December 23, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: Painting the Town Red

‘Tis the season to start thinking about your next Red Dress Gala!

I had a great time serving as my chapter’s Red Dress Gala Chair for 2014, and I’m excited and proud of the ways in which our event has grown and improved over the past several years. Being a part of the Gala team has introduced me to some important aspects of event planning and marketing; I know from experience that planning a large event can be overwhelming, and I recommend staying on top of things by handling one task at a time. Whether your chapter is planning its first or fifteenth annual event, these are the main responsibilities that you’ll need to accomplish:

Choose a Venue that Suits your Chapter & Campus
The Zeta Omicron Chapter at Johns Hopkins University has been hosting an annual Red Dress Gala for three years now. For the first two years, we held our event each spring in a nearby hotel, and I can understand why; the space that we rented was beautiful, and it was fun to dress up, dance, and leave campus for a night. However, the fact that the venue was off-campus seemed to discourage other students from attending. In planning our 2014 event last spring, we determined that, at Hopkins, an on-campus Red Dress Gala better enabled us to achieve our goal of increased student attendance. When planning your Red Dress Gala, think about the people you’re hoping to attract – Other Greeks? Alumnae? Parents? Other Students? A little bit of everyone? – and choose a venue that will be appealing to your target population.

Think About Event Décor
The amount and type of decorating necessary will depend on your venue, so once you have decided on a space, you can start thinking about how to make the room sparkle. If you are renting or repurposing an upscale venue, some essentials – think tables, chairs, and tablecloths – will probably be included. If you've instead decided to use a campus hall or multipurpose room, you’ll have to put a bit more effort into creating an elegant atmosphere. Last spring, we draped gold fabric and hung twinkle lights to hide less-than-chic bulletin boards and to transform an average room into something more. Don’t forget to think about the details – check Pinterest for cute and simple flower arrangements and centerpieces (in red, naturally) to tie the room together.

Decide How to Contribute to the Alpha Phi Foundation
One of the most satisfying parts of being the Red Dress Gala chair was being able to donate the funds that we raised to the Alpha Phi Foundation after our event. Your Red Dress Gala team should decide how you plan on fundraising – will you be selling tickets? Holding an auction? Doing something else? Our chapter has had success with a silent auction, in which sisters are placed into groups that are responsible for creating a themed basket to be auctioned off during the event. Some favorite baskets have included different types of teas, movies, sporting event tickets, and beauty products. Try contacting local businesses for donations!

Plan, Schedule, & Reserve
Whether your Red Dress Gala is a formal sit down dinner or a buffet, reservations and plans will need to be made for catering, entertainment, and more. Think about fun activities that you’d like to incorporate into your event well in advance to leave yourself enough time to make the necessary arrangements. Our chapter was thrilled with the quality of the food that we had catered, to work with a great DJ, and to rent a photo booth complete with fun props – the pictures made for great souvenirs.

Design Promotional Materials
Now that you have a great event planned, it’s time to advertise it. To publicize our Red Dress Gala, we designed a banner, save-the-dates, and Facebook profile pictures. There are many fun motifs that you can incorporate – red dresses, hearts, and Alpha Phi bordeaux and silver. For our event, I used a gold sparkle and twinkle light theme in both the event decorations and the promotional materials to create a light, whimsical feel. While you’re designing your materials, don’t forget about “thank yous” – along with our save the dates, we also had matching thank you post cards printed to hand out to our attendees and our donors.

From one Red Dress chair to another, I wish everyone the best of luck with their 2015 Galas – I can’t wait to see what everyone puts together.

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

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.

November 19, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: There's Always Something

As the holidays approach, everyone gets a little bit colder, a little more cheerful and a lot more thankful. For some reason, it often takes the holiday season to remind people of what’s important in life — loving and caring for one another, and appreciating all we have. Oh, and pumpkin and peppermint flavored EVERYTHING!

After the recent passing of two Zeta Iota sisters, Casey Schulman and Shelley Goldsmith, our chapter at UVA started a “Thankful 5K” in their honor. It’s a reminder to ourselves, our loved ones and our community to take a moment and reflect on all the things that we are thankful for. This year, more than 600 people ran our race and spread smiles and gratitude around Charlottesville. On each of the runner’s bibs was a place where they could write what they were personally thankful for. Here are some happy things our friends and family are thankful for, a reminder that the world we live in is a wonderful place.

