pleasing aspects of serving as editor of the Theta magazine is the chance to meet so many accomplished members—even if it is only virtually—and sharing their stories with you. The Winter 2015 issue offers an abundance of amazing Thetas, including Carrie Hammer, who has won praise for her fashion shows featuring role models rather than fashion models, and Lindsey Pitts Croop, a ballerina with the prestigious Dance Theatre of Harlem.

I am pleased that this issue also includes a number of notable "friends of Theta," including Michael Piraino, CEO of National CASA, and ten outstanding faculty members as nominated by our college chapters across the continent. This is the third year that the Fraternity has honored exceptional faculty on campuses with Theta chapters. The honorees for the 2013-14 academic year teach in fields ranging from STEM to literature to business. In addition, the institutions in which they teach range from public to private, from research-based to liberal arts-based. They were chosen from more than 110 nominations by Theta chapters who believe their professors personify Theta's aspirations inside and outside of the classroom.

We hope you'll be inspired by the women (and men!) in the latest issue of the Theta magazine.

Liz Appel Rinck, Gamma/Butler, is the director of communications for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Friday, March 13, 2015 05:30 AM, by Laura Ware Doerre
Laura Doerre
Fraternity president
Recent news coverage of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma has revived some unfavorable stereotypes regarding Greek culture and raised pointed questions about the value of the fraternity system on college campuses. As members of the first Greek-letter fraternity for women, we are well aware of the worth of our sisterhood in Kappa Alpha Theta. Yet incidents such as those on the Oklahoma campus offer us an opportunity to examine our attitudes and actions and to recommit ourselves to living the words of our ritual, not simply saying them.

As Thetas, we are proud of our inclusive membership and our non-discriminatory recruitment policies. As Thetas, we are dedicated to social, intellectual, and moral growth, and we hold each other accountable for offensive language and behavior. As Thetas, we must be thoughtful in our conduct and speech, not because there may be a camera nearby but because we espouse the ideals of noble womanhood, which include treating everyone with respect and dignity.

Everything we say and do is not only a reflection of who we are individually but who we are as Thetas. I am deeply honored to serve Kappa Alpha Theta as president, and I very rarely am given reason to be anything but immensely proud of the accomplishments and contributions of each of our college and alumnae members. In this, the 145th year since our founding, let us continue to take every opportunity to lead one another to personal excellence, to model behavior that reflects the principles of our Fraternity.

Laura Doerre, Delta Xi/North Carolina, is the president of Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 08:00 AM, by Lisa Bagay Hawrot
Lisa Bagay Hawrot
Epsilon Omega/
Washington & Jefferson
The main reason I became involved with Theta after graduation was because of my CASA involvement as an undergraduate with my Theta chapter. During my time at Washington & Jefferson College, our Epsilon Omega chapter was active with CASA in raising money during Carnival Weekend for our volleyball tournament.

Since July 2010, when our local CASA organization—CASA for Children, Inc.—came into being, I have served as a member of the board of directors (including past president and secretary, and current treasurer). Our CASA organization proudly serves children in Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler counties in West Virginia.

It is extremely rewarding for me to serve on the CASA board. CASA works to serve the best interest of children during some of the most difficult times in their lives. Through my family law practice, I've unfortunately seen first-hand some devastating cases of abuse and neglect. CASA works to ensure that these children are in a safe and loving environment (whether that means reunification with their families or not), and if reunification is not possible, to assist them in achieving permanency in a forever home.

In 2014, our CASA for Children program provided advocacy for more than 270 children, helping 115 achieve permanency, through the help of 34 volunteer advocates and three staff members. Our program spearheads the West Virginia statewide fostering futures initiative serving youth ages 14-21. We have trained more than 100 volunteers around the state, and currently 55 youth have the benefit of a specially trained CASA volunteer to help them gain the skills necessary for independence.

Although we've had various fundraisers over the years, in 2014, we had our first annual Superhero 5K, which was a great success! Our second annual Superhero 5K is scheduled for April 18.

I'm very proud and privileged to work with our executive director, Susan Harrison, the other board members, and all the wonderful volunteers. Abuse and neglect cases can be devastating for a child, but I'm proud to say that through CASA we can give those children a voice.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or want to learn more about your local CASA organization, visit the National CASA website.

Lisa Bagay Hawrot, Epsilon Omega/Washington & Jefferson, is an attorney specializing in complex domestic relations and abuse and neglect law in Wheeling, W.V.

Posted On: Monday, March 9, 2015 08:20 AM, by Lynne McCaul Miller
Lots of people interchange the terms "sad" and "depressed." But feeling sad or having the blues is different than suffering from depression. Of course, feeling sad about many different things in life is entirely normal. Most people are sad when they experience a loss or disappointment.

