October 24, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Dixie Tea Tumbler by Oh Yeaus

 Take your beverages on the go in this super cute, mason jar-inspired design! This 28 oz. tumbler is made out of Eastman Tritan, which is a very durable material that won't break. Fill it with iced coffee and you're good to go for the day!

Price is $17.95. Click here to order.

October 23, 2014

On the Road: It Won’t Always Be Easy, BUT It Will Be Worth It

After traveling as an ELC for over two months now, my experiences have been vast, fast-paced and exciting! I’ve become a professional airport navigator (self-proclaimed), packing wizard, Excel expert and can pair anything in my suitcase to make an outfit suitable to wear in the pesky month of October (where it feels like winter in Ohio and summer in Alabama). Although, I still can’t seem to get the hang of what time zone I’m in…but hey, greatness takes time!

No amount of training or preparation for this job can fully show you what it’s like; you begin to truly find out once you’re on the road yourself. It really is a job unlike any other, and I’m beyond thankful for this amazing opportunity. 

I could probably craft a (not-so-well-written) novel explaining all that I’ve seen and done since I embarked on the first part of my journey at the Executive Office in July. But to quote a popular Internet sensation… “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” 

So instead, I thought I would share some honest observations for future ELCs; some things that will be good to know. (Side note: If you’ve ever been an ELC, or are currently an ELC, I hope you feel the urge to shout “YES!” upon completion of reading this list.)

1. It will NEVER be easy to explain where you live. Or really… don’t live. No matter how many times you try to explain it to the person sitting next to you on your third flight of the day, a response like “out of my two suitcases” only welcomes more confused smiles, nods, and questions. Hang in there!
2. It will not always be easy to explain your job. To your parents, old roommates, boyfriend, friends from home or estranged relatives that you only see during the holidays. YES, it is a “real” job. YES, I get paid to do this. NO, this is not a “victory lap.” NO, my job title is not “professional sorority woman.” Create your elevator speech explaining what an ELC is and does, and stick to it!
3. It will not be easy to understand or comprehend regional trends. Do not try to do so. They are quirky and baffling to an “outsider,” such as an ELC. Oh, you don’t get why my Comfort Colors frocket (frat-pocket) is so oversized that you can’t see my Norts (Nike shorts)? Welcome to the South! Chaco’s, Hawaiian flip flops, Patagonia, flower headbands, tennis skirts…the list goes on. Stick to your snappy casual and you’ll be golden!
4. It will not be easy to get up at 3:00 a.m. after Formal Recruitment is finally over and catch a ride to the nearest airport, which is an hour away, to begin your travel day across North America. Make sure to drive-thru a Starbucks and get that sleepy collegian and yourself two lattes, catch a few zzz’s on the plane, and step out of that airport ready to conquer your next adventure!
5. It will not be easy to sit through a Preference Ceremony that mirrors your own collegiate chapters. Every time the member playing the guitar starts “Never Alone” and you see the water works happening all around, you might not be able to help yourself. You’ll probably smile because you realize you feel so at home with these women, where ever you may be, while still aching for a hug from your little. It’s comforting to know that Alpha Phi feels like home – no matter where you are.

It won’t always be easy, BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT. I can promise you that. Being an ELC is one of the most rewarding jobs ever. Although there can be tough times (your entire Excel document crashing 30 minutes before you need it) and sleepless nights (wait… what is sleep during Recruitment season?), seeing the lasting, positive impression you can make on a chapter and its members in such a short time is the most gratifying feeling in the world.

I know I leave each chapter I visit as ELC changed, and I’m thankful that each chapter is also changing me. What could be worth more than that?

Mindi Grewell (Iota Nu-Kentucky) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Mindi by clicking here.

October 22, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: The Happiest Kind of Tears

I’d like to preface this post by letting you know that I don’t cry. I've made it through The Titanic, Marley & Me, even The Notebook without one glistening tear. I have come to look at the world in a logical way, and lost touch with a bit of my emotional side in the process.

Now, to my story. I live in the Alpha Phi house at my school, a reimagined apartment building. What it lacks in character it makes up for in utility: we are located in the heart of campus, have our own kitchens and enjoy an amazing front lawn. The establishment is certainly not the typical sorority house, but to us, it is home.

Moving in on my first day back to school this year couldn't have been more different than move-in day freshman year. My roommates and I dove headfirst into a seven hour workday of painting the walls, getting a crash course in just how difficult taping off ceilings and getting the corners really can be. It was an afternoon of hysterical laughter, recounting our summers and planning out future adventures for the coming year. It wasn't like moving into an anonymous dorm with 500 strangers as neighbors, it was moving into a home with 47 sisters to call when I run out of coffee creamer or need to go on a spontaneous sushi binge.

Fast forward a month to two days before recruitment. We were having a meeting in the basement with the advisors, huddled around our TV. They had cameras trained on us, and told us we would be watching a video. I thought it was somewhat odd that they were filming us, but with the lack of sleep I had been getting due to the coupled excitement and anxiety of recruitment being 48 hours away, I didn't have the brain capacity to put together what was about to happen.

The video started off with pictures from our first chapter meetings. They were held in a classroom in one of the campus buildings. The Iota Xi chapter of Alpha Phi was installed at DU in 2010, so we are still a relatively new chapter. We giggled at the images, thinking about how far we have come since then. I looked around at our basement – this small, cozy space we share – and had never loved it more. The video progressed and started showing pictures of Alpha Phi houses across the nation. Goosebumps shot across my body and as I looked out at my sisters and saw that we were all shaking with anticipation, I knew that the feeling was mutual. This was the moment our chapter had been waiting on for years – was it really about to happen? Finally, the screen displayed an architectural drawing of an Alpha Phi house and announced to us that we would have a new home at DU come Fall 2016.

A surge of emotion that had been building in the room since the start of the video burst out into screams, cries, and laughter. Our advisors were wiping tears away, trying to capture the moment on film. I can tell you now that there is no way the footage could do it justice.

Our apartments, which we lovingly refer to as “Chilltop,” are our home. The memories that each year has brought – candy apple making in the basement, Sex in the City marathons on the couch – can never be erased. However, the moment that our chapter learned we were getting a new house, a real house, was a moment that represented to us all just how far our sisterhood has come in the years since our installation. Being a part of a sorority is not only about enjoying the immediate benefits, but also about getting to watch the chapter grow and mold its development for future initiates.

As I sat there in the midst of so many incredible, beautiful, genuine women whom I get to call my sisters, basking in the advent of getting a brand new home together, I did something that I don’t do: I cried.

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

October 19, 2014

On the Road: 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. Alumnae, collegians, and volunteers are all welcome to enter!

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

On the Road: 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.

Collegiate Perspective: 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.