February 10, 2016
I was waiting along the curb for my bus’s arrival. It was only seven in the morning, yet it appeared that most Dubliners were already awake and roaming their streets. I tried to hide the fact that my entire body was covered in goose bumps, shivering as a result of the cool, Irish air. My anxiety about the bus’s tardiness didn’t help.
Only moments before I most likely would have panicked, a young blonde girl who looked about my age came up to the elderly couple standing a few feet away from me.
“Are you waiting for the bus that travels through Wicklow?” the girl asked.
The couple nodded and the girl released a sigh of relief. I did as well. No matter what were to happen with our bus, at least the four of us would be in the same situation.
The bus finally arrived and I was one of the first to board. The girl followed not far behind and took the seat beside me. It didn’t take long for us to make the leap from strangers to friends. I think that can be attributed to the fact that some of the first words she spoke to me were, “Oh! So, you’re an Alpha Phi?”
Now, I was wearing a red, long sleeved t-shirt with Alpha Phi written on the front of my left shoulder, which was hardly visible with my black North Face jacket on top. Shelby, as I would later learn, was not an Alpha Phi – she was a Delta Gamma from a school in the west and somehow, still, that was enough common ground.
That day we stuck together, and our conversations were never lacking. We spoke about our separate adventures throughout the summer and our different lives back in the states. We spoke about our big sisters, the university life and the various events – social and philanthropic – that our two organizations orchestrate.
At the conclusion of that day, the two of us stepped off our bus and bid farewell to one another. While I knew I would probably never see her again, on my walk back to my apartment at Trinity College, I realized something.
By being Greek, and by being an Alpha Phi, my world, our world, becomes that much smaller.
Over the course of my summer in Ireland, one of the better friends that I made and spent the most time with was an Alpha Epsilon Phi. Halfway through my summer, in a small pub in the countryside town of Doolin, I met another Alpha Phi who was touring the country with her parents. And then lastly, days before my final departure, I met my Delta Gamma friend.
Of course, we’ll always have our Alpha Phi sisters. But if there’s one thing that all women involved in Greek organizations understand, no matter our distinct characteristics, it’s sisterhood. It’s an element that unites us whether we realize it or not – an instant connection that exists beyond the walls of our various chapter rooms.
For me, that brings a realization that no matter how much “on my own” I believe myself to be, I am not necessarily on my own. On a different continent, in different country, in another time zone, I encountered three pieces of home that made this foreign land a little less frightening.
Christina Castle is a collegiate member at George Mason University (Eta Lambda). To learn more about Christina, click here.
January 30, 2016
As a planner (heck, I plan for a living), I always think of things in a calendar year: birthdays, holidays, board meetings, conferences, etc. So, it’s not a shock that my Alpha Phi volunteer experience also revolves around planning: recruitments, initiations, conventions, officer transitions and of course…Leadership Conferences! LC’s as they are now known, are one of my favorite Alpha Phi times of the year, and I look forward to the next one from the minute that the current one finishes.
Personally, Leadership Conference is the best time for me to connect with my sisters that I unfortunately don’t get to see often enough. Back when we were in regions, I would pile in a minivan with my Canadian contingent and drive down to Ohio (or wherever the Upper Midwest was holding conference that year) in a car caravan across the border, and the drive itself was a big part of the fun! We’d be so excited to see all of the officers and advisors from our chapters and know we were in for a Phi-nominal weekend. The drive home was equally exciting (albeit with a bit more fatigue after the weekend of fun) with new ideas that we’d hash out and formulate plans to bring everything to fruition.
Fast forward to the current structure, and I am now hopping on a plane to the Eastern Leadership Conference in New Jersey (thank goodness for my Nexus!). Now, I get to see new chapters that I work with and new friends. But, the feeling is exactly the same. I just can’t wait to see what my friends and our chapters are up to; and, getting the chance to learn, share and celebrate their achievements. The weekend always reinvigorates me, inspires me and motivates me to keep volunteering. It shows me how amazing Alpha Phi is and reminds me why I stay involved.
