October 19, 2014

More Similarities Than Differences

One of the most frequently asked questions I get on the road is, “What are the other chapters like that you've visited?” When answering, I usually explain the college campus culture, show a photo of a beautiful chapter house or admit how I fell in love with recruitment skits.
However, I've learned every Alpha Phi chapter has more similarities than differences. From the outside, we look different – 50 members compared to 300, big houses and small houses, the USA and Canada, football and basketball fans, the beach and the mountains, and my personal favorite: tennis skirts or leggings. Yet, from the inside, we are one organization that gives women the opportunity to become lifelong friends and sisters with those who share their values. There is a not one single value that defines us, but rather many, creating an irreplaceable support system intertwined with love, humor, and wisdom. These similarities make me immediately feel at home at every chapter I visit as an ELC, and make it that much harder to say goodbye at the end of each visit. These similarities make me feel like I have the best job in the world – helping my sisters grow as an organization and as individuals. What better privilege is there than that?

So here’s my answer to the question I've been asked countless times:

While each chapter has its own nuances that make it unique, the best part about every chapter is what we have in common: our love for Alpha Phi. This similarity bonds all 190,000 of us together, and makes every new chapter I go to a place where I leave a piece of my heart, a place I call home.

Tasha Fitts (Iota Xi-Denver) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Tasha by clicking here.

October 17, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Gold Bar Necklace by E. Ria Designs

This beautiful necklace features an engravable back for a special date, set of coordinates, or phrase! The bar, measuring 1.5" x .25" approximately, is made of 14 karat gold filled metal and is brushed lightly for a shimmery finish.

Price is $46. Click here for details.

Alpha Phi Pumpkin Carving Contest!

Show us your Halloween spirit and participate in our Pumpkin Carving Contest! We've got contest details right here:

Designs may be Alpha Phi themed, but it is not required so get creative!

Send your name, chapter affiliation, and a photo of your pumpkin to lphillips@alphaphi.org. Please include "Pumpkin Carving Contest" in the subject line.

Submissions are due by Sunday, October 26th at noon.

Designs will be posted in a Facebook album on Monday, October 27th, and may be voted on through October 30th. The photo with the most likes will be announced on Halloween!

We can't wait to see your photos, so get carving!

October 15, 2014

A First Time for Everything

My journey as an educational leadership consultant has given me many “firsts.” This is my first “real world” job since graduating from college in May, and this is the first time I’ve been away from home. I’ve been able to experience and learn new things for the first time with my ELC team like going to a Cubs game and enjoying the famous Lou Malnati’s pizza at the Executive Office. The greatest of them all is that I have been given the opportunity to bring many new “firsts” to a special group of women at Iowa State University.

Since August, I have been at Iowa State University to recolonize the Zeta Delta chapter of Alpha Phi. When I arrived on campus, I had no idea what the future colony would be like. Stephanie Tripi, my fellow ELC at Iowa State, and I have been learning many things together for the first time. From learning about campus culture to mastering the Cyride bus schedule, we get to have fun while doing it together!

After many weeks of preparation, marketing, recruitment events and meeting wonderful people on campus, I am able to share and experience many more firsts with our charter members. I get to help them experience Greek life, sisterhood and Alpha Phi traditions. Being a founding member of an Alpha Phi chapter is a new and unique opportunity for these women and I love being able to help them have a special and memorable experience. It is amazing to watch them create traditions together that will stay with Zeta Delta for years to come.

I will never forget seeing the pure joy as the colony members took pictures while linking their hands in the ivy symbol for the first time after receiving their bids. Seeing their faces beam with excitement as they ran through the Campanile on their very first Bid Day, to their enthusiasm and eagerness at the first colony meeting, it has been the biggest reminder of why I love this job. I am so blessed with the ability to help bring the wonderful gift of Alpha Phi into their lives.

So far, my time as an ELC has given me many moments that I will cherish forever. I am thankful to have shared these experiences with my Alpha Phi sisters and ELC team. There are many more “firsts” I will experience in life, but I know I will never have to experience them alone because I have a group of sisters that will gladly share in them with me.

Megan Eckerle (Zeta Psi-Dayton) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Megan by clicking here.

Phi Family

I've always had a tight-knit family, so when I got to college, I worried that being away from my parents and sister would leave me feeling unsupported and alone. Granted, like most young women entering college, I did feel isolated and insecure during the transitional period. What ends up making all those experiences different, though, is how each woman copes. Luckily for me, Alpha Phi introduced me to a family away from my own that fills the void and embraces me; I imagine many Phis across the nation feel the same way about their chapters and the communities they provide. 

