March 30, 2015

On the Road: Making an Impact


Overall, I have loved my first year on the road as an educational leadership consultant. I have been able to meet the most amazing people and experience some crazy and exciting things. I have been having the time of my life and have found some of my best friends through my ELC team. However, being a consultant isn't as glorious as it may seem at times. There are obstacles and trials that each of us has had to overcome on a daily basis. We have to balance our work lives with our personal lives and sometimes when we are so far away from home... it can be a challenge that we weren't necessarily prepared for. But that is life, it isn't always easy. In fact, it is rarely easy and more often than not, we find ourselves being unprepared when the storm comes. However, if we can learn to rise when we fall, be positive in negative situations, find the glory and joy in the little things and learn to be happy and successful above all, then we will find ourselves able to overcome anything that life throws at us.

As a consultant, I get to meet so many amazing leaders who dedicate countless hours each day to their chapters. Therefore I wanted to write this blog post in dedication to the leaders of our chapters; from the Chaplains, Merchandising Chairmen and New Member Educators to the Chapter Presidents, Chapter Advisors and International Governors - this post is for you.

Some of you may be surprised to know that Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison and Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight elections. Yet each one of these people achieved extraordinary success... but how? We all know of people that have struggled throughout their lives but have risen to overcome any trials that life has thrown at them. Some, like Jobs, Mandela and Lincoln, climb their way back to the top and inspire the world in the meantime. We love to hear about these stories and for a brief moment, we let them inspire us. However, when it comes to our own stories, our own struggles and trials when failure is fresh in our lives, sometimes it’s hard to become inspired and to believe that we can pick ourselves back up and achieve success.

Last year while I was in college I came across an article in Forbes Magazine that really helped put all of this in perspective for me. It helped me discover the foundation one needs to build to be successful and overcome things as a leader: “Having the skills and the wherewithal to rebuild your platform requires you to 1.) Take responsibility for the bad result and negotiate your way out of it, 2.) Refuse to be deterred by a set-back that five years from now will be nothing more than a great learning experience, and 3.) Proceed with utmost integrity using both your heart and your mind to guide you along the road back.”

As the leaders of our Fraternity, we dedicate so much of our lives to Alpha Phi and our leadership positions within. Adversity is always looming, and the opportunities for failure are ever-present. Things can go wrong at the worst of times… and occasionally they do. Sometimes, just when we think things can’t get any worse, something else happens and we are left overwhelmed or defeated. I encourage everyone to use the skills that I came across in Forbes Magazine as a foundation for overcoming obstacles and rise above. They are called the Skills of Engagement
  1. Listen actively
  2. Think critically
  3. Have transparent communication
  4. Own the result
  5. Influence obstructionists, the timid and the disengaged
  6. Negotiate a favorable outcome 
Using these Skills of Engagement has helped me tremendously in my life so far, especially when I was a VP and Chapter President in undergrad and now as a consultant for Alpha Phi. They truly work if we sit back and allow ourselves to understand the entire situation. Another skill that you must rely on is charisma. Those of you that know me know that I have charisma. I have learned not to take things or myself too seriously. Sometimes things go wrong and it is out of our control, but it is how we handle things and how we rise above the problems with solutions and positivity. Also remember that you cannot do things alone. You need a team, whether it is your department, your executive board, your chapter, your advisor, or a fellow ELC, it’s okay to reach out for help or just for someone to talk things through with.

So I encourage you all to stand tall when things get hard. Push through the trials and problems and find solutions to anything and everything that life/your position may throw at you. You have the opportunity to affect so many lives in a positive way and be a role model to so many young women. So the next time you find yourself struggling or feel like you aren’t making a difference. I am here to tell you that YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE and that every minute and every ounce of heart and soul that you put into your position is making an impact on your chapter and Alpha Phi International as a whole. At times, you may feel underappreciated and too tired to keep going above and beyond, but you must keep moving forward. Find solutions and then move on.

