April 19, 2014

On the Road: Forming Friendships on the Road


It has now been a week since I returned home from this once in a lifetime experience of being an ELC. In my bedroom, you’ll find my two suitcases still packed as well as tons of Alpha Phi shirts, along with all of the collegiate t-shirts I collected from each campus all over my floor (because who has time to unpack, hang up clothes and then repack anyway, right?!). I haven’t unpacked my suitcases yet because part of me feels like in a few days I’m going to be heading back out to visit a new chapter. The other part of me isn’t ready to unpack because that will mean this experience is really over. In reality, it’s not over at all; I have a new Alpha Phi experience that is just beginning…as a volunteer!

While I am so excited to start this new chapter of my life, obtaining my Master’s Degree in Electronic Media & Communications at Texas Tech University, I can’t help but constantly reflect and reminisce on this past year. Now that I’m back home in Texas, I find myself answering the same questions about what it was like being an ELC: how was it, what exactly did you do, where did you stay, where all did you go, wow you really were all over the place, what a cool experience and the biggest one, what was my favorite part of the job? There is no doubt that my favorite part of this job was all of the friendships I made while on the road.
 
Through this job, you meet so many different people from all over, each with a unique background. Whether it was a chapter I was visiting for two weeks for recruitment, like Virginia Tech or the University of Oklahoma, a chapter I was only with for about five days, like CSU/Long Beach or an extension chapter I worked with all year long, like Clemson, I found myself extremely sad to leave because of those friendships I formed so effortlessly at each chapter. I never realized how easy it would be to make so many new friends in such a short period of time, not mention in such different places all over the country! Forming these friendships definitely made it more difficult to leave, but thank goodness for social media and text messaging these days, which make it so easy to stay in contact.

Needless to say, I had such an amazing experience as an ELC and I can’t begin to thank each and every woman I met during this journey. I am not only a better person because of each of you, but I stand today even more proud to be an Alpha Phi. I not only look forward to using this past experience in the future as a volunteer, but I am also excited to keep up with each of these chapters that hold such a special place in my heart. It’s an extraordinary feeling knowing so many places captured my heart and made me feel so at home. I have taken away so many wonderful things from this experience, but what is most prevalent, are your friendships. I am truly appreciative to all of you for enhancing my experience as not only an ELC, but as an Alpha Phi.
 
Lauren Locke (Gamma Iota-Texas Tech) is a first year Educational Leadership Consultant).

April 18, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Mother's Pin


Mother's Day is just around the corner, and we've got the perfect gift idea! Invite your mom to show her Alpha Phi pride with this unique Mother's Pin from Official Jeweler Herff Jones. This wreath of sterling silver ivy is the perfect addition to her favorite jacket, scarf or handbag. Price is $36.00 and details can be viewed on the Herff Jones website.
 
 
 

April 17, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: Be the Next Martha Foote Crow

 
Unfortunately, women are sometimes stereotyped as shy and quiet. However, in today’s society—where there is so much opportunity for success—it’s dangerous to succumb to this stereotype. As a female university student, you may have hesitated to raise your hand in a room full of male peers—even when you know the answer.
 
I was victim to this stereotype until very recently, but I built closer connections with my professors, made sure I completed the readings and backed up my points with facts in class discussions. Not only did I raise my hand more, but I was also not afraid to speak my mind. I even participated in classroom debates instead of sitting silently.


 I also gained confidence by getting involved with different groups on campus. I chose to affiliate with various women’s rights and activist groups, one of them being the “Because I am a Girl” UofT Chapter, which helped educated me on the state of women, both locally and globally. These experiences pushed me to work harder in all aspects of my life; not only did I realize that I was privileged in many ways, but I realized the potential for global change. These groups allowed me to network with my community and peers. I gave presentations and was able to work with many great individuals. They helped me step out of my shell.

Many researchers say that women who have role models of the same gender can also help to break out of these stereotypes. So that amazing female professor in your science class, or that enthusiastic chapter advisor that you admire; go see them during office hours or meet them for coffee. Ask these women or other women in your lives for guidance and support. Every day is a learning experience, and it’s never too late to start or get involved.

I’m not saying these stereotypes don’t still affect me, but I now know there are ways to build my self-confidence and buffer these effects. Remember that you have a voice and an opinion; don’t silence yourself for fear of public opinion. Remember that you’re an Alpha Phi, and as Alpha Phis we come from generations of strong, independent women who are leaders in academia and the community. Whenever you question your talents and worth, think of our Founders who took such a big step in creating Alpha Phi—and in a male-dominated society, that was no easy task.