However, when the sadness becomes a feeling you have most of the day, it can be a symptom of something more. Intense sadness that stays with you for two weeks or more can also be an indication that you might be suffering from depression. Other symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Trouble concentrating

The good news is that depression is a treatable condition. A free and quick anonymous screening can identify if your symptoms may be consistent with depression. You can find it on the Sisters Supporting Sisters page.

Screening for Mental Health, Inc., Theta's wellness partner, contributed material for this blog post.

Posted On: Wednesday, March 4, 2015 08:00 AM, by Amy Hayner Kates
Amy Hayner Kates
Fraternity Ritualist
Since I graduated from college, I have been given the great gift of perspective that I did not have as a young person. The layers of life add color and beauty to each experience and moment.

As a former Fraternity president and current Fraternity ritualist, I have had the privilege of speaking the words in our ritual services quite a few times. With each experience, I feel the meaning of our ritual more deeply, adding more substance to these layers of my life. Now that I'm older and have spoken to countless Thetas, I have found others who feel the same way.

But what about our ritual is relevant beyond the memories we've made in a ritual setting? How does our ritual cross that barrier from words to actions that further develop us as members of Kappa Alpha Theta?

  1. Train your mind and soul. I realized that through our ritual, Theta gave me the courage to be the leading woman I emulated. An all-women's environment can provide a supportive place to learn, experiment, succeed, and sometimes fail. Theta gave me that opportunity, and trained me to be a leader, giving me skills that I use every day at work and at home.

    I challenge you to connect what you learn to who you are as a person. Be worthy of someone's emulation: "If life brings you in contact with all sorts of people, rejoice rather than repine, for if you have in you the elements of leadership and true nobility of character, they will shine forth and lead you to the performance of something worthy, the trained mind and soul." (Kate Stevens, Psi/Wisconsin, 1901).

  2. Earnestly and actively seek ways to serve. What if every Theta made our ritual such a part of her life that she "cultivated [this] power of giving [by] encouraging the honest performance of duty, and not just because of the high demands of Theta or our institutions?" (as suggested by Kate Stevens). What if her service not only benefited her chapter, but each person with whom she comes in contact?

    I have witnessed the power of our organization and the difference we make. I am proud of and motivated by my Theta sisters to be a community servant. Theta brought me to the amazing work of CASA, which I support financially through Theta Foundation and with my time. It is a reward that has made my everyday life more fulfilling.

  3. Establish your truth. My integrity became more solid when I made my vows to Theta. I was fortunate that my parents helped instill values during my childhood. But it was the group sharing of ideals that reinforced the foundation and made me more self-assured in my own personal ethics. Seeing the impact that individuals have on those who surround them has made me more caring and compassionate. Theta helped shape my ability to confront and support individuals and groups based on these values. Theta put her belief in my integrity, and I in hers. Do you believe in you? Theta does.

  4. Demonstrate the inspiration attained by being a member of our diverse organization. I aspire to do more because I am a Theta. Big or small, nothing gives me greater joy than to feel like I've made a positive impact in the life of another person. Theta ritual has taught me that I can turn any situation into a better one by being that inspiration. When I started to look at life through the lens of aspiration, things began to bloom like never before.

    Every day we make decisions, and, as recent Ohio Wesleyan graduate Rachel Vinciguerra, Gamma deuteron, says, "Our ritual acknowledges that things are not always easy. Step back and realize that all we need is faith in one another and in ourselves, hope that we're doing something positive, and the love it takes to be there for one another through this journey." Ask yourself: What would the outcome be if I made each decision based on the woman I aspire to be?

  5. Further a spirit of unity within a group. Friendship takes on new meaning once you see the values described in our ritual, supported by those closest to you. As an organization, our first goal is friendship, which is an awesome standard. What if every organization started with friendship, and every action was rooted in that principle? Wouldn't the world be a better place? My Theta sisters know what true friendship means: peaks and valleys, celebrations and funerals. Throughout my life, Theta love has and will continue to enfold me.

I invite you to support each other in remaining loyal to the commitments we've made. Review our ritual, attend a service, and/or communicate with local college and alumnae chapters in your area for other opportunities. Do this not just during National Ritual Celebration Week, but whenever you need guidance. Come back to the ritual, for her sisterly hand will always be waiting to clasp yours.

Amy Hayner Kates, Alpha Phi/Tulane, is the ritualist for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, and is a former Fraternity president. She is a member of the New Orleans Alumnae Chapter.

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