As a senior at the University of Vermont, I had a lot to consider as I made my way toward entering the so-called "real world." As a college student, I was reluctant to trade my one-class-per-day lifestyle for a typical 9-to-5 job. Looking back on why I applied to be an ELC, I was driven by three lessons my father taught me that have to do with career choices, life plans, and happiness. What is my passion in life? How can I pursue that passion and make it my profession without regard to its monetary reward? Finally, what area of the country will nourish my aspirations? I think these questions have gotten me to where I am today. I am fortunate to have found a job I love that helps me look back on my entrance into the "real world" with a smile on my face.
Here are a few things I learned while following my father's advice.
- Location is important. Consider what part of that country (or even the world!) that you would like to live in. Where will you be the most connected? Where do your family and friends live? Do you think you should be near the ones that you love? I am based in Santa Cruz, California, and have family that lives in Los Angeles. If I ever need anything, they are there. This makes me feel safe. But I also travel quite a bit as an educational leadership consultant, so I am able to meet family and friends in new parts of the country.
- Make sure you feel empowered in your workplace. The structure and management style of a company is important. Do you feel like you have creative liberties within your position? Are you fulfilled and happy with what you accomplish each day? As a Theta collegian, I felt very empowered in my officer positions. As chief recruiting officer and service & philanthropy director, I felt like the events I planned changed the chapter and created a positive environment. I was proud after recruitment and after learning of the contributions our event raised for CASA. That is why I decided to be an ELC. I knew that if I could feel that empowered as a collegian, I could really make a difference working at the international level.
- Don't settle for a job that doesn't absolutely fulfill you. This relates to the passion aspect of my father's guidance. Are you passionate about what you're doing? Does it make you happy? Would you continue working there if you did not have an annual salary? I love my job as an ELC. Every day brings new excitements and new challenges. Based at our newest chapter at UC Santa Cruz, I have had the privilege of meeting some incredible women. I am thankful for what I get to do when I wake up every morning and thankful that my lucky twin stars brought me to where I am today.
The first time I heard the phrase "Theta for a lifetime" was during new member education. I was excited to hear that Theta would be a part of my life far past my college experience, but it wasn't until I graduated and joined my local alumnae chapter that I realized Theta was going to be an awesome experience for years and years to come. The spring semester is drawing to an end, and many seniors are coming to the end of their college Theta experience. Here are a few ideas for ensuring that "Theta for a lifetime" is as true for other young alumnae as it has been for me!
- Join a Local Alumnae Chapter or Circle: Alumnae chapters and circles are a great way to stay connected with Thetas in a familiar town or a great way to meet new friends in a new city. There are more than 200 alumnae groups! Since graduation, I have belonged to several alumnae chapters that have kept me involved and helped me make new friends in a brand-new city. Find a list of all local alumnae chapters and circles.
- Volunteer as a Chapter Advisor: Chapter advisors are integral to the success of each college chapter. By serving on an advisory board, alumnae interact and impact collegians in a special way. Advisory boards include advisors for community involvement, scholarship, Panhellenic, recruitment, and much more. Learn how to become a chapter advisor.
- Join the Reading Women Book Club: Reading Women is an online book club connecting collegian and alumnae members. One book is chosen each month, and members can participate in online discussions about the readings. Find book selections for 2017.
- Attend an Alumnae Service Trip: Theta has a service trip for alumnae participants. Thanks to the support of Theta Foundation, members travel to a location to serve the community Learn more about the Alumnae Service Trip.
- Join Theta's LinkedIn Group: Theta has its own LinkedIn group to help members stay connected and network on the web. Request to join the group.
Whatever type of involvement suits you best, Theta offers many post-graduation opportunities. In fact, I've found some of my best Theta friends since graduation. I will always be thankful for connections wherever I go and great ways to stay involved. How will you participate in Theta for a lifetime? Share with us in the comments below!
As we come to the end of this year's Ritual Celebration Week, it's important not only to celebrate the beginnings of Kappa Alpha Theta and her ritual, but to reflect on the relevance of it today for our chapters and ourselves.
It can be easy at times to view ritual as just another part of membership. But if we don't actively reflect on the true meaning of our ritual, we run the risk of losing out on the most meaningful part of being a Kappa Alpha Theta: the bond we share with each and every sister of the Fraternity. This bond outlasts all others, it is what makes Theta unique even 147 years after her founding.
Even in times of great social polarization, our ritual has a harmonizing effect. The services are a unifying force, binding Thetas together in love and sisterhood. Ritual is the core of Kappa Alpha Theta. Regardless of the year in which you were initiated, the chapter you belong to, or the offices you held, each sister is linked to all others through the humbling experience of our Pledge, Loyalty, and Initiation Services.
These services are as important today as they were when they were first established. Ritual is something to not only celebrate during the new member period, but it is what should guide our daily interactions with our sisters, our friends, our community, and our world. The promises made during Initiation are promises to be upheld each day as we strive to be the best version of ourselves and support our sisters in their quest to do the same.
Ritual is a call to each of us to continue the legacy begun by Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Bettie in 1870. It challenges us to seek to understand those who are different from us, to spread the widest influence for good, and to lead with love. A charter class member from Theta Mu Chapter, Jojo Clark, recently said, "Be mindful of our incredible privilege in belonging to such a powerful network of diverse women." This week and every week, take time to reflect on the challenge and privilege given to us by our founders, and the ritual that remains at the core of our powerful sisterhood.
