September 1, 2015

Watchcare: Home is Where the Heart Is

No matter how excited you may be about college life, even the most independent woman can find herself experiencing homesickness. Moving away from home for either the first time or another year, adjusting to a college workload and setting up a brand new daily routine can take their toll, and sometimes, all you want to do is crawl into your (non-twin XL) bed with a tub of ice cream at home. A lot of women aren’t able to just head home whenever they feel like it, so when you’re missing home, how do you cope?

What is homesickness?

According to Thurber, “homesickness is the distress or impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home.” Almost all people miss one thing or another when they are away from home. This experience is universal and normal. It doesn’t matter if your feelings are intense or mild, you can still be homesick.

What can you do?

1. Know that what you are going through is normal. Changing routines and being away from what you are used to can be difficult.

2. Get more familiar with your campus and community. Take a walk around campus. Find where all the administration and academic buildings are located. Find your professors offices, the tutoring center, the counseling center, and the recreation center to help work out the stress in a healthy way. 

3. Get involved and find a “home” for you on campus. You’ve already found a home in Alpha Phi. Be sure to take advantage of all the activities your chapter has planned for you.

4. Maintain relationships with family and friends at home. Set a reminder on your phone to call or text someone from home once a week.

5. Talk to other sisters or professionals. Don’t be afraid to let people know how you are feeling. They might have been through the same thing and can lend you a listening ear.

6. Keep your thoughts positive! You can get through this!

How do I know if it’s more than homesickness?

Take note of what your feelings look like: Does the feeling last for long periods of time? Are you still going to class, meetings, etc.? Try to decipher what reactions are normal and not normal for yourself. If you think you need assistance, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Seeking guidance from a professional is not uncommon and they can further asses your feelings and help you move forward.

Don’t forget that feeling homesick is normal and most everyone experiences some loneliness. Make sure that you are also thinking about all the positive things your college career holds for you! Remember, you’ve only just begun the year.

Need some more advice or someone to talk to? The Watchcare Support Hotline is there to help! Call them at 800.756.3124. The Watchcare Support Hotline is staffed 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by licensed and trained individuals. The Watchcare Support Hotline is funded by a generous grant from Alpha Phi Foundation.

August 31, 2015

On the Road: Continuing to Learn

I accepted the job offer of becoming an educational leadership consultant with the idea in my head that I was going to become a mentor. I assumed that my time of learning and growing ended last spring when I said goodbye to my chapter, and that now was my time to teach and inspire chapters around North America. Mentally prepared to be an outsider visiting chapters that were nothing like my own, my life packed into a fifty pound suitcase, I ventured out onto the road. I will be honest when I say that I built up emotional walls and doors in preparation for my job.

 I assumed that it had taken me four years to form bonds with my sisters from my chapter, so how would it be physically possible for me to lead a chapter when I was the outsider. I thought my heart was too full of love for my sisters from Beta Gamma for any other chapters to be let in. Upon arriving at the University of Kentucky, it became very apparent that I still had much to learn as a consultant. My first lesson was this: part of growing up is realizing you can learn to love as many people who are willing to love in return. Without question or hesitation Iotu Nu accepted me as one of their own, they listened to my guidance and in turn taught me what team work truly means. As cliché as it may sound they ascended the emotional walls I had put up and made up camp in my heart. These women pushed themselves and me to desire and accomplish more than what people expected of them. They deserve every cheesy word and compliment I could give, and I wish I could put into words for them how they have impacted my life. Not only did they become my sisters and very close friends in a matter of weeks, they also molded me into the leader I wanted to be. One who is kind, compassionate and stern when the time reveals itself. 

I accepted the job offer of becoming an ELC with the idea in my head that I was going to become a mentor. As a mentor here is my note to any woman considering a role as an ELC: it is possible to love a chapter as much as you love your own. #whatteam?

Maddy McCallum (Beta Gamma/Colorado) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Taylor by clicking here.

August 29, 2015

On the Road: Welcome from a Friend’s Home

Working with a chapter that is one of your fellow ELC's alma maters can be a little intimidating. The chapter is prepared to ask you a million questions about their recently graduated friend and your new friend is excited to hear about what has been happening with their chapter since they have left. There is the possibility that you aren't everything that they've imagined you would be.