Be the next Hattie Florence Chidester Lukens or Martha Emily Foote Crow and be the leader of tomorrow. Stand up for yourself and speak your mind. You’ll be wrong sometimes, but don’t let that stop you. Mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t grow from them.

Sukhe Mann is a collegiate member at University of Toronto (Xi). Learn more about Sukhe by clicking here.

April 14, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: Your Alpha Phi Voice

Within the first semester of my freshman year, I knew Alpha Phi would change my life in many ways. I made a commitment to invest myself in the experiences and opportunities it provided, and I looked forward to giving back to my chapter when I had the chance. As I watched my sisters take leadership roles, I also decided that I was going to serve on the executive council one day, because it seemed  as though that’s what it took to make a huge difference; those nine (or more, depending on your chapter) women were "doers" and that’s what I wanted to be.

Fast forward to my junior year, and I actually don’t hold an executive council position; in fact, I don’t hold a position at all. However, 2014 has been a complete year of growth for me, and my love for Alpha Phi has deepened in a way that it never had before, even when I was “in office.” This year has proven to me that regardless of position, or lack thereof, every single sister in every single chapter has a voice, the ability to make positive changes and the opportunity to be a true leader.

 You have a voice—a strong, loud and intelligent voice. Use it! The executive council officers in every chapter are there to serve as resources, support and structure, but they are not there to limit the chapter. Like any governing system, it’s their goal to listen to the rest of the chapter members and attempt to implement what is best for everyone. Those of us without positions have a responsibility to help those that do; instead of sitting back and watching while they work, we should be encouraging them to look into the issues and areas that are important to the rest of the chapter. If you have an opinion on the changing bylaws or you think the chapter should volunteer at a nursing home instead of at the soup kitchen, chances are someone else probably agrees. Speaking up and having the courage to use your voice comes with great reward. It allows people to think in ways they may not have originally, creates healthy discussion on important chapter topics and leads to people valuing your ideas and opinions.

That voice has the ability to lead to positive changes for your chapter. In a chapter of 100 women, the 30 or so with positions are not the majority. Chapters need the women who aren’t in those roles to serve as committee members, constructive critics and valued support. Although there is something to be said about the women who take leadership roles, there is also a lot to be said about the women who choose not to, and instead act as listeners, cheerleaders or shoulders to cry on when our leaders hit rough spots, struggle with time management or succeed immensely. That is sisterhood; that is Alpha Phi.

For me, something I struggled with was not being in a leadership role this year. I didn’t ever want to be considered a bystander or follower, because that’s just not my personality. I was surprised, however, when my leadership skills expanded greatly this year in ways that I had never imagined. I was introduced to a new kind of leadership that comes in the form of humility and good listening skills, traits that are sometimes hard to develop when there’s a title behind your name. Because I wasn’t always talking, planning or doing big things for my chapter through a position, I was able to notice the more sensitive, smaller and overlooked things that needed to be addressed. Sometimes, that was in the form of a sister who I finally noticed was dealing with personal issues, or sometimes it was the realization that a little new member class bonding goes a long way for chapter morale. It takes a leader to approach those situations and make a positive impact on your sisters’ days.

I want you to know that by simply being an Alpha Phi, you are important and valued. I urge those of you without positions to speak up, be creative and remain leaders. Everyone needs a support system; you are the foundation your chapter needs to stand firm and strong. You matter, you make your chapter better and Alpha Phi is so lucky to have you as a sister.

Cheltzie Miller-Bailey is a collegiate member at Northern Iowa (Epsilon Theta). Learn more about Cheltzie by clicking here.

April 10, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: You Know You're an Alpha Phi When...


As sisters  of Alpha Phi, we know the values that bind us together, but there are also those special “Alpha Phi Moments." You know you're an Alpha Phi when...
  • The Ivy League doesn’t only refer to a collection of elite schools
  • Your wardrobe is filled with red dresses and pearls suddenly become your thing
  • The letters AOE are more than a group of vowels
  • You can’t close your dresser drawers because it is over stuffed with Greek tees and philanthropy shirts
  • You can have an entire conversation about heart health
  • You still struggle with making the ivy sign
  • You have a hole in all of your blouses from your pin
  • You can hear your sisters before you see them
  • You start buying clothing to compliment the all of the silver and bordeaux in your closest
  • You correct people when they call us a sorority and not a fraternity
  • You also correct them when they mispronounce Phi ("Fee") and call it Ph-I ("Fi")
  • Someone gives you a forget-me-not as a graduation send-off
  • Its winter and you're in a white dress
  • It’s February and you know its Heart Health Month
  • Evanston, Illinois is more than just the home of Northwestern
  • You look up at the night sky, see the Ursa Major and know you aren't alone
 
Lo Holman is a collegian at Marquette (Eta Mu). Learn more about Lo by clicking here.
  
