December 17, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: Going Greek with Panhellenic Love

When I was a freshman at Cal Poly, I was convinced that I would always be involved with the Executive Board of the Epsilon Chi chapter. I wanted to make a difference in my chapter and be recognized for the contributions and leadership roles I played within my house. This year, however, my mindset changed. When the applications for Cal Poly’s Panhellenic Council, the governing board for sororities, came out, I started wondering, “Could I be a part of something bigger than solely Alpha Phi? Could I make a difference to Greek Life as a whole and focus on the bigger picture?” As the month went on, I became more and more interested in joining Panhellenic and standing up as a leader in the Greek community, and my friends and family encouraged me to follow this interest. Eventually, I applied for Panhellenic Council. The interview was nerve racking and a bit intimidating, and my heart pounded as I sat in front of the entire board, but their obvious enthusiasm made me sure that I was making the right decision. Hours later, I received a phone call offering me the role of Vice President of Communications - the position that I felt was built for me.

I've officially held my position for about two weeks, and already feel the impact that Panhellenic has had and will continue to have on me. I have had the privilege of working with talented and intelligent women from all different sororities - women I most likely wouldn't have met without Panhellenic. It has already opened doors for networking with companies, news agencies and especially school officials. Through my communication with these individuals and organizations I feel that by the end of my term, I will have gained numerous opportunities and a vast array of knowledge that will benefit my professional career in the future.

As VP Communications, it is my job to plan and design Panhellenic's theme for Cal Poly’s Open House, the weekend built to show prospective students all Cal Poly has to offer. At this event, it is our job to effectively show potential new members the beauty of “Going Greek,” and I am so excited to display to these thousands of young women how Greek Life has been such a tremendously positive experience for myself, and how it can be for them as well. Without Panhellenic, I would not have the opportunity to do this on such a large scale.

Being a member of Panhellenic is not always easy. It takes time and effort that is uncompensated except for your own pride, and often it requires an unbiased opinion, which can be difficult when you love something as much as I love Alpha Phi. Formal recruitment in the fall, for example, is a period during which Panhellenic board members must disaffiliate with their chapters, say good-bye to their letters (just for a while!) and be Recruitment Counselors. Disaffiliating can be difficult, as you cannot contact any of your friends in your sorority, but if I can help another woman find what I found when I joined Alpha Phi, it makes it all worthwhile. If we as a board can successfully place over a thousand women into houses that will turn into homes, then we are doing our jobs right, and that is all the reward we need.

The Panhellenic board encompasses women from all chapters, allowing us to be defined as sorority women rather than categorized by each of our individual chapters or houses. Panhellenic is about serving every single woman in every single sorority. It is a board of committed leaders dedicated to improving their communities and the lives of women around them. So Go Greek, and spread some Panhellenic love. 

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

December 12, 2014

Featured Product Friday: The Greek Years PomPom Beanie

Stay warm this winter in this adorable knit pompom beanie from The Greek Years! With Alpha Phi embroidered on the front and four colors to choose from, you can't go wrong!

Price is $21.99. To order click here.

December 5, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Gray Plush Blanket

Cuddle up and keep off the winter chill under this Alpha Phi gray plush blanket! This butter-soft blanket is backed with thick, cozy faux lambswool sherpa and embroidered with Alpha Phi's letters surrounded by a heart, making it a must-have for any dorm room, bedroom, or anywhere that could use a touch of Alpha Phi.

Price is $39.95. Click here for order details.

December 3, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: Social Media: It’s What’s for Breakfast

Upon waking up on a typical morning, before my feet have touched the ground, I have browsed my Instagram feed, scrolled along my Facebook timeline, and sifted through what seems like unending group messages on GroupMe. Social media has infiltrated my life, and probably yours too. In the past year, social media has effectively made its way into my sorority as well, and in the most unexpectedly positive ways.

If you read my last blog post, you’re well aware of the raw excitement that overwhelmed my chapter when we found out we were getting a new house on the eve of recruitment. With the help of our social media chair, Wesley Tomlinson, and our advisors, we were able to channel our new anticipation into an effective recruitment tool. After being given t-shirts with our house design and having an impromptu photo shoot, we ran outside to witness the unveiling of a huge banner plastered across our on-campus house. All of us waited until the go-ahead to post an image created by Wesley across our social media channels at exactly the same time announcing the news to the furthest reaches of the internet. The next day, the last school day before recruitment, every freshmen/PNM had digested a cohesive message presented to them via our Facebook and Instagram accounts. Walking through campus in my t-shirt, hot off the presses, I was congratulated by people I didn't even know on our new house.