So, whether you are a collegian who is about to experience your first Leadership Conference or a volunteer who has been to so many that you lost count, the Alpha Phi bond ties us all strongly together during the month of February. It is so strong that when I couldn’t travel in 2014 when I was pregnant with my twins, I actually felt withdrawal the weekend the East Quadrant was meeting. And, I like to think that my sisters missed me that year too.
Or did they just miss the Canadian chocolate I usually bring down in my carry-on???
Alumnae Author: Alison Nash (Xi-Toronto)
January 29, 2016
It’s almost the end of January, so it’s time to check in with our New Year’s Resolutions. Once we establish our 2016 goals, we are motivated and inspired—we wake up earlier, drink lots of water, take off our makeup before bed, and work towards those six-pack abs. Then all of the sudden, college starts back up and the resolution to work out five times a week and eat less take-out has become a mere memory…
In my first semester of college, I developed a new mindset where I focused more on academics and socializing than on my mental and physical health. I stopped monitoring the late night snacks I scavenged for, and my only exercise was the 10-minute walk to class. For someone who lived a very active lifestyle with ballet, this new way of living felt somewhat freeing, but it also resulted in a battle with my body. I convinced myself I was too busy to care about my overall health. We all hear about the “freshman fifteen” and “academics come first” has been hammered into our brains since grade school. But there must be a balance between our work lives and our overall well-being. Here are a few guidelines that work best for me, even in the busiest of times.
- Lay Down Some Realistic Goals -
What I’ve discovered in my first year of college is that setting a realistic goal looks different for each person. Whether it’s about eating certain foods, working out for a certain amount of time, or sleeping more, we have to consider our daily schedule and priorities. Overloaded with Pinterest articles and photos, we too often create goals that may be extremely difficult given our college lives. To stay positive and motivated, it’s best to tailor our goals to who we are as individuals.
- Visually Strategize Your Plans -
With so much going on in our brains it’s nearly impossible to remember everything we think of. Take a seat and grab a planner; I find it’s one of the best ways to keep track of the chaos. I use two planners—one for everyday things like work and deadlines, and one for workout routines and health goals. By using both calendars I can see which time slots are best to pencil in a workout. The health planner is a great way to create good habits, plan workouts ahead of time, and remind ourselves of our coveted goals. By visually looking at our schedule, we will feel in control of our time, confident in our execution, and happy we achieved a balance.
- Go Easy on Yourself -
One person can’t do everything. You are allowed to relax and take a deep breath. I’m always bouncing from priority to priority, but by taking a break and spending quality time with my sisters, I’ve been able to find a balance that allows me to be ambitious in both my academics and my health. Health and wellness do not only come in the form of cardio and sweat; they can also be achieved in taking a walk with a good friend or going to brunch with your sisters. We are all busy striving for the highest ideals, but there will always be time to be kind to our minds and bodies.
Caitie Santo is a collegiate member at Butler University (Epsilon Beta).
January 27, 2016
Where are you originally from? I was actually born in Miami but my family moved to Ocala, Florida when I was in Elementary school.
Where did you attend college and what chapter were you a part of there? Florida State – Gamma Phi
What was your major in college? Retail Merchandising and Product Development with a minor in Business
What was your plan post-graduation? During my senior year I knew post graduation I had a job as an ELC, but afterward I wanted to find a career in marketing or buying.
Why did you decide to work for Alpha Phi International Fraternity? I have always been very involved in Alpha Phi, having already worked for Alpha Phi once I knew I would someday want to return. After seeing a position open in the Extension department I knew this was my opportunity!
What is your job title? Program Coordinator of Collegiate Extension
How long have you been working for Alpha Phi? I traveled as an ELC from 2012-2013, and now have been in my new position since January 2016.
What is your favorite memory of Alpha Phi—as a collegian, alumna, or staff member? My favorite memory was FSU’s first formal recruitment. Seeing the success of the chapter and how much we had grown in just a year was such a rewarding experience.