 
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I had the opportunity to be Chapter President of the Beta Sigma chapter at the University of Utah. I have so much love and pride for my chapter and it has only grown as a consultant. However, I will be the first one to admit that I had my trials as Chapter President. There were times where I wondered what in the heck I had gotten myself into, where I felt unappreciated for all the sleepless nights, where I wondered what I was getting out of something that I was putting so much into… and when times were hard, whether it was worth it. I had my moments of weakness as a leader, like many do. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to have those moments. It’s okay to cry alone in your room occasionally because you feel overwhelmed - in fact, I encourage it. It’s because of those moments of weakness that I remembered why I ran, the purpose of why I did what I did and regained the drive. Those moments of weakness have made me the person and consultant that I am today.

As Chapter President I looked up to Linda Boland, Alpha Phi International Executive Board President at the time, more than I can even explain. She is an inspiring woman in more ways than one and I clung onto every inspiring word that she provided during my term as President. I read my favorite quote of hers in the Quarterly prior to my final semester as Chapter President: “… I began thinking about the upcoming year - my final year as International President. There is still much work to be done and little time left to do it, so I'd better sprint to the finish line. To my sisters who will finish their term as collegiate chapter presidents this fall, I challenge you to do the same. Alpha Phi has given us an extraordinary opportunity to serve as our Fraternity's leaders. We have but a moment to make a positive difference in the Fraternity we love. Let's seize every single minute - right up to the last - to do our very best.”

So, to all my fellow leaders in Alpha Phi, take Linda Boland's advice and seize every single minute and do your very best.

I’d specifically like to dedicate this post to all the amazing leaders that I've had the opportunity of meeting and a special shout out to Evan Jones (Omega), Stacey Daniel (Omega), Lindsay Martin Poss (Beta Psi), Mechelle Mellor (Theta Sigma), Mary Popielewski (Rho), Faith Marsco (Rho), Dawn Bauer (Theta Lambda), Gianna Petan (Delta Theta), Nellie Kerr (Omega), Sharon Jensen (Delta Xi), Courtney Coslor (Theta Delta), Dale Hoeffel (Theta Delta), Megan Rafferty (Iota Nu), Emily Blankenship (Iota Nu), Melissa Doruff (Beta Psi), Shay Berges (Beta Epsilon), Erika Hauser (Epsilon Nu), Courtney Colucci (Epsilon Nu), Amanda Rutig (Epsilon Nu), Bre Lucking (Beta Sigma), Maranda Lebrecht (Beta Sigma),  Alpha Phi International Staff and of course my perfect 2014-15 ELC Team. Thank you for all that you do and will continue to do. PUSH FORWARD.

Stephanie Scott (Beta Sigma-Utah) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Staphanie by clicking here.

March 25, 2015

Collegiate Perspective: Working Through the Tough Times

When I first started school, I was extremely homesick. I am the oldest of four, and I was used to the commotion of the lives of my family. Living in a dorm didn't make it any better. I know that many of you can relate to this feeling, and it is awful. I was a little fish in a huge pond and I wanted so badly to find my niche and to be a part of something. I have learned more in my year of being a member of this fraternity than I could have ever imagined. I have become more studious, womanly, responsible and mature. I did not want to have to become someone else to be a part of a chapter. Instead, I wanted to find a home that was going to change me.

I love who I am becoming, and who I am going to be. It is for this reason that I can honestly say becoming a member of Alpha Phi was the best decision I have ever made. This chapter has given me a support system that I never dreamed of having. Around November of 2014, my dad became ill. During this time the women in my chapter were there to rescue me when I felt like I was drowning in fear, stressed because of school and missing home. They kept me going when I thought I couldn't take it anymore.

In March of last year I was unexpectedly rushed home for a family meeting to find that my dad had been diagnosed with cancer, a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma. I was devastated. All I could think was why us? Why my family? My life became a blur. I remember coming back to school on a Sunday evening, only to be consoled by my big sis, Lexi. She, and all of my sisters, was again there to catch me. Everything was going to be okay as long as I had them by my side.

