Six short months ago, I woke up every morning in an oceanfront home overlooking the beautiful Santa Barbara (UCSB) coastline with twelve of my best friends in Alpha Phi. I now spend every morning waking up with two best friends who are also Alpha Phis (and current ELCs) in a freshman dorm with an exotic view of a swamp at LSU. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I attended Alpha Phi’s 2012 Convention, I heard International President Linda Boland (Gamma Kappa-CSU/Long Beach) announce the Fraternity’s return to LSU the following fall. At that time, I had no idea that I would have the opportunity to be such an integral part of the re-colonization of this amazing chapter. Clueless about what to expect, we set off for Baton Rouge earlier this summer only to be welcomed by the Greek community with open arms and good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality! We recruited 200 founding members through the colonization process and the Delta Tau colony has now grown to over 235 members strong! The women at LSU continue to amaze me every day with what they’ve accomplished in only two short months: winning the homecoming banner contest and placing third in both their homecoming lawn designs and LSU’s coveted step show!
Living in the south has shown me there are definitely regional differences I would have never experienced had I not left my southern California bubble. The Delta Tau women have introduced me to sweet tea, crawfish, jambalaya, beignets, tailgating, CANES (best chicken fingers and special sauce ever!), koozies, croakies and of course, the staple of a Comfort Colors T-Shirt and Norts (Nike shorts). And despite these differences from my collegiate experience, I have come to learn that the Alpha Phi sisterhood is the same everywhere you go, no matter the region.
As I write this, I am currently flying back to Baton Rouge from a class reunion of my own, and I see the same sisterhood I am so lucky to share developing in the Delta Tau colony every day. Whether it’s the snap chats of a group of Phis on their way to the LSU-Bama game, pictures of their “Phi Family Reveal” or just simply hearing them hanging out and laughing uncontrollably outside of our office, I am so proud of these women and cannot wait to see what they accomplish in the future.
Kelly Gandee (Gamma Beta-UC/Santa Barbara) is a first year Educational Leadership Consultant.