My favorite part about being in a sorority is the figurative and literal family it provides. Ever stop to think how brilliant the big/little system is? Having a big gives every member some special connections within their chapter, while also providing a mentor that has been through many things the little will go through in the future. I find it incredibly helpful and rewarding to have a big, grand big, and great grand big that can provide insight, support, and friendship. 

In my experience though, the most important part of the relationship is remembering that it’s just that: a relationship. Sometimes I forget my big is my big because she has become my best friend. While I love the concept of bigs and littles, I think they work best when we forget about the label.

I remember meeting my big, Emily, last January on Bid Day while dancing next to each other in our house to celebrate; we hit it off immediately and became fast friends. Since then, we've both been through the ringer, dealing with incredibly personal and trying times, but never leaving each other’s side. I've learned so much about the person I want to be from her and gained a life long friend in the process.  I think we would have been close friends whether or not she was my big, but the fact that I can say “she’s in my family” just feels so appropriate; Emily is my family. 

Also, as many know, Charlottesville has been through a scary time this autumn with the tragedy regarding one of our students, Hannah Graham. Dealing with this personal loss on grounds, but also the global issue of safety and the dangers in the world surely makes a community miss their families back home. I’m lucky enough to say that having Emily at UVA with me through it all has made a huge difference; it’s comforting to have someone always looking out for you. 

Remember the big/little relationship is, at its core, a system of support, mentorship, friendship and family. Think of ways that you can emphasize those aspects of your relationship, and it will most certainly reward you. Shoot your little a text and tell her you’re thinking of her and looking out for her. Maybe your big, who is searching for jobs in the “real world,” is stressed and could use a pick-me-up. You will get out of it what you put into it, just like any friendship. However, I can say from experience that investing in your relationship with your big or little can truly show you how spectacular this type of friendship can be.

Lauren Yevak is a collegiate member at Virginia (Zeta Iota). Learn more about Lauren by clicking here.

October 10, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Alpha Phi Anorak by Greek Gear

Stay cozy and dry in this Alpha Phi Anorak by Greek Gear! This wind and water resistant nylon jacket comes in maroon or black and white. The Alpha Phi crest is positioned on the top left side above your heart. The zipper extended up past your chin to give you added security from rainy, windy weather!

Price is $44.95. Click here for details.

October 8, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: I Never Thought I’d Go Greek

Going into college, I thought I wouldn't join a sorority. It wasn't that I saw anything wrong with Greek Life organizations or the young women who chose to go through recruitment; I just felt it wasn't for me in the same way that I knew I would never join the volleyball team (incapable of serving over the net) or pursue a career as an astronaut (terrible night vision / scared of accidentally being left on the moon).

That’s actually a common sentiment here at Johns Hopkins, a campus where Greek Life is vibrant but moderately sized, where sororities have “meeting rooms” but not houses and where approximately 25% of our 6,000 undergraduates are involved in a social, professional, service or multicultural fraternity or sorority. In my years here, I've spoken to many women who admit that they entered college with certain negative preconceptions about what Greek Life entailed, and that only upon living on campus and interacting with women from different sororities did they change their minds.

As for me: I came around slowly. I’m grateful for the upperclassmen leaders, scholars and athletes who showed me that Greek affiliation wouldn't limit my ability to succeed but would give me new opportunities. I’m grateful for my friends who registered for formal recruitment and – though I waited until the last possible minute – encouraged me to do the same. I’m grateful for my school’s tradition of deferred recruitment, which gave me a semester to settle in and open my mind to the possibility of sorority life after years of indifference.

On the last night before registration ended, I filled out a form with my name and background information… just so that I’d have the option of going through recruitment if I felt inclined. Over my freshman year winter break, I quietly bought a white dress… just in case I might need it. On a cold morning in February, I lined up with the rest of my Rho Gamma group and prepared for a day of Ice Water parties… but I told myself that I could drop out whenever I wanted.

That moment – the one where I would drop out and never look back – never came, and over a week of clapping and singing and heels, I found myself increasingly enthusiastic about Greek Life, and especially about Alpha Phi, the place where I always felt most at home. The white dress that I bought ended up getting a lot of use that semester, at Bid Day and then later at Initiation, though by then I could barely remember a time when I didn't want to be a part of this organization that had already given me so much.