This Sunday begins the annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 26-March 4) in the U.S. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 70 million people worldwide will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life. The reality of that statistic is that you either know someone who is dealing with an eating disorder, or are dealing with one yourself. We don't like to believe these things. I didn't like to either, until I found myself in the middle of my own eating disorder.
You may be surprised to learn these disorders don't develop from a desire to be thin; they develop from a need for control. We live in a fast-paced world fueled by stress, perfection, and comparison. We all deal with those pressures differently, and for some people that means paying close attention to the things they can control, including food and body weight.
I don't remember when I started not liking myself, or the way I looked, or when I started counting calories. All I remember is stepping on the scale every morning. I would weigh myself and then look in the mirror at my soft stomach and say, "Still not good enough," even though I was 25 pounds lighter in January than I had been in August.
I remember days of having to take a break on my way to class because I was so hungry I felt like I was going to pass out. But I was wearing a size 4 and weighed 125 pounds, so it was worth it to me. On the inside, I hated everything about myself. I was working, taking 18 hours of classes, serving as an officer in my chapter, and I didn't understand how I couldn't do it all perfectly. I wouldn't tell anyone I was struggling because I wanted to maintain my reputation as someone who could handle anything. People would ask me how I had gotten so skinny, and I developed a story about how I had started running every day. Then they'd compliment me and that would be enough to get me through another day. In my eyes, if I couldn't control anything else, I could at least control the number on the scale.
Looking back on it, I was grasping for any sort of affirmation I could get. Every comment on my size was another reason to keep going because I was doing something right if people noticed, right? I couldn't see the problem, even when I found myself lying on the floor of my Theta dorm room one night while a friend took care of me because I'd not eaten properly in months and my body just gave out.
After doctor appointments to fix what I had ruined by not taking care of my body and a year of weekly visits with a therapist and nutritionist, I was finally able to put things into perspective. No one understood why I let things get so far out of hand and, honestly, I'm not sure either. I look back at photos of myself from that time and see how small and sad I seemed. I was small in size and small in self-worth.
Every day I have to make a conscious effort to not engage in negative self-talk. Sometimes I still see the same tendencies in myself from that season of life. I'll catch myself eating really small bites so it feels like I'm eating more, or I'll push myself too far at the gym for the gratification of seeing more calories burned. Just like an addiction, an eating disorder never fully goes away. I'll always hear a tiny voice telling me I shouldn't eat dinner or that I should run an extra mile, but for the most part I can tone that voice out. It takes extra effort on tough days, but it is always possible.
I spent over a year of my life counting calories and hating myself. I wasted an entire year of college trying to understand why I couldn't measure up, when in reality I had developed a distorted self-image. I realize how lucky I am to have spent only a year dealing with an eating disorder, while some people suffer for much longer. I understand how difficult it is to admit that something is wrong and to ask for help. I feel for every single individual who has looked in a mirror and hated the image staring back at her, and I hope that if you are currently dealing with an eating disorder you can find the strength to face it and fight it. Because you are good enough and you've never been anything less.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, you are not alone! Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or call their hotline at 1-800-931-2237 (1-866-633-4220 in Canada) for more information.
While Valentine's Day provides a scheduled opportunity for families, partners, and friends to shower one another with love, affection, and cheap candy, I enjoy celebrating the unofficially titled "Galentine's Day" on February 13. To me, this day serves as a chance to reflect on the impressive and vibrant women I have crossed paths with in my life and who I continue to emulate and admire each day.
I spent the last week working with fellow ELCs, Fraternity volunteers, HQ staff, and alumnae at Gamma Kappa Chapter's reestablishment at George Washington University. As I met new member after new member and saw friendships budding between the overwhelmed—but enthusiastic—women, I was continuously overcome with emotions of excitement, sincerity, and love as I thought about these women beginning their experience with Kappa Alpha Theta.
Bettie, Hannah, Alice, and Bettie sparked the original Theta bond. Today, the love I have for the Fraternity and its members is due in part to our founders, but also to the contemporary women who have shaped my own Theta experience. Love can present itself in different and often unexpected ways, but the love that exists in the Fraternity appears in many facets of my life.
It is pride for the international organization of which I am a part and my constant effort to better the chapters I work with while traveling around the continent.
It is my excitement for the Gamma Kappa charter members and all new members who have yet to realize the impact Kappa Alpha Theta will have on their lives and my gratitude for the exposure to new cities, good eats, fresh ideas, and worldly perspectives.
It is support of and from my peers who continue to pursue the widest influence for good in all their endeavors, and it is my appreciation for the brilliant, creative, authentic, hardworking, talented, conscientious, thoughtful, and inspiring members of Kappa Alpha Theta who are unapologetically themselves.
Each February since 2000, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) has celebrated the Month of the Scholar. Through resources such as the Academic Excellence Handbook, NPC promotes academic excellence within the Panhellenic community.
As Thetas, scholarship is our highest aim. Although receiving high grades and test scores remains important, Thetas strive for more than that. We are involved in student government; we are conducting research; we are being invited to join honor societies. Thanks to progressive chapter programming, Thetas across the US and Canada continue to maintain impressive grade point averages, hold prestigious extracurricular positions, and remain engaged with their Theta chapters.
As we celebrate NPC's Month of the Scholar, we reflect not only on how we can improve our chapter's scholastic efforts, but also on how we can achieve as a Panhellenic community. Before we are Panhellenic women, we are students. In order to maintain the high scholastic reputation our chapters hold, scholarship must remain the focus of our endeavors.
Share with us in the comments below how your chapter is promoting scholarship this month!
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