  1. Family: Near and far, relatives, friends that become family and the people who make life easier day in and day out.
  2. Health: We are lucky enough to be able to run a 5K, while some people may not be. The ability to move our legs, pump our arms and take a breath are all blessings many of us take for granted.
  3. Sunny mornings: There’s nothing quite like a bright, happy morning to greet you on a day of cheer, or even one of despair. Each day is a new day; we have to make them count!
  4. New adventures: From college to 5Ks to trips around the globe, we shouldn't take for granted each experience we have!
  5. A home away from home: College is a huge transition for nearly everyone; it’s always nice to know that we have a community surrounding us with abundant resources and people who truly care.
  6. The HOOS (sorry, we are biased here at UVA): WAHOOWA!
  7. Honor: For every tragedy, devastation and disaster our world encounters, there are so many more people fighting for a better tomorrow. One of the main ways we promote activism and sound character in Charlottesville is the standard of Honor.
  8. Chocolate: Need I say more?
  9. A great education: As college students, we are all lucky enough to be able to further our intellect and strive to learn as much about ourselves, our interests and our world as we can to leave every place better than we find it.
    And, of course…
  10. ALPHA PHI: The best sisterhood any of us could ever ask for.

I’m thankful for all of you Phis, near and far. I hope the holiday season gives you time to set aside any sorrows you may have and instead reminds you of all of the great things in your lives.

Much love, and forever thankful.

In memory of C.A.S and M.S.G.

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

November 16, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: Fall Sisterhood Activities

No matter where you live, the second half of fall semester seems to conjure feelings of comfort, warmth, and coziness from coast to coast. This season that exists in between the sandals of August and the sweaters of December is perfect for sisterhood activities that take advantage of both foliage and fireplaces. Here are some fun ways that your chapter can make the most out of fall:

Celebrating Gratitude: Give thanks with your chapter before Thanksgiving break by making a gratitude bulletin board. Before meeting, prepare an assortment of fall shapes – think feathers or leaves – cut out of different colors of cardstock. On individual pieces, have each sister write down something for which she is thankful, and have the chapter share their words one by one. After a sister reads her sentence, she can add her paper to a growing, colorful gratitude bulletin board that can be displayed for the rest of the season.

Decorating Fall Cake Pops: Cake pops are my favorite dessert to make for or with large groups of people because they’re just as fun to create as they are to eat, and they taste delicious regardless of how creative you want to get with decorations. To make, bake a batch of cake – try apple cinnamon or pumpkin flavor – and allow it cool. Crumble and combine the cake with small amounts of frosting – caramel is a great fall choice – until the mixture sticks together, and use your hands roll into bite-sized spheres. In a microwave or fondue pot, heat different colors of chocolate wafers and use the melted chocolate to glue a lollipop stick into ball. After the sticks are cool and solidly in place, dip the cake pops into the melted chocolate, twirl off the excess, and use fun sprinkles, colored sugar, or icing to decorate. Try using a piping bag to draw small ivy leaves and AΦ letters, and bring your creations to chapter meeting as a special treat. 

Organize a “Secret Sister” Gift Exchange: Before winter break, have each sister decorate a gift tag with her name and a few of her favorite things, colors, and designs. Collect all of the tags in a hat or gift bag and then pass the collection around, giving each sister a chance to grab a different tag and receive the identity of her “secret sister” – the special someone for whom she’ll be buying or making a small gift. For a fun twist, encourage the chapter to hand-make their gifts for a personal touch, or set a spending limit to inspire maximum creativity. If a sister is stumped, she can always use the “favorites” on the decorated gift tag as a starting point. 
Sisterhood Letter Painting: Fall is the perfect time to add some new sorority décor to your room or to give your chapter letters a makeover from summer to winter. On the above wooden letters that I painted for a sister last year, I used holiday gold and white and pearl trim for a winter look, while our chapter’s recruitment team recently repainted our lawn letters in festive red and pink.

From the chilly northeast to balmy California, these months are a great time to embrace fall and get a little bit seasonal with your sisters. 

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

November 14, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Lillybee Flats

Slip into these striped ballet flats with bow clips from Lillybee when going to the house for chapter meeting or just headed to the local coffee shop! Featuring Alpha Phi's colors and removable grosgrain ribbon shoe clips.

Price is $74. Click here for details and to purchase.

November 7, 2014

Featured Product Friday: Envy the Ivy Wall Print

Spice up your walls with this Envy the Ivy print from Boutique Greek! With a range of sizes and mat colors available, you're sure to find a combination that fits perfectly in your space. Professionally printed on thick, 68lb satin luster paper for vibrant color and pixel perfect graphics with archival inks.

Price starts at $11.50. Click here for details.

