It's fall, and while many of us think of pumpkins and Halloween, I think of elections! National Voter Registration Day is tomorrow, September 27, and is sponsored by the National Association of Secretaries of State. As Theta's director of government relations, I strongly encourage each of my U.S. Theta sisters to participate in the process. If you are not a registered voter, it's simple. For many states, the deadline for registering to vote is October 11, which is 30 days out from the election.
Check with your secretary of state or visit www.vote411.org. Once you enter your address on this site, you can see the candidates for your precinct, find your polling place, and even register to vote using the online voter registration tool!
The opportunity for women to vote was granted in 1920 (thanks to the 19th Amendment) but 18-year-olds had to wait until July 1971 for the 26th Amendment to be ratified. When Theta celebrated our centennial in 1970, many collegians couldn't vote. With our sesquicentennial coming in 2020, collegians are a big part of campaign efforts.
So exercise your right and participate. If you can't get to the polls, most states offer alternatives such as absentee ballots (you must apply for one) and early in-person voting at your county's board of elections.
If you want to get more involved, county boards of elections are often looking for poll workers. While it makes for a long day, it is exciting to see the procedures in action. I have served in primary and general elections and found it very rewarding.
So go register and VOTE!
Kappa Alpha Theta has a long tradition of leading the way for women, whether it's through higher education, advocating for foster children through CASA, or supporting and encouraging each other as we grow as individuals. Theta is dedicated to lifetime engagement - we want to meet our sisters where they are in life with meaningful, innovative ways that build and grow those bonds. One of the ways we are doing that is through travel.
We invite alumnae to join us to see what the world has to offer! Together, we experience different cultures, enjoy new cuisine, encounter history, and enrich each other's lives through friendships that transcend borders. We would love to have you join us in 2017 as we set out to explore destinations that are as unique as they are memorable.
Imagine snorkeling through the turquoise waters off the coast of Costa Rica and then cruising through the Panama Canal during the daytime, coming to grips with one of the 20th century's greatest achievements. Soak up the splendor of windmills in seas of vibrantly colored tulips between Amsterdam and Brussels while practicing newly-learned Dutch phrases. Connect with the timeless beauty of Japan, visiting ancient castles, shrines, temples, and gardens. Immerse yourself in the sites, tastes, and sounds of Tuscany while receiving a world-class education on one of the world's most storied countries. Find yourself in awe of the natural wonders tucked away in the Canadian Rockies, such as Lake Louise and Jasper National Park.
We hope you will take advantage of these unique opportunities, not only because travel adventures turn us into great storytellers, but also because when you chose Theta, you chose a sisterhood dedicated to growing each member throughout her life.
To learn more about our travel program, visit the Theta Traveler page.
Have you ever stopped to think about how much time, energy and love Theta advisors invest in collegians?
My college chapter officer experience in Theta developed me as a leader probably more so than any other experience in my life*. I say that because, before that experience, I really didn't consider myself a leader at all. Knowing that my fellow chapter members, and most importantly, my advisor, believed in me, invested in me, and held me accountable, entirely changed the way I perceived and conducted myself. It also made me want to give back to Theta, so that I could empower women to discover this strength in themselves.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear some similar stories from an amazing group of young Thetas: our ELCs.
Each summer, ELCs come to Fraternity headquarters to participate in training with Fraternity staff and volunteers. When the alumnae engagement department met with the ELCs, the first thing we asked them was, "What Theta has most influenced or impacted your Theta experience?"
The responses were touching - from Grand Council members and advisory board chairmen to big (Theta) sisters and big (biological) sisters. Many of our ELCs couldn't pick just one!
One response did strike a chord. ELC Meghan Finke, Gamma deuteron/Ohio Wesleyan, who had been the chief executive officer and chief recruiting officer at her chapter, said that her ABC, Bev Epps, had influenced her the most. She said:
"I have always looked up to her so much; she makes each member feel welcome and valued. What I love most about Bev is that anyone who works with her can see how much she cares about Gamma deuteron and each of our members. Her warm and sunny presence lights up the house."
Ironically enough, I had been in touch with Bev just that day, and when I got back to my desk, I had to share Meghan's glowing remarks. Bev replied right back to me:
"Meghan is an amazing young woman. Theta is blessed to have her as a sister and ELC and I am blessed to have had her in my chapter, to know her and to call her not only my sister but my friend. I receive far more from the relationships I have with the collegians than I give. It is truly an honor for me to serve them and to know my service is appreciated means more than you know!"
As I sat with Meghan and the rest of the ELCs, I began to wonder if, without the Thetas who guided and supported them, they would be sitting in front of me at all.
So often when we ask advisors why they do what they do, we get two answers: to mentor collegians and to repay the Fraternity for what it has done for them. Chances are, Bev too had a Theta invest in her. And I know that throughout her life, Meghan will pay it forward in the same way.
