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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!
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?
April 10-16 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. My job at Theta headquarters is focused primarily on volunteer recruitment, retention and recognition, so this week has a special place in my heart.
Something new we've created for this year's celebration is a Volunteer Impact Report, which shares high-level statistics and fun facts about the Theta volunteer experience. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out.
The numbers are certainly impressive, but something they can't possibly illustrate are the amazing, sometimes jaw-dropping, stories and anecdotes I hear from our staff members about volunteers on a daily basis.
Like one volunteer who took her vacation time from work and travelled halfway across the country to help chapters prepare for recruitment. There's a volunteer who lives in Hong Kong but would still make every conference call, even when the times were likely completely inconvenient for her. And one committee member who would be on conference calls in the car pool line at her child's school.
I've heard about advisors approving forms from the hospital when they've fallen ill, and one who has purchased more than 20 Life Loyal gifts for other members. I communicate daily with district directors who I could swear spend more time responding to Theta email in a day than I do.
These examples might seem extreme, but one thing I've encountered with nearly every volunteer with whom I work is a complete selflessness and dedication to the wider good of the Fraternity.
We have more than 2,700 volunteers serving Theta at this very moment. It's no secret that without volunteers, the Fraternity simply could not exist. To these women, and to those volunteers past and future, I want to say thank you on behalf of EVERY Theta. Your dedication and love brings tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart more times than you can possibly imagine.
"So there is no happiness without responsibility, no receiving without also giving...It is ours through these channels of intimacy to lead others to truer life by your example."
When I was a collegian at Butler University in the mid 2000s, I remember it being difficult to find a mentor (studies show that women have a harder time finding a mentor than their male counterparts). I looked to professors and managers at my internship positions, which were useful, but these relationships seemed one-sided at times. I ended up finding a mentor in a place I didn't expect: Theta.
As vice president of external relations (now chief marketing officer), my advisor was Lisa Thibault. Lisa was always there to answer questions and support as I navigated my earliest years in a leadership position. She was eager to write me letters of recommendation when I needed them, even helping me land a Theta Foundation scholarship, which assisted me in paying for my education. This relationship did not seem one sided at all, because we were—and are—sisters.
According to Tiffany Dufu at Levo, "Successful mentorship relationships are reciprocal and involve elements like sharing common interests, staying in touch, enhancing networks, and learning more about yourself." Could fellow Thetas fit that description any more?
Fast-forward 10 years, and Lisa is now my co-worker at Fraternity headquarters. In my early years, she helped me navigate the intricacies of a new workplace. She supported my ideas when I was not confident in them. She's encouraged my personal and professional growth. She's told me things that she knew might be difficult for me to hear. She celebrated my successes.
During this Advisor Appreciation Month, I wanted to say thank you, Lisa, for being a supportive advisor (even after all these years!), a great mentor, and most importantly, a trusted friend and sister.
How about you? Does our relationship sound familiar? Do you have a current or former Theta advisor who serves as a mentor in your life?
As I read through the 39 names, I realized that I've worked directly with so many of these women—college district directors, permanent alumnae secretaries, former and current Grand Council members—and it made me proud to see how far they've come in their Theta volunteering journey.
For example, Fraternity President Laura Doerre is celebrating 10 years of service this year, but she certainly didn't start there. Her volunteer tenure began as an officer with her Houston NW Alumnae Chapter. And each year, she climbed the Theta ladder to the highest volunteer position.
As I thought about her trajectory, and those of the other women on the list, I began to think about our future. About your future. Have you ever thought about giving back to the Fraternity? What skills and talents could you share with us?
It doesn't take any time to get started, so complete a Volunteer Interest Indicator today (login required). And maybe in 10 years, we too will ask, "How did she get her start?"
International and district officers, committee chairmen, and PASes are eligible for volunteer charms.
During National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 12-18, 2015), we ask all our members to take a moment to thank the Theta volunteers in their lives. Visit our Facebook page to tag your favorite volunteer in a post using #ThankaTheta. Visit our Pinterest board to find simple but meaningful ways to show a Theta volunteer how much you appreciate her. Post a picture of you and a Theta volunteer to our Instagram page.
Volunteers are the leading women who help make Theta her best. Check out this list of our volunteers to find a chapter advisor's name, an alumnae chapter president's name, or even your name.
Thank you, Theta volunteers!
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