The choices to wait to release the news until right before recruitment and to standardize our social media posts were strategic. Working together as a chapter we showcased our solidarity and excitement to our entire community. This approach has been implemented in other areas of our chapter’s activities as well. Leading up to our 2014 Red Dress Gala, Wesley posted a daily countdown featuring photos from last year’s event to our Facebook page. Our sisters eagerly shared and liked these images, spreading the buzz about our philanthropy. By always putting our best foot forward on social media, we are able to circulate positive images of our sisterhood to parents, friends, and our respective communities. With today’s world having an increasing focus on one’s presence on social media, we are always trying to find new ways to enhance how we are perceived, both as a sisterhood and as individuals.

Not only has social media provided an outlet to inform our friends, family, and classmates about our chapter’s events, it has also strengthened our sisterhood in more ways than one. Our chapter utilizes a Tumblr account to post photos of our sisters both home and abroad. We have a private Facebook page chock full of updates and notifications from sisters, whether they be in the library seeking a walk home with a friend or offering an invitation to go skiing. Each class is connected on a GroupMe, which is a group messaging application. These outlets bind us together even when we are apart, creating an excuse to take one too many photos at every event, a format to ask for a ride when you need one, and a forum to post hilarious videos or inspiring articles during the often-grueling hours of the finals grind. On a snowy Saturday one of our sisters living in the house sent a GroupMe that she would be staying in and watching The Proposal in the basement, inviting others to join. My personal favorite GroupMe function has been receiving spontaneous alerts when there are warm cookies in the basement.

It seems like I’m always hearing about how social media is destroying real social ties, I would argue that it has enriched and diversified the bonds between sisters in my chapter and allowed for a purposeful presentation of our sisterhood to our communities. We make the most of our online presence, utilizing it to reach out to our family and friends, to post important information in a centralized place, and, obviously, to share photos of our killer red dresses. That’s something I’m happy to wake up to.

Stella Swartz is a collegiate member at Denver (Iota Xi). Learn more about Stella by clicking here.

November 28, 2014

Featured Product Friday: M&D Sorority Gifts Quarter Zip Pullover

This versatile pullover is great for layering or to wear alone (if you're in a sunshiny climate). It's made of a cotton/spandex blend for comfort and flexibility, and features everyone's favorite: thumb holes!! Alpha Phi letters available in white, black, hot pink, or Bordeaux.
Price is $38.98. Click here for details.

November 21, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Remy & Olive Holiday Sweatshirt

Alpha Phi spirit + holiday spirit = win. Get ready for this season in Remy & Olive's version of the classic crew neck sweatshirt, made of 100% extra soft ring-spun combed cotton, pre-laundered for minimal shrinkage. Comes in navy too!

Price is $39.99. Buy it here. 

November 20, 2014

On The Road: The Experience of a Lifetime

All of our stories begin as nervous potential new members making the big decision on what sorority we will join. At the time, you think you are making a decision that will shape the next four years of college but never really consider that it will be one decision that will change your life. When I was a new member back in 2010, I was very excited to be part of something special. Never in a million years did I think it was going to change my life forever.

Being an ELC is life changing. It’s one of the most unique experiences one can ever have. Spending months at a time living out of a suitcase, visiting chapters all over the country, submerging yourself in many different cultures –  just as it’s starting to feel like home, it’s time to pack up and head to your next stop. Every time you are getting off that plane, it is a new learning experience. A new set of people you will be working with, a new place you will be visiting, a new challenge you will face and a memory that will stick with you forever. It’s a job unlike any other in the world.

People are always asking what we do, where we live, and what made us want to be ELCs. The most common question I get is what my favorite part about being an ELC is. I have found myself giving a different answer each time because I truly can’t explain all of the different things I love about this experience. I love getting to work with so many different chapters. They are all so different from one another yet similar in so many ways. I love working with different types of people and making connections with all of them in one way or another. I love traveling to different parts of the country and experiencing the different cultures, even if it’s just for a few days. I love the sense of pride I get when I give someone my business card and say I work for Alpha Phi International. But most of all, I love being able to help chapters in any way that I can. Whether we are meeting with officers and helping them strategize for the upcoming year, or entering a recruitment list at five in the morning, making any sort of difference is the most rewarding feeling of all.

I never thought that the one decision I made to join Alpha Phi would bring me to where I am today. Alpha Phi has shaped me into the person I am and I am so proud to be an ELC. I have learned more about myself in these past few months than I ever have in my entire life. Being an ELC truly is the experience of a lifetime.

Lissette Meza (Gamma Kappa-CSU Long Beach) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Lissette by clicking here.