Those are a few things that make it different, but in many ways a visit to one of these chapters is just the same as the others, if not a little easier. Of course like any college women would, they've already gotten the scoop about you from their friend, so there is no awkward first introductions. The chapter members understand what an ELC is, but most of all they are extremely welcoming and understanding.

I got to stay in Abbey Winkleman's old bed in Salt Lake City, drink her left over coffee, and see the places she knew all too well from her days of living in the Phi. Maybe the best part of traveling to a chapter one of my coworkers came from is that it gave me an excuse to take time from my busy schedule to FaceTime one of my greatest friends. I feel as though I understand Abbey better now that I have experienced her home, and that I'm better prepared to help Beta Sigma grow into their potential since I understand where they have already been.

Dale Hoeffel (Theta Delta/Creighton) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Taylor by clicking here.

August 27, 2015

Alumnae Perspective: A Lifetime of Watchcare

August has always been one of my favorite months – the start of every school year perpetually reminds me of the amazing feeling of reconnecting with sisters. Whether it is reuniting on campus after a long summer, seeing a sister at an alumnae event or simply meeting a sister for dinner, we all can vividly remember a time when we’d literally counted down the month, days, weeks and minutes until we could fall into a hug with an amazing sister from whom we’d been separated entirely too long. 

The shepherding of these precious relationships is a cornerstone of our Watchcare values. As both collegiate and alumnae, we use words like loyalty, support and mutual growth to emphasize our lifelong commitment to safeguard each other from harm. In taking and renewing our membership vows, we take seriously our responsibility to watch out for one another – understanding this responsibility isn’t “just for four years,” but in fact extends “for a lifetime”

No matter how one phrases it, such a promise means simply this: I’ve got your back, and nearly a quarter of a million of other human beings on this planet do too. This everlasting bond means that the relationships you form through Alpha Phi will be some of the greatest and strongest of your lifetime. Even after graduation, your sisters will celebrate you during life’s victories, applauding each as if they were bigger than the last. Your sisters will walk with you, holding you up during the most difficult of moments. These women will be your confidants and your protectors, they will support and challenge you, and they will change your life for the better in immeasurable ways. 

I am living proof of the amazing power of these relationships. On March 1, 2014, my family’s home was severely damaged in a house fire, and my then four-and-a-half year old daughter Ainsley lost nearly all of her clothing, beloved stuffed animals and toys. Within 12 hours of the news reaching my Alpha Phi network, dozens of collegiate and alumnae sisters mobilized into action from every corner of the country. 

Local sisters brought dinner, toys and took Ainsley out to provide her a much needed distraction. Out of state sisters called local wine stores until they found one that would deliver my favorite brand to our hotel, and sent gift cards to local stores. The women of the Delta Mu chapter at Purdue University brought Ainsley a huge Alpha Phi bear with which she could cuddle. Another out of state sister spent seven hours scrolling through my Facebook photos to find a picture of Ainsley’s favorite stuffed horse she had lost, and for which we had no replacement information. This sister remembered that she had seen a picture of this horse nearly three years ago, located the picture, and she and her husband were able to zoom in on the manufacturer. Together with five other sisters, they sent an overnight delivery of this exact horse to our hotel. I will never be able to adequately describe in words how grateful I am to them for an amazing act of love during one of the darkest moments of my life. 

But perhaps the most amazing part of this story is that, contrary to what you might expect, none of these women described here are sisters I knew in college, or even met shortly after college. These are all women I met more than a decade after graduating, and whom I see only once every few years. And yet, when I was in need, they were the first to stand beside me. When I talk about the power of Watchcare – this is what I mean. We have joined a group of women who – regardless of how long they’ve known you – have your back. Today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life. 

As you settle into your fall routine, I challenge you to think about how we as individuals are Alpha Phi’s most powerful Watchcare tools. Our ability to care for and to protect one another extends far beyond whether or not we have excellent risk management practices or responsible social media policies – the greatest acts of Watchcare happen with the seemingly smallest of actions. From helping a sister study or taking a new member to dinner in college to babysitting for a sister’s kids or sending a sister a simple “thinking of you” note when you’re an alumna. Gestures like these matter, as they actively demonstrate our commitment to one another. Reach out to your sisters, both new and old, and ask how you can have their back. You will never know what a difference it can make.

August 24, 2015

Fall 2015 Collegiate Perspective Blogger Application

Are you....  
An avid writer?
Social media savvy?
Passionate about Alpha Phi? 