If I had to give advice to a first-year student who feels the way that I once did, I would tell her that being a part of Alpha Phi has provided a network and an ever-opening circle of people that you become close to; never closing or limiting it. I would tell her that when I’m stuck in the library late at night struggling to finish a problem set, or looking for a study group before a big exam, or even just looking for advice on good classes to choose, my sisters are always there to help. I would tell her that joining Alpha Phi was one of the best decisions I've made in college so far – and that I hope to see her during recruitment.

Alexa Curto is a collegiate member at Johns Hopkins (Zeta Omicron). Learn more about Alexa by clicking here.

October 6, 2014

On The Road: Common Characteristics

At every chapter I visit, women always ask how their chapter is different from everyone else’s. I always have to pause and think about my answer.

It’s true that each chapter has its own personality, that each facility is beautiful and that every member has something new to share. What I never expected to realize is that every chapter I have visited so far is actually very similar. True, our ritual and the values we uphold are the same throughout North America, but there is so much more to it.

All of the Alpha Phis I have met on my journey are women who value a sense of humor and who love to laugh. Even before I left to start traveling, I saw this trait in my fellow ELCs – just ask any of them what it’s like to live with Mindi Grewel or Stephanie Scott and they will tell you they are laughing themselves to tears on a daily basis. I have experienced so many side-splitting moments during the crazy days of recruitment.

In addition to their love for laughter, Alpha Phis are some of the most caring people you will ever meet. During my first visit to the University of Alabama (Beta Mu), I thought it was simply southern hospitality. It turns out Alpha Phis from everywhere put no limits on what they would do for a sister. Genuine love for Alpha Phi and for each sister has made me want to join Alpha Phi again week after week, and I can tell you I have never been homesick because I have always felt at home.

I am constantly inspired by the hardworking and driven women I meet on the road. Alumnae volunteers have served as great role models for me and I have learned so much from them. The collegiate members motivate me to challenge myself every day, and I know I will end my time as an ELC with close friends as well as an experience that has prepared me for whatever my future holds.

The most unexpected part of my job was that I have made such deep connections to women in chapters of all sizes and from such different parts of North America. I’ve realized that although our personalities change from chapter to chapter and member to member, fundamentally we are all thoughtful and driven women who just wanted a place to call home.

Gina Forneris (Iota-Wisconsin) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Gina by clicking here.

October 1, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: Not Four Years, But for Life

As my college career rapidly approaches its finale and the future looms in the distance, I’ve been forced to start thinking about what some would call “real life.” For almost 21 years, every step of my life has been obvious: elementary school, then middle school, then high school then college. For almost 21 years, every year has been just another class, another teacher and another summer. But now, I am at a loss. In two short years, I will graduate college: the last clear step on my path. From there, it is completely up to me – and likewise for most of you – to actively pursue a path that will be all my own. For some, this may be an easy choice: maybe that next step is graduate school or a job offer. For others, that next step is still quite unknown. Either way, every sister of Alpha Phi should rest easy knowing that taking care of our sisters is a lifelong promise.

Being a part of Alpha Phi means you are in the company of strong, independent women who seek to change, inspire and thrive. Here at the Epsilon Chi chapter, I am surrounded by women who are both academically inclined and socially competent, whom I look up to for their drive, leadership and strength. And in each of your own chapters, I am sure you will find similar women and mentors.

This year, Alpha Phi International announced the Leadership Fellows Program, an annual program designed for upperclassmen to learn firsthand what it takes to be successful businesswomen. The women who are chosen to attend this development program are those who show leadership potential, but it is an experience that will benefit them for a lifetime. Epsilon Chi’s Chapter President, Bryce Gassner, attended the first ever Leadership Fellows Program this summer, and came back excited to share all she had learned. Additionally, Alpha Phi offers the Chapter Leadership Development (CLD) and Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) programs to further the lifelong personal growth of each of our members. These prestigious programs impart wisdom that will benefit each attendee in her professional career.

Alpha Phi Foundation also supports lifetime membership with the Forget Me Not Fund, which donates over $100,000 annually to alumnae who are in financial distress from urgent or serious situations Knowing that we are dedicated to ensuring the lifelong safety and happiness of our members gives me such pride in our organization.

Through my Alpha Phi experience, I have met women who I know will still be my best friends 25 years from now. They will be my bridesmaids and my babysitters; they will pick me up when I fall down, and they will do it with a smile on their faces. They are the women I’ve met during these four years, and they are the women who will be my sisters for life.

Claire Lindsey is a collegiate member at Cal Poly (Epsilon Chi). Learn more about Claire by clicking here.