Over the summer, my dad expectedly spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital. And on August 15 he passed away. Everything shattered into pieces around me. My sisters were there to my rescue, yet again, to pick up the pieces and help me glue them back together.

The outpouring of love and support from my sisters was overwhelming, and even that is an understatement. Sisters drove more than five hours to surprise me by attending my father’s services. I received countless texts, calls, messages and posts from each of my sisters, sending me courage; the courage I need to be where I am today. Being a part of something greater than myself has opened doors for me that I never imagined possible.


In September our chapter held a philanthropy event called “Sweet Tea with Alpha Phi” to give back to Lymphoma research in honor of my dad. Together, we raised over $500 to help those families affected by this cancer, and to get one step closer to finding a cure. While Lymphoma research is not our philanthropy, Lymphoma is something that hits home for me, my family and my sisters. I have been so privileged to be a member of the Delta Theta chapter. If I did not have this home to return to, I would not have had the strength to come back to school at all. During a time of grieving, I find myself laughing, smiling, loving life and being truly happy. Happy to be a part of this home. Happy to have 50 beautiful women I call my best friends. Happy to know that I will never ever be alone.

Alpha Phi has changed my life. I would like to leave you with a quote that I feel best embodies my experience as an Alpha Phi. It is a quote that we all can relate to in some kind of way, whether it is moving away from home, making new friends, or joining a chapter that will change your life. “If life can remove someone you never dreamed of losing, it can replace them with someone you never dreamt of having.”

Gianna Petan is a collegiate member at Western Michigan (Delta Theta). Learn more about Gianna by clicking here.

March 20, 2015

Featured Product Friday: "Alpha Phi Mom" Button


Moms' Weekend is coming up, and you don't want your mom to feel left out! Show her some love with an "Alpha Phi Mom" button! Bulk ordering is available, so your chapter can easily order for all of the mothers who will be there. Bulk orders ship quickly!

Price is $1.75 each (bulk pricing available). Click here for details.

March 19, 2015

Collegiate Perspective: Little Moments

If Alpha Phi has taught me anything over the past four years, it's that it is impossible to truly appreciate the significance of a moment until it is a memory. And in this regard I have come to find that the memories that carry the most significance are those that are in every sense of the word, the simplest. In retrospect I realize that the most earnest moments I have had the privilege to share with my sisters have been those occurring quietly.

There is not a doubt in my mind that Alpha Phi has had a profound impact on my life over the past four years. The number of opportunities I have been blessed with because of this organization are innumerable, and the moments I've sat in humble observance of the love surrounding me are infinite.

If I were to try and depict everything this organization has provided me with, personally, emotionally, and tangibly, it would be a short novel missing several chapters due to an inability to properly articulate them. There are so many times you take it for granted, failing to realize just how established it is, and when you take a minute to consider it, it’s incredibly overwhelming. The number of years our traditions have held strong, the hours of community service, the friendships it has formed, and the women who learn they are unique and cherished. How many organizations can boast the things that Alpha Phi is able to?


In my four years I had the opportunity to hold positions of leadership within my chapter, and through them I discovered qualities I never knew I had. I was thrust into situations I felt I was ill equipped to handle, only to discover I was far more capable than I had believed. Alpha Phi has blessed me with the best company I could have dreamed of through such transformative years, and people I can confidently say will be companions for the rest of my life. There are so many moments that I look at the powerful, strong, and diverse group around me and understand that without Alpha Phi I would have never gotten the opportunity to know them for the authentic women they are. Without Alpha Phi they would simply be faces in the crowd, and that thought is simply chilling. Alpha Phi has taught me that family is not strictly referring to biology and that home is not a place, rather a feeling.

These discoveries have come to me over time, but never in organized situations. They came in the moments that from an outside perspective must look by any sense of the word; average. But let me tell you, they are the farthest thing from average. There's something greater to them; an intangible quality that is impossible to fabricate.

