I cried on the morning of commencement. Graduation was a time to celebrate. I should have been all smiles, but this time was also bittersweet; on that morning I was also saying goodbye to my best friends, my proudest achievements, and the home I had comfortably shaped around myself over the last four years. Everything I did that morning was a last: last time getting ready at a mirror too small for five women to comfortably share, last time enjoying the easy convenience of living five steps from my best friend, last time stepping out of my house before I moved.
I usually don't cry when I think I should. Weddings, reunions, and the most sentimental toasts fill me with emotion but I rarely wear it on my face. That morning I surprised myself by bawling like a baby; it was the end of an era.
Five hours later, I had finished a lot of "lasts." I bid goodbyes to my friends. Campus was polished and new. Flowers had sprung up; my university was decked and adorned for the graduation ceremony. Behind the pomp, I recognized my old, familiar school and quietly said goodbye to it as well.
A rush of pride swept over me as I received my diploma; I had graduated. I realized then my college experience was so meaningful because it was finite.
The gap between graduation and ELC training had been pleasant but devoid of "firsts;" I had slept in the same bed I had since I was eight. I had run the same trails and eaten on the same plates. I arrived at summer ELC training blasting music in a silver rental car. My stomach bounced in happy, nervous anticipation; I was itching to learn new things and meet new people.
After I graduated, I gained a deeper appreciation for how impactful Theta can be. I became an ELC because of my college experience; I will always carry that with me. I have a sense of adventure now, though. I want to experience others "firsts." I want to see what makes other Theta's experiences so special and why, when it's time, it will be bittersweet for them to say goodbye, too.
Share with us your Theta story and why Theta is special to you in the comments section below!
Mental health affects everyone. In fact, all people fall somewhere on the mental health spectrum, from a positive to a negative state of mental health. So, what exactly is mental health? The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community." Every day, we deal with our own mental health and some days are better/worse than others. May is Mental Health Month, and it's a good time to learn how Sisters Supporting Sisters can help you, and the people around you, on those more difficult days.
Sisters Supporting Sisters is a mental health initiative by Kappa Alpha Theta to help support members with all of the various factors impacting one's mental health. Sisters Supporting Sisters is able to do this by providing online resources for college chapters and advisors to recognize and offer guidance to members who may be encountering mental health challenges. The resources provided range from topics such as body image to depression, but the website also offers information on a confidential, 24/7 hotline called Talk One-2-One. Talk One-2-One is a free service for members of Kappa Alpha Theta to talk with a counselor on the phone at any time, even during school breaks.
No one is alone in their challenges with mental health. If you, or someone you know, is having difficulty dealing with the state of their mental health, please seek out help, whether that is with the Sisters Supporting Sisters resources or with a on-campus or community professional.
As ELCs, we crave new experiences, adventures and growth. Serving the Fraternity as consultants has given us this opportunity. Reflecting on our experiences traveling throughout North America, living in new cities and meeting hundreds of Thetas, we are all in awe of what has been accomplished. For some ELCs, it is time to say goodbye to this adventure and hello to another.
Whether we are traveling the globe, moving to a new city, or headed home, we are permanently stamped with life lessons that will continue to benefit us. During our time as ELCs, we quickly learned to adapt to new environments and work with all types of people. We learned to be flexible, have an open mind, a generous heart and always tip the man checking our suitcases.
Most importantly, we are proud of how the ELC program has shaped us into the women we are today. We are eager for the next team of ELCs to share this experience and broaden their life's horizons.
As we say goodbye, we will forever carry in our hearts the miles traveled, people met, and adventures had. We know that just because we move to different states, or even countries, no border can sever the friendships Theta has given us. Thank you, Theta, for the adventure of a lifetime and now, on to the next!
As the semester comes to a close and finals are fast approaching, it is easy to become overwhelmed and stressed with the amount of work to be done before summer break. As I visit campuses, I have seen a few great ways chapters are incorporating positive mental health into their last few events before finals. Here are three easy ways to bring programming to your chapter to prepare for this demanding time:
1. Sisterhood Spa Night: Recently, I have seen more and more chapters planning sisterhood spa nights. An easy and inexpensive sisterhood event, you can grab some face masks and nail polish, and play some relaxing spa music! You can make a massage train or even hire a campus masseuse (many campus wellness/health centers have massage therapists who do free or very cheap massages - they can sometimes even bring a massage chair to you!). This is a simple and fun way to get members together to relax and enjoy each other's company prior to finals.
2. Host a Mental Health Education Night: May is Mental Health Month. With the stress and anxiety that finals can bring, it is a great time to have a chapter discussion about mental health, depression, anxiety, and coping. Sisters Supporting Sisters provides many resources for members to educate and learn more about mental health. Additionally, chapters can connect members to Talk One-2-One, a 24/7 confidential hotline for members to speak with a qualified counselor.
3. Connect Members to Useful De-stressing Applications: If your chapter is unable to schedule an event, the following are great resources for all members to schedule their own relaxation time. Each of these applications (free on the iTunes AppStore) provides a guided mediation/relaxation sequence - a simple and easy way to find a bit of relaxation during the stressful finals time!
- Relax+ with Andrew Johnson
- Stop, Breathe, and Think
- 5 Minute Relaxation
Is your chapter incorporating mental health programming into your final weeks on campus? Are you holding an event different than the ones listed above? Let us know your ideas in the comments below!
In recent years, an increasing number of women in both the United States and Canada have begun to drink in a way that threatens their health, safety, and general well-being. Women's dependence on alcohol is now nearly at parity with men, although fewer women seek treatment for dependence due to the cultural stigma associated with it, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Many women who are dependent on alcohol are highly-functioning individuals with an impressive education, career, and family life. However, alcohol abuse poses serious health risks and emotional difficulties to women of all ages.
Today, April 7, is National Alcohol Screening Day. On this day, men and women across the country are encouraged to increase their education and awareness about dependent drinking behaviors and consider their own alcohol consumption. The initiative is held annually on Thursday of the first full week of April.
Would you like to find out more about your own alcohol consumption? Now is an excellent time to take advantage of the resources Kappa Alpha Theta offers to promote mental health and wellness among alumnae and collegians. You can participate in the initiative by accessing the Alcohol Use Disorder screening on the Sisters Supporting Sisters page. The screening only takes a few minutes and is completely anonymous.
If you would like more information regarding alcohol dependency and how to seek treatment, you can also call Talk One-2-One, a free and anonymous service that provides confidential support.
I've heard the saying, "Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings." Gratitude is empowering, and this April, our college chapters should embrace and demonstrate gratitude for the many contributions of Theta's wonderful advisors. Do you want to make sure your chapter advisors know you are grateful for their service? Consider these three suggestions.
Deliver a handwritten note.
The love and careful thought that goes into crafting a simple thank-you note will go a long way. There is beauty in a simple and genuine message. Encourage all officers to write a thoughtful message to an advisor this April.
Treat them to dinner and great conversation.
Advisors dedicate so much time to supporting chapter officers and operations; it is easy to forget these women have a Theta story, too. Take your advisors to lunch or dinner and ask them to share their story with you. Showing interest in others is a great way to show you appreciate and respect them.
Nominate your advisors for awards.
Many campuses or communities have awards that publicly recognize outstanding advisors/mentors. Be sure to nominate chapter advisors for awards such as "Advisor of the Year." If your campus does not celebrate chapter advisors, consider creating awards. Categories could include "Most Inspirational" or "Most Enthusiastic," etc.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Fraternity, and chapter advisors make up the majority of Fraternity volunteers. How will your chapter celebrate Advisor Appreciation Month?
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