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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!
Julia Cline, Beta Chi/Alberta, is the college district director (CDD) for College District X. She was a member of the risk prevention committee and operations advisor for Beta Chi.
Undergraduate officer roles: Chapter president (now chief executive officer), vice president education (now chief learning officer), and alumnae relations chairman (now alumnae relations director).
How did you learn about the opportunity to become a Theta volunteer? I knew about chapter advisors, because Beta Chi has always had a very strong and involved advisory board, but I learned about other volunteer opportunities when I was asked to join the risk prevention committee.
What made you want to become a Theta volunteer? I had really fantastic chapter advisors as a collegian, whom I naturally looked up to as mentors and role models. It meant a lot to me that they would give their free time to support the chapter, and I believe in paying forward what they invested in me to the next generation of Thetas. For me, it was a very natural progression to go from a college chapter officer to an advisor. I knew that I wanted to have Theta in my life post-college, and volunteering is a great way to do that.
How long have you been a Theta volunteer? 8 years!
Do you, or did you have, a Theta mentor? Cynthea Yestal has been my Theta mentor since I was a collegian. I had the opportunity to work with her when she was the ABC for Beta Chi during my tenure as president, as a member of the risk committee (which she currently chairs), and now in my role as CDD. She has consistently provided me with encouragement, guidance and friendship. I admire how she approaches even the most difficult of situations with a level head and sound advice.
I also draw a lot of mentoring inspiration from the amazing team of CDDs, who are full of sage advice. I have looked up to this group of women for years, admiring how much of themselves they give to this organization, and I am humbled to be among them.
Why do you stay involved with Theta?I believe in only doing things that bring you joy. Theta has given me so much joy in my life and constantly reaffirms the decision I made to join nearly 13 years ago. I truly love working with our collegians; they are so creative and do such amazing things! I love to see them succeed scholastically, philanthropically and as leaders on their campus and within Theta. I love how they embrace challenges and come up with unique solutions. They constantly inspire me!
Do you have a special volunteering moment? This summer I had the honor to serve as a small group facilitator for the Emerging Leaders Institute at DePauw University. I got a front-row view as this group of leading women dug deep to tackle some tough discussion topics and activities, and saw how quickly they connected with one another—the beauty of Theta! The energy of this weekend was like none other. I still smile when I think of all the memories and fun we had that weekend! While at DePauw, we also got to visit the Alpha Chapter facility and visit Bettie Locke's grave, which was a truly special experience!
Do you have a special Theta moment? Surprising my youngest sister, Lindsay, at her initiation. I was living out of town and had convinced her I was too busy with school to make it for her initiation, but secretly, I had been planning my trip since her Bid Day! With a lot of help and coordination from family and friends, I was able to share this special moment with her. Another very special moment was standing up for my best friend Jenn at her wedding. Jenn and I have been friends since high school, joined Theta together, and have shared so much more since then!
Do you have a profession or personal passion? I am really passionate about women in science technology engineering and math (STEM) fields. I studied astrophysics and aerospace engineering in college, graduating with my PhD in engineering in 2015. Most of the time, I was one of only a handful of women in my classes, and I want to see this improve in future generations. This is one of the reasons Theta is so important in my life. Theta gave me the support and encouragement I needed from a group of empowered and forward-thinking women role models when I needed it the most. The skills I developed as a leader in Theta have carried over as vital skills to my professional career, so you'll also find that I am passionate about the sorority experience and developing leadership skills of our current collegians.
I also love visiting Theta chapters and campuses, whether it be for a Theta trip or just while I'm in town on personal or work travel. I set out on my "Theta chapter bucket list" a few years ago and recently visited my 30th Theta house! It warms my heart every time I see those three Greek letters!
Undergraduate officer positions held: Facility manager (now facility management director) and vice president administration (now chief administrative officer).
How did you learn about the opportunity to become a Theta volunteer?
In terms of my advisor involvement, my friend was on the Psi/Wisconsin advisory board and was transitioning off. She asked if she could recommend me. For the Gen X Board, I received an email asking for interested participants and applied.
What made you want to become a Theta volunteer?
I love giving back, and it's fun to volunteer with my sisters. The Alumnae Service Trip in New Orleans was life-changing. It was a great group of women, many of whom I still keep in contact. In fact, I was in Denver coaching at the Emerging Women Live leadership conference, and one of my fellow service trip participants lives there, so we met for dinner. It was so great to see a friendly face in an unfamiliar city. She even picked me up from the airport. That's not friendship, that is sisterhood; going the extra step to love and support one another.
How long have you been a Theta volunteer? Nine years.
Do you, or did you have, a Theta mentor?
Yes, several. The Psi Chapter advisory board chairman (ABC) when I was an undergraduate officer, Regina Collins Simon, has been my mentor for almost 20 years. From helping me find my stride as a leader in my chapter to cheering me on when I started my business, to checking in on me when I left my corporate job, she is an amazing woman. I am so blessed to have her in my life. Theta has brought so many talented, ambitious, big-hearted women into my world, and I am forever grateful.
Why do you stay involved with Theta?
To honor my values. At my core, giving back and inspiring the next generation of women is so important to me. It's like breathing for me, really. As an adult, it has also been a great way to make friends. It's easier to develop a relationship when you have similar values. Theta is the gift that keeps on giving!
Do you have a special volunteering moment?
Definitely the Alumnae Service Trip. I even wrote a post about it on my personal blog.
Do you have a special Theta moment?
Just one? Initiation night with my big sister. I wasn't sure what to expect, and she made it such a special experience. I remember at one point she had her hand on my shoulder to support and encourage me ... and it's felt like that ever since. I am so lucky to have her in my life, then and now. She is a loyal friend, amazing wife and mother and now business owner. I am the oldest of three, so I always wanted a big sister and she's been that for me. While life has taken us down different paths, I know she is always there for me no matter what.
Do you have a profession or personal passion?
Yes, inspired by Theta of course. I am passionate about women's empowerment, the confidence and courage to be a powerful force in the world. Women often let doubt hold them back, yet I have seen what is possible when you believe in yourself and take action. This is especially true as I grew as a leader. My Theta experience inspired me to join the Junior League and eventually become president, which gave me the skills and confidence to start my business. I love supporting women at the intersection of leadership and business strategy.
Do you know a Theta who's made a difference in her local Theta chapter? Let us know!