November 5, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: Tutoring Opportunities within Alpha Phi

When you think of a sorority, your thoughts might not jump straight to the academic opportunities it provides. I've encountered more people than I can name who have automatically assumed that I am unintelligent when they find out I’m a “sorority girl” due to the incorrect and often ridiculous stereotypes we are characterized by. Fortunately, I find that us “sorority girls” can usually prove them wrong. Sororities function as organizations that don’t only promote costume parties and philanthropy events, but also strongly stress the importance of academics. 

Academics are the number one priority for all my friends and myself, and being in Alpha Phi has been extremely beneficial for succeeding in school. In the Epsilon Chi chapter, we have a variety of tutoring opportunities and resources for help with all majors and classes. Every year, we create our own personal “Yellow Pages” in a Google Doc, where every member inputs her name, phone number and major. So, if ever I need help in a specific class, I use the list as a resource to find someone who is successful in that field.  Additionally, our Scholarship Chair is always available to set up women with tutors within Alpha Phi using the Yellow Pages.

Another great thing about being in Alpha Phi is the way our chapter holds its members to high academic standards, requiring we all stay above a certain GPA to stay in good standing with the chapter and hold leadership positions on our Executive board. This condition succeeds in reinforcing the importance of our education coming first, especially when it can be so easy to get caught up in the social scene.

We also have a variety of programs within Alpha Phi that reward or benefit girls doing exceptionally well in their classes. One of our favorites is the “A Papers” program, in which girls who get over a 90% on tests or papers can submit a photo, and get recognized with a little treat at the next meeting. During finals week, our Scholarship Chair will also reserve rooms in the library for a quiet study place, and usually brings Scantrons, pencils and Smarties. These activities are a great way to get everyone together to study hard and succeed on their midterms and finals.

Another responsibility of the Scholarship Chair is to put together the Test Files, which is an online account accessible to any member of our chapter. The Test Files contain anything from notes, study guides, and flash cards. These notes are extremely beneficial in studying for upcoming midterms and tests, because they allow for a different perspective than your own notes and are often helpful in explaining concepts from a different point of view. Anyone can add to the Test Files, and I know I have certainly benefited from it!

While I've always been dedicated to succeeding in school, being in Alpha Phi has fostered that commitment in me all over again. When I wear my letters I want to be a role model and show off how amazing my sorority is, and thriving in school is a major part of that.

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

November 3, 2014

On the Road: An ELC Victory Lap

I am writing this blog post from the dining room of our chapter house at Florida State University. Just over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about my first recruitment as an ELC, which ironically was with the Florida State.

I cannot believe that I have been traveling for Alpha Phi for almost a year and a half. The past 16 months have been filled with victories both small and large. For many of my visits it is the anticipation of getting the recruitment returns and setting your alarm for 5:00 a.m. (and then every 30 minutes after that) because you cannot wait for them to be posted. For those recruitment junkies out there, you know there is no better feeling than logging on to ICS and seeing your return rates increase from the previous year. There are the big victories of seeing an amazing new member class on bid day, being with a chapter as they complete their first formal recruitment, or even when members move into their gorgeous new chapter house after years of hard work and anticipation. And then there are the small victories that happen each day; when you are meeting with officers and you see the light bulb go off, and you just know that they are becoming believers. All these instances are good and all impact the chapter.

But, every ELC knows that this job comes with many personal victories too. There is the moment when you realize that you can jump off a plane and walk into a chapter and present in front of 150 people on any given topic. Or when you realize that you have become the best version of yourself and your ability to be independent is your new favorite quality. And, one of my personal favorites: going through airport security is so systematic and routine that the repetition is almost comforting. This job surrounds you with people who have over time become your people: your ELC team, your boss and ELC mentors, collegians and advisors. Being an ELC for Alpha Phi has given more than I could have ever imagined, it is hard to even put it all into words.

But what I can explain is why it is called a victory lap. After your first year has gone by and a new year starts, you begin to really appreciate this job and all it can do for you. In turn you take what you have learned from the previous year and you work even harder to help our chapters succeed. I am so lucky to have been able to travel as a second year ELC, and this year has been nothing short of victorious.

Nikki Comer (Beta Gamma-Colorado) is a second year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Nikki by clicking here.

October 29, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: A Snapshot of ELI

You hear ELI (Emerging Leaders Institute) alumnae tell you all the time what a life-changing experience ELI was, how they met so many people and how those five days made such an impact on their lives.

In the back of your mind, you think that’s great and all, but a part of you doesn't buy it. I mean, what exactly does a “life-changing experience” even entail? Realistically, how impactful could a mere five days have been?