How about you? Did you have an advisor or mentor who inspired you to give back to Theta in a special way? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
*You certainly don't have to be a college chapter officer to be a chapter leader!
Many chapters are currently recruiting new leading women to join Kappa Alpha Theta. The day a new member accepts her bid and takes her pledge to join Kappa Alpha Theta, we as initiated members have the responsibility to protect the well-being of our members, promote a high standard of excellence in all aspects of Fraternity life, and be a leader in the fraternity/sorority community. As reflected in our mission statement, we have promised to nurture each member throughout her college and alumnae experience and offer a lifelong opportunity for social, intellectual, and moral growth as our members meet the higher and broader demands of mature life. In accordance with these goals, Kappa Alpha Theta does not tolerate any acts that may be constituted as hazing.
The new member process sets the stage for creating a positive experience for each incoming young woman. Officers, advisors, and mentors provide an official introduction to what Theta is all about, and this first impression will last a lifetime. New member programs are designed to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive community. Hazing prevention is reinforced through chapter and campus educational programs, encouraging open and honest conversations on how each group, campus, and the greater fraternity/sorority community can cultivate an atmosphere where everyone feels included, safe, and welcomed.
When we educate our members to identify all forms of hazing, even if it is not part of their chapter experience, we empower them with the knowledge of what hazing is, what it looks like, and how to respond if members ever found themselves in a compromising position (i.e., a bystander to hazing, or partaking in another team/organization's hazing practices). With this knowledge, we hope our members would not participate in activities that are seen as campus traditions (e.g., serenades) as they are forms of hazing and counter our ability to foster an inclusive community.
An additional component of hazing prevention education includes providing resources and outlets for members to find professional support. In 2007, Kappa Alpha Theta united with other international fraternities and sororities to found the Greek Anti-Hazing Hotline, available to anyone who thinks they or someone they know have been or may become victims of hazing: 1-888-NOT HAZE (1-888-668-4293).
By continuing to educate and provide resources regarding hazing prevention to our college and alumnae members, we can continue to build on Kappa Alpha Theta's foundation that aims to value each member and encourages us all to live out our values and mission statement.
Help us spread the message that Theta is an organization that strives to ensure every member feels included, safe, and welcome. The #40 Answers to Common Excuses for Hazing campaign is currently underway, leading up to National Hazing Prevention Week Sept. 19-23. Follow along on social media during using the hashtags #40Answers and #LeadingWomenDontHaze.
The start of the new school year is, of course, an exciting time for Theta collegians, but this year, our advisors seem more eager than ever to get back to campus, see the undergraduates, and get started on chapter goals.
This summer, Theta held its 72
But beyond the motivation that Convention brings, an even bigger driver is that these alumnae genuinely care for and love the collegians they serve and they want to see them, and the chapter, grow and succeed. It truly is why they do what they do, and in fact, they downright missed you. A few comments straight from advisors themselves:
"I am very excited for the collegians to come back! I look forward to seeing their refreshed motivation heading into a busy fall. The women come back from summer with new ideas, and it is going to be fun to see how those plans fit into the chapter."
-Erin Smith, Epsilon Zeta/Mississippi ABC
"I am so proud of the progress that our officers and all of the members of Theta Kappa/Louisville have made (last semester) and am very much looking forward to what this semester will bring!"
-Nicole Eovino, Theta Kappa/Louisville
"I am so excited for the Gammas to be back! Summer is fun, but I love being around them and seeing their awesomeness up close."
-Liz Gumbel Duvall, Gamma/Butler ABC
"Fall is an exciting time for any college student, but this year is an even more special one. Eta Xi is celebrating 10 years in 2016, and it's wonderful to have been just a small slice of that history as an advisory board member. So many important Theta events will take place in the next few months, including the chapter celebrating its first decade with an alumni brunch in November. I could not be more proud of the chapter and wish them a safe, smart and happy semester."
-Laura Magnotta, Eta Xi/Quinnipiac ABC
Are you a college chapter advisor or chapter officer? Why are you eager to get back to your Theta role? What's your top Theta priority for the year ahead?
As part of an ice-breaking exercise the other day, I was asked to develop a personal tag line, and the first one that popped into my head was pretty frivolous: "You can't have too many shoes." I love shoes, but, yes, I can see that it might be possible to have too many. One can only wear one pair at a time, after all.
Self-indulgently, there are many things, in addition to shoes, that I enjoy having in large quantities. One of those is magazines.
There isn't much that makes me happier than a tall stack of unread magazines. Who knows what treasures are waiting on their pages? As with wrapped birthday presents, the anticipation is half the fun.
If you haven't already received the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of the Theta magazine, it should arrive in your mailbox in just a few days. So as not to spoil any sense of surprise, I won't describe any of the contents and will let you decide which articles are treasures that need to be read right now and which can wait a bit. While we all have multiple demands on our attention, I hope that seeing the large "Theta" banner across the top of the front cover, as well as the three smiling faces below it, will stir up a bit of excitement for you.
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