What do you like best about working at the Executive Office/What drew you to work at the Executive Office? I love being able to use my personal experience as a charter member and my ELC experience, working with our newest chapters and colonies to help them be successful.
What are some of your goals for the next few years? Professionally I want to network with even more volunteers and collegians and provide support for our newest chapters. Personally, I really want to train for a half marathon… even though I am not a runner at all!
Do you have any advice for current collegiate members? Enjoy college and live in the moment! You are only in college once so make great memories you won’t forget. Seniors, don’t try and hurry through senior year just to get to the real world. It will come, but enjoy the rest of college while you can.
January 26, 2016
January 25, 2016
Caitie Santo (Epsilon Beta-Butler University) Caitie is a sophomore at Butler University studying strategic communications and arts management. She currently serves the Epsilon Beta chapter as director of continuous open bidding and a member on the philanthropy committee. Caitie is also involved in the arts management organization as vice president of professional development, teaches dance with the Butler Community Arts School, and in her free time, tries to finish her cardio workout without passing out. Caitie is very enthusiastic about mochas, Instagram, adventuring, and taking dance classes.
Christina Castle (Eta Lambda - George Mason University) Christina is a junior at George Mason University studying English with a concentration in writing and rhetoric. Within her chapter, Christina has served as the director of community service and has been an active participant of multiple Alpha Phi intramural teams. Outside of Alpha Phi, Christina is a member of George Mason’s Center for Global Education’s “Abroad Squad” and works to spread the word across campus about the invaluable experiences that can be attained through studying abroad. She spent this past summer studying in Ireland and her longing to see more of the world has been insatiable ever since. She is a born and bred Washingtonian (D.C.) and in her free time loves to read, write, and venture around one of her favorite cities.
Tatum Pugh (Omicron - University of Missouri) Tatum is a freshman at the University of Missouri studying strategic communications with an emphasis on public relations and a minor in textile and apparel management. Within Alpha Phi, she serves on the social media team as head of all of the chapter’s social media accounts. In the coming years, Tatum hopes to become more and more involved within her chapter and eventually serve on the executive board. Tatum also has a passion for traveling and hopes to study abroad at some point during her time at Mizzou. In her free time, she loves to cook, binge watch Grey’s Anatomy, and spend time with her best friends.
January 22, 2016
Where are you originally from? Pelham, NH, but currently residing in Boston
Where did you attend college and what chapter were you a part of there? Syracuse/Alpha
What was your major in college? Communication Sciences and Disorders
What was your plan post-graduation? My senior year of college I had a scary realization that I did not want to work in my degree field (sorry mom and dad!). I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I loved Alpha Phi and my involvement as an undergrad, so I applied to be an ELC. I traveled as an ELC for the 2013-2014 year and loved it! After my term as an ELC, I worked as a Corporate Recruiter for almost two years until my return to Alpha Phi.
Why did you decide to work for Alpha Phi International Fraternity? After working as an ELC, I began volunteering at a few collegiate chapters in my free time. Ultimately, I realized my passion was in the higher education space, specifically with Greek organizations. This position will allow me to work with new chapters in a variety of areas.
What is your job title? Program Manager of New Chapter Development
How long have you been working for Alpha Phi? I worked as an ELC during the 2013-2014 academic year, and returned in January 2016
What is your favorite memory of Alpha Phi—as a collegian, alumna, or staff member? There are so many to choose from! I'd say, the friendships and memories formed with my ELC team. They are my best friends! Also, working closely with our young Creighton chapter as an ELC and watching their growth and success was amazing.
What do you like best about working at the Executive Office/What drew you to work at the Executive Office? The people! While I will be primarily working remote from Boston, I love visiting the EO and catching up with the local staff.
What are some of your goals for the next few years? Visit every state (only 14 to go!), develop in my career at Alpha Phi, create a lasting, positive impression on new chapters, find a new hobby
Do you have any advice for current collegiate members? Enjoy every second and get as involved as possible! After graduation, join alumnae groups and volunteer! Working with a collegiate chapter as a volunteer is incredibly fulfilling and worth every second.