May 2, 2014

On the Road: Watching a Chapter Come to Life

It’s hard to believe that just nine months ago, I found out that my ELC journey would be starting off with a bang in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The task, at first, seemed a little intimidating. I was thrilled at the opportunity to play a role in the re-colonization of the Delta Tau chapter at LSU, but I was also anxious for the future. So many questions ran through my head…Can I do this? How will I do this? Are people nice there? What will this be like? How do you just start a chapter? And the biggest question of all…Are there really alligators in the LSU lakes? 

After my first few weeks at LSU, I started realizing that this chapter, which up until then had been a distant fantasy, would soon be a reality. This feat was only possible by the support of so many people around me. The LSU Greek Life staff, the Greek Community, our Alpha Phi extension team and my fellow ELCs— we all worked together to make Alpha Phi at LSU more than a dream. On Thursday, September 12 there were only a handful of Alpha Phis on campus at LSU, and by September 13 we had over 200 members. I can’t explain the sense of pride I felt as I watched our new members sport their letters around campus that day. It still gives me chills to think about them running down sorority row, decked out in tutus, bows and face paint, being cheered on by the ENTIRE Greek community. It was a moment I will always remember!

Little did I know that the real work would actually start after the women joined. It was hard work, but it was fun work. It was incredible to watch members grow into leaders within the chapter, to watch life long friendships form before my eyes and to witness members coming together and creating a sisterhood. Kelly, Katie, and I (also know as “The ELCs” or “The Old Alpha Phi Girls” around campus) spent the fall semester at LSU teaching the women what it means to be an Alpha Phi, and all along the way I learned so much from them. A few lessons were that I say the word “bayou” completely wrong, SEC Football is like nothing you’ve ever seen (I encourage everyone to go to at least one game in their life), there actually aren’t alligators in the LSU lakes, all the words to Callin’ Baton Rouge and most importantly, that Alpha Phi is home…no matter where you are. 

As the spring semester rolled around, I saw even more growth in the chapter as I watched the officers start to carry out their roles. The sisterhood within the chapter grew stronger, and everyone’s passion for Alpha Phi seemed to run even deeper. I watched the founding members start to take a real ownership of their chapter and mold it into what they wanted it to be. I am still so proud of all their hard work. Installation weekend in March was so special, a memory that I’m sure every Delta Tau who was present will always cherish. Yes, there have been bumps along the way and bad days here and there…but I can honestly say that this has been one of the most incredible years of my life. I have forever been changed by the women of the Delta Tau chapter. I never knew I could love another chapter as much as my own, but it’s true I do! Kelly and Katie, who were my fellow ELCs this year in the “BTR” (as we like to call it), are some of my best friends…and I’m already having withdrawals not being with them every hour of everyday.

Baton Rouge, LSU, Delta Tau, Alpha Phi and so many other things have a place in my heart forever. So now, as the LSU campus gets smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror, I feel like I can finally answer all those nervous questions I had back at the start. Can I do this? Yes you did it! How will I do this? With the help of a lot of people, not very much sleep, and by putting your full heart into the project.  re people nice there? People are so very nice. This year you will make some incredible friendships. The Tigers don’t particularly like Texas Longhorns though…so maybe keep that on the DL. Apparently your alma mater beat them in the cotton bowl way back when. What will this be like? A constant whirlwind. Life Changing. Incredible. Hard. Fun. Everything in between. How do you just start a chapter? You just get in there and do it…again with lots of support! And the biggest question of all…Are there alligators in the LSU lakes? Apparently not…however Kelly and I swear we saw one swimming around.

To quote the anthem of LSU, I will forever be “sendin’ my love down to Baton Rouge.”

Ashlee Davie (Omega-Texas) is a first year educational leadership consultant.

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