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Mary Bocek Comstock, Alpha Sigma/Washington State, is ritual, education and scholarship advisor for Alpha Sigma/Washington State. She previously served at administrative advisor for the chapter. From 2015-17, she volunteered for Theta Foundation's Seattle Scholarship Application Review Committee. Between 2012-2013, she was a member of the Alpha Sigma Centennial Planning Committee, during which she started the Alpha Sigma Alumnae Mentors Program.
Undergraduate officer positions held: House manager (now facility management director) and president (now CEO).
How did you learn about the opportunity to become a Theta volunteer? I'd always known there were volunteer opportunities, of course, but I'll admit I didn't put myself out there as life seemed just too busy. Each of the specific opportunities happened because someone I knew asked me! It's the power of being asked, I suppose.
What made you want to become a Theta volunteer? Theta has always been very special to me. Of course Theta gave me lifelong friends and sisters, but there is more. It is not an exaggeration to note that Theta took a shy, awkward 18-year-old and gave me the confidence and tools to become a leader. I want to be a small part of empowering young leading women to grow into their best selves and watch them pay it forward. We lead, and we develop leaders.
Do you, or did you have, a Theta mentor? I have been influenced by so many Thetas, it is hard to choose just one, so I'll reach back to the very first. If she's reading this, my guess is she will be surprised. The day I pledged was super-busy, exciting and a little scary. I thought, "How will I get to know all of these women? They're never going to like me after they really get to know me." I had an English placement exam the next day and needed my student ID to take it. I realized I'd left my ID at the chapter house when I left Bid Day to go back to my dorm. I couldn't go back to the house alone! Who could I even call? My first academic challenge and...failure. I decided I wouldn't take the test and would not save the money to place out of 101. An hour later, I received a phone call from my Bid Day Buddy, Cindy Robinson Stevens, a woman I barely knew. She told me she had my purse and asked if she could drop it by my dorm; she remembered I had a test. She cared about my success and she was my sister. It was one of those moments that was both profound and taught me that Thetas take care of each other. Ever since, I hope that in big ways and small, I too, have been taking care of Theta and Thetas.
Do you have a special volunteering moment? The Alpha Sigma Centennial in 2013 was beyond special. Serving on the committee, meeting the alumnae and college women, and working with the ritualist, Renee Hausske, really stands out.
Do you have a special Theta moment? I love our ritual. Two special initiations stand out, without a doubt. In 2008, I was present for my daughter Sarah Comstock's initiation. I was so happy for her and I knew this was the beginning of a lifelong adventure for her. In 2009, I was present when our then chapter president (now CEO) Hillary Hadland and many other former chapter presidents initiated our decades-long and retired house mom (facility director), Judy (Julia) Smith, into Kappa Alpha Theta.
Do you have a profession or personal passion? I am a Librarian Services Manager for the King County Library System. My personal and professional passion is for reading and information in all its iterations. In a public library setting this could include a patron's next great read, a student's concern about the validity of a source, where a family will find shelter for the night and everything in between. It's great to be able to serve in a place where libraries are so well supported!
Karen Pryor, Delta Iota/Puget Sound, is a member of the diversity and inclusion group and an Alcohol Skills Training Program facilitator. She previously served as a facilitator at Emerging Leaders Institute and CEO Leadership Academy, co-lead on a Theta Service Trip, and scorer on the Golden Kite Scoring Committee.
Undergraduate officer positions held: Chapter president (now chief executive officer), vice president development (now chief operating officer) and vice president of Puget Sound's Panhellenic executive board.
How did you learn about the opportunity to become a Theta volunteer? After connecting with a few women who worked for Fraternity headquarters, I volunteered with the organization at a conference. From there, new opportunities kept popping up.
What made you want to become a Theta volunteer? I had such a positive experience during my college years and I was always so thankful for the time and energy that our advisors devoted to elevating the organization. For me, it's always been about paying it forward for the next group of college women.
How long have you been a Theta volunteer? About 4 years.
Do you, or did you have, a Theta mentor? I have had the opportunity to connect with a number of really inspiring women whom I consider professional and personal role models through my volunteer work. Working in student affairs and higher education can be challenging; we are often working long hours grappling with heavy topics such as binge drinking, hazing, and sexual assault. It's been hugely helpful to be able to lean on women like Melissa Shaub, Corin Gioia Edwards, Anne Arseneau, Melissa Rocco, and Lindsay Sell for support and guidance.