 

April 9, 2014

On the Road: On the Same Team

As a consultant, sports conferences have come to actually mean something to me. As an undergraduate of the University of Arizona all I was aware of was the Pac-12—nothing else existed. The past two years of traveling, however, have opened my eyes to the wonders of college sports. While Alpha Phis are very dedicated to their Fraternity, they are also die hard sport fans. NCAA tournaments have become much more exciting to watch because I have personal ties to so many schools. I will always be a Wildcat through and through, but when they’re not playing, I cheer on my favorite Alpha Phi chapter teams!
 
One of the coolest experiences I had this year was being in Tallahassee at Florida State when they won the National Championship. I was with another consultant, Nikki Comer (Beta Gamma-Colorad), at FSU for move-in weekend to their brand new house. The house didn’t have cable yet so we “watched” the game by listening to the cheers, boos and screams we could hear through the window. When FSU won we looked out our window for about an hour—watching students run by cheering and cars drive by honking. I was a proud Seminole that day.
This month, I cheered on my alma mater as they battled in the March Madness tournament. Each year I make a bracket and compete against family and friends. This year I was able to create the most educated bracket choices ever thanks to the many Alpha Phi chapters I visited. 
As my time as a consultant comes to an end I will forever be grateful for the skills I have learned, the friends I have made, and the contagious school spirit. Thank you to the chapters I have visited that have taken me in and made me feel a part of their worlds, whether I was there for three days or three weeks.  I feel like I attended 30+ colleges and I will forever cheer them on in every aspect.
Emily Coulouras (Beta Epsilon-Arizona) is a second-year Educational Leadership Consultant.

April 8, 2014

Zeta Iota Chapter's Dads' Weekend

The spring is always a fun time for the ladies of the Zeta Iota chapter (University of Virginia), but one of our favorite events just occurred this past weekend – Dads’ Weekend! Not only is this event a great time for the sisters, but our fathers always have a blast as well. With 93 dad and daughter pairs, the weekend was an incredible success. 

This year, the first event of the day was a tailgate at the Alpha Phi house before the baseball game on Saturday. Everyone got the chance to pick up this year’s t-shirts (which I had the pleasure of designing), meet some of the other fathers, and enjoy a tasty lunch. Unfortunately, the plans for the rest of the day were slightly thrown off because of the rain, so instead of going to the baseball game, there was the option to go bowling. Despite the fact that some of us hadn’t bowled in years, everyone had a great time, and it was an excellent opportunity to hang out with some of my friends and their fathers. In the late afternoon, there was a reception at a brewery, which naturally appealed to many of the dads. We were able to mingle, enjoy delicious appetizers (and beers for the dads) and listen to a live band, which was a lot of fun! 

Every year, my dad has an awesome time at Dads’ Weekend. He loves any chance to come down and visit me, and I always enjoy showing him around the chapter house and introducing him to my sisters. I don’t usually get the chance to hang out with my dad without my mom or my siblings, so it’s nice to have a weekend for just the two of us. He also loves being able to represent Alpha Phi with the t-shirts we get each year, which is adorable! 

Something that I didn’t realize as a high school student is how much I appreciated getting to know my friends’ parents and families.With my group of friends from high school, I knew everything about their families (how many siblings they have, where they go to school, where their parents are originally from, and so on) but at college, you don’t have many opportunities to get to know your friends’ families. One of my favorite things about Dads’ Weekend is the chance to meet my friends’ fathers (and sometimes moms, if they come too). It’s always funny to see which women resemble their dads, and which qualities and traits come from their fathers. This weekend is not only the chance to bond with your own father, but you get to know your friends better too. My dad also loves getting the chance to meet my friends, and to get to know the people that I live and spend my time with. 
 
Even though it’s a year away, I can’t wait for my dad to come back next spring for Dads’ Weekend!

Lindley Smith is a collegiate member at University of Virginia (Zeta Iota). Learn more about Lindley by clicking here.