Then consider applying to be a guest writer for the Collegiate Perspective section of the Alpha Phi International blog.

Our blog features topics ranging from alumnae perspective articles to crafting to general women's awareness pieces. And we'd love to throw your viewpoint into the mix! Document a semester in the life: snap photos, tell about events happening within your chapter or write about topics concerning women. The possibilities are endless, and we want to hear your ideas!

In order to be eligible, you must:
  • Be a collegiate member
  • Be able to write blog posts up to two times a month
  • Be available to write through the end of this semester (Fall 2015)

Interested? Fill out the Alpha Phi Guest Blogger Application below. Please be thoughtful and thorough with your responses. You can view past collegiate perspective pieces by clicking here. We'll be in touch following the deadline regarding the status of your application.

Contact with any questions!

The application deadline is due by September 9th, 2015, by 11:59 PM CST.

August 21, 2015

Featured Product Friday: Alpha Phi Wreath Pillow by Sororitee

While you're gearing up for school order some cute new Alpha Phi pillows from Sororitee to decorate your dorm, apartment or Alpha Phi room with! 

August 17, 2015

On the Road: 21 girls, 13 states, 1 love

21 girls and 11 bunk beds- that is where we ELCs laid our heads every night during training. At the executive office we were assigned to two rooms: one room with four bunk beds and the other with seven. Each morning Abbey Winkleman and I would hit our head on the ceiling, I would sing my roommates a good morning song, and one of us would make the daily stroll to Starbucks to get the essentials before work. I couldn’t wait to get upstairs to see all of the cute outfits everyone was wearing and to start the day with my 20 new best friends. I know what you are thinking…“Taylor you only met them about a week ago”. However, these 20 girls are my people. They each are so different, yet so alike. They are passionate, driven, outgoing, gregarious, courageous, and in my eyes perfect. They put others first and will work to no end to do their job as best as they can. Together we represent 13 states: New York, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey, Arkansas, Washington, South Dakota, Indiana and Utah. Though we may be from all over the map, we all connect on such a special level.

As I sit here and think about all of my wonderful fellow ELCs, I cannot help but smile. I miss Sarah Parker and her “woot woot” noise, I miss Shannon Simpson’s cheese puff toe, Sydney Berger’s contagious laugh, Dale Hoeffel’s twitch sound, and the way Calli Simoneaux masters the art of sass. Courtney Coslor shows us that beautiful things can be said with the shortest words. Abbey Winkleman provides you a sense of comfort in every situation and Kiely Crow is the best person to go grocery shopping with (and is a real life Barbie). Madison Hart is everyone’s crush and rocks a head of hair like no other. If you ever need some words of wisdom (or a ‘how to be great at life’ lesson) Erika Krolosky is your gal. Mary Price will set you straight on anything Texas and Kimberly Arfsten is the friend you want to go out with all the time because she brightens everyone’s’ life. Maddy McCallum will have you pee your pants with her impressions and will warm your heart with her sweet gestures and kind soul. Michelle Dalon is tiny but every bit of her is mighty and Alex Parkinson companionship is one of a kind. For all of us who wish we worked out more or ate healthier- Emily Nickels is your go to girl for some motivation (oh and she may just be humble all at the same time). Jillian Knowles is my version of Beyonce and Katie Dunn’s laugh will make you smile. I miss Lauren Drewnainy’s random dance moves and Talia Saville’s…. well luckily I don’t miss anything because I live with her as we prepare to bring Alpha Phi to Chapel Hill, NC! Our beds are so close we could hold hands while sleeping…thank goodness she is the most impressive person I have ever met and doesn’t mind me sharing everything with her. 

These girls are incredible and the fact they are Alpha Phis just goes to show how amazing our sisterhood is. All of the chapters that these girls are traveling to should feel so fortunate and lucky to have such amazing people visit. I can promise you each ELC takes pride in her work and will do everything in her power to better the overall health of the chapter. She will give it her all and do so with a smile on her face. Whether they are visiting your chapter for recruitment or just a visit in general, know that you are in the best of hands. I know my friends will influence your lives as they have influenced mine only for the better. It also wouldn’t hurt to give her a hug and maybe some food as I am sure they could use the both of these at times. 

I am so proud to be a part of this amazing group of women and I am so thankful to Alpha Phi for showing me the power of vulnerability and following your heart.

Taylor Nelson (Eta Omicron/Virginia Tech) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Taylor by clicking here.