Why do you stay involved with Theta? I really believe in the power of this experience and a space for college women to feel supported, challenged, and connected is needed now more than ever. For me, it always feels like time well spent.
Do you have a special volunteering moment? The 2014 Theta Service Trip was a really special experience for me. I met so many inspiring collegians, many of whom I am still close with today. We had the opportunity to volunteer with incredible organizations and see the impact of our time and energy on the lives of others. It was 100 degrees and 100% humidity, but we still had a blast the entire time.
Do you have a special Theta moment? It was meaningful to win Chapter of the Year during my time as chapter president. We had been working so hard to improve our chapter in a number of areas, and it was so affirming to be recognized for our progress and for the quality of the member experience we were offering to women in Theta.
Do you have a profession or personal passion? I am truly passionate about women's empowerment and intersectional feminism. In my day job, I get to work with collegians on a daily basis and help the leaders of their organizations work to create and facilitate spaces for women to be truly empowered and to learn across differences. We are currently in a renaissance of feminist content and so many women from across identities and perspectives are getting a chance to tell their stories. I love being able to engage with all the podcasts, movies, books, and articles that are coming out.
Carolyn Catron Woodard, Gamma Tau/Tulsa, is a Theta Foundation trustee and a member of the chapter and individual grants committee. She is a 50-year member, Life Loyal, and active in the Tulsa Alumnae Chapter.
How did you learn about the opportunity to become a Theta volunteer? Each volunteer opportunity for Theta came as an invitation from another Theta. Personally expressing the rewards of service and the blessings received from benefiting the sisterhood brings the greatest dividends.
What made you want to become a Theta volunteer? As an educator, I clearly understood the role and the responsibility for nurturing the next generation. Tom Brokaw has said, "It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference." My position as a Theta Foundation trustee has given me the privilege of working with Thetas of all ages. It is my hope that I have made and will continue to make a difference in the lives of the young Thetas with whom I have worked.
How long have you been a Theta volunteer? Being a volunteer for Theta has been a lifelong endeavor. At each stage of my adulthood, it was my goal to live a balanced life; look for a role model; find someone who lives a healthy, happy and balanced life and emulate; and protect my personal and family time while still modeling a life of service.
Do you, or did you have, a Theta mentor or mentee? Many of my Theta sisters have been quick to give aid and support to me over the last 52 years. Theta sisters have been at my side throughout my life in joy and in sorrow.
Yet, one Theta, my pledge trainer (now the chief education officer) made an enormous impression on this young, awkward and immature freshman. Barbara MacLean Turner, two years older than I, was a remarkable encourager. With courage, commitment, determination, toughness, heart, talent, and guts, this extraordinary Theta guided our class through the trials and joys of the freshman college experience. She has been a role model for all of us throughout the decades by demonstrating the graceful way to meet each life challenge.
Why do you stay involved with Theta? If I were not to be involved in Theta activities, I would miss the opportunity to meet and work with marvelous women from all over the globe! My life has been enriched by the good fortune to serve with exceptionally talented Theta women. I enjoy watching the younger members get excited and contribute to our mission.
Early in my term I had the opportunity to become acquainted with a group of Soaring Kites. Their compassion and support for each other as quite touching.
Do you have a special volunteering moment? Cooking with the Soaring Kites Thetas has been a memorable experience. Their curiosity and readiness to accept a new exploration in world of food thrilled me. "Cooking with Carolyn" started when these young alumnae inquired about a dessert that I had made. Those four young Thetas enthusiastically jumped at the idea of rolling up their sleeves and donning an apron to learn cooking techniques. I taught them how to prepare my favorite recipes and they taught me how to maneuver through Facebook. Laughter filled my kitchen.
Do you have a special Theta moment? One of the most treasured memories of my Theta life was having a part in the acknowledgment of the accomplishments and contributions of my Theta mentor. The distinguished Theta of the Year Award was bestowed by our local alumnae chapter on Barbara MacLean Turner for her remarkable impact on the lives of her Theta sisters and gracious way of embracing others.
Do you have a profession or personal passion? It makes no difference what your vocation, the individual is enriched by serving others. The personal benefit comes through the act of service - the helpful hand given freely. Giving back to our Fraternity demonstrates your gratitude for the love and compassion shown by the Sisterhood. Make a difference, meet new Thetas, gain new skills, and make a positive impact of the future of our sisterhood - VOLUNTEER.
Do you know a Theta who's made a difference in her local Theta chapter? Let us know!