The reason you've probably heard ELI described by a myriad of generically enthusiastic adjectives is… well, it was amazing, but it’s almost impossible to sum it up in words. So, I will try to take you through a snapshot of ELI during, after, and now.

During ELI
You arrive in Indianapolis, unsure of what to expect. You've packed an abundance of letters, but that barely matches your even higher level of anticipation and nerves. Over the next couple of days, you attend workshops that teach you where you stand as a leader, and how to become an even better one. You are surrounded and challenged by incredibly intelligent and driven women that push and empower you, and inspire you to represent Alpha Phi values just as much in everyday life as you would within your chapter. During downtime, you watch sing Frozen together, watch cry over an Oprah documentary and, unknowingly, develop strong bonds on the basis of a shared connection of Alpha Phi. By the end of the five days, you've become part of a whole new chapter, despite geographical differences.

After you go your separate ways, you find yourself immediately reminiscing back on the days at Butler. But ELI doesn't end there. There are the obvious connections that can be made over social media that will always enable you to stay within reach of your ELI session-mates. You’ll always be in the loop about what’s happening in a chapter across the country, and supported in your own endeavors. You may even find yourself reuniting with those in your ELI session at future Alpha Phi events, or even out of the blue at somewhere like Disneyland. The fact remains, you were brought together by Alpha Phi and this connection lasts past the five days at ELI.

ELI may be just a distant memory now, but its lessons remain. It’s about being a representative of values that improve you, as an Alpha Phi and as a person. This includes being an Alpha Phi steward, acknowledging that our fraternity was handed to us after decades of history and that we now hold the responsibility of upholding its legacy. With this come high expectations of improving our fraternity and ourselves, leaving it better than when we arrived.

With all that being said, I strongly suggest you look into ELI applications in the future. Applications for ELI 2015 will be available on the Alpha Phi website December, 2014!

Hellen Pang is a collegiate member at Western University (Theta Eta). Learn more about Hellen by clicking here.

October 27, 2014

On the Road: The 50 Pounds

  • One Alpha Phi Issued Laptop — (which has as many windows running as thoughts I have going through my head)
  • One Personal Bag — (containing everything but the kitchen sink)
  • One Carry On suitcase — (which you hope you will never have to lift because you've packed all your heaviest items in it)
  • One 50 lb Checked Bag — (which is considered your “rolling home”)

View from the plane as Brie was returning to the Executive office
While initially packing I had the same problem that any young twenty-something has—how can I pack everything I want to wear in these bags? These bags will see the inside of many planes, rolling around countless parts of the country and spending time in the trunks of dozens of Alpha Phis’ vehicles.

Channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw, I had to first decide on the shoes. They needed to be comfortable, classic, and able to endure walking around numerous campuses, standing through hours of Polish Week practices and walking around countless recruitment parties. I had pairs that pinched my toes, that rubbed blisters on my heels and that left the bottoms of my feet crying for a rehabilitating pedicure. It then dawned on me that the shoes I bring will be on my feet when the last door chant is done, when we start cleaning up the decorations from the day’s party. It was then that I realized ALL the extra shoes and things I thought I needed weren't going to be necessary. There are three things I continually need to carry to each chapter I go to:

1. A Positive Attitude
Placing a woman in a situation where all circumstances are not ideal will reveal a lot about her character. The most valuable thing to bring on each visit is a positive attitude. When someone picks you up from the airport, a smile is all that is needed to break the ice between two complete strangers who share a common set of values. Regardless of the chapter we come from, we can all find a common ground.

2. A Determination to Achieve Goals
Alpha Phis everywhere should strive for the ability to achieve goals! Goals are what drive our organization to continue to reach new heights. In order to continue to achieve all of our dreams, it takes time and perseverance to take the correct steps. Sometimes the steps are steep and we have to help our sisters up them, and sometimes it’s an easy hike to the top. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t; you’re right!” which helps me continually think I CAN DO IT!

3. A Love for Alpha Phi
This love is the reason all 15 of the ELCs decided to go out on the road. This bond is shared not only between our own collegiate chapters, but also with the members we meet at each chapter we visit. Passion for our sisterhood can drive all of our chapters to do “Phi”nominal things!

The items that are most important to bring on this journey are not physical. The spirit a person brings to the table is what makes them successful in life. This journey as an ELC has helped me realize that the things we pack in our suitcases are not important for us to do our jobs. It is the spirit that we bring along the way that helps Alpha Phi succeed.

Wheels up!

Brie Strimbu (Beta Gamma-Colorado) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Brie by clicking here.

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 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.

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.