No, the memories that I will remember best, the most precious moments that Alpha Phi has given me are those that I found while walking home from school on the first sunny day of spring to be greeted by my sisters sitting on our front porch. My love for Alpha Phi can be recognized in the impromptu decision to walk down the block to the local ice cream spot in running shorts and letters, hair messily tied on top of our heads. My appreciation for Alpha Phi will come from the time I was taken to dip my toes in the river following a difficult test. My respect for Alpha Phi will be remembered in the difficult times, bursting into tears to find arms immediately wrapped around me.

My gratitude for Alpha Phi can be traced back to all the seemingly little ways it has eloquently and noiselessly shaped me into the woman I am today.

Taylor Skansi is a collegiate member at Montana (Chi). Learn more about Taylor by clicking here.

March 16, 2015

On the Road: Who Really are the ELCs?

You'll notice a general trend when reading the “On the Road” blog posts by the ELCs over the past few years – almost every single one of them mentions working with their beloved ELC Team. This is because each ELC Team forms a special bond when doing this unique job together. As our contract comes to an end, we'll only have been physically together for a total of 29 days in 9 months, but we've still become like family.


It's easy enough to read basic information about us if you go to the “Meet the ELCs” section on alphaphi.org, but I wish that each and every Alpha Phi got a chance to actually meet the wonderful people I work with. You may have been in a chapter with one of the ELCs, seen them lead a presentation at Leadership Conference, or received a chapter visit from one of them. As individuals, we can only visit so many chapters, so I wanted to give you a glimpse of what those bios don't tell you.

Anita, Erin, Hillary and Lissette will give you a run for your money in any fun situation! A big group of us took a trip during our winter break and with them leading the pack, there was no way we could not have had an awesome time. Looks like it's time to start planning trip #2!

Meg, Tasha and Gina are some of the most passionate women I have had the chance to work with... on top of being hilariously quirky and a great time to be around! They have put so much effort into their chapters this semester and I'm so proud of their hard work.

Megan and Tripi have exceeded everyone's expectations recolonizing Iowa State's chapter this past year and have been an amazing team! How could I not put them together? For Halloween, a pair of members told Megan and Tripi that they wanted to dress as them for the night. If that doesn't describe a dynamic best friend duo to you, then I don't know what will.

Calley, Mia and Scottie are some of the most hilarious, down for anything people I have ever met! Their energy and positivity is completely contagious and I always know who I should FaceTime when I've had a long day packed full of airports, meetings, conference calls and need a pick-me-up.

Brie, Emily, Katie and Nikki act like the mama bears of our group, but don't let that fool you. They're all so knowledgeable and helpful, and being on the road wouldn't be the same without them and their love for Alpha Phi. They’re the best mentors any of us could ask for!

Although it’s brief, I hope this gives you a little glance at what my amazing ELC team is like. I am so thankful that this job brought us together. They’re all passionate, hilarious, intelligent, determined and truly indescribable – I hope each and every one of you has a chance to meet these wonderful leaders at some point during your long and lasting Alpha Phi journey.

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

March 13, 2015

The Alpha and the Phi: An Original Poem by Lindsay C. Billmeyer (Theta Phi)

They're just two simple letters that stand side by side,
Like the pride that we strive to keep as our guide.
Because we are sisters, united we stand.
Union hand in hand to tackle any demand that we think we can.
It's not just the love and the loyalty that makes it so great.
It's all of the morals and values that we encapsulate:
Sisterhood and scholarship to mold our minds and souls
Are created by the leadership we exemplify when we service our philanthropic goals.
Our diversity works to make us stronger as a whole
By building skills of all levels and traits of all roles.
No sister the same as the next that you meet,
Which allows us to stay sweet and dance through life to our own beat.
Our colors, silver, to shine in the light and stand tall and bright
So that we can reach with all of our might to fight for what is right.
Bordeaux, to show the crimson glow of a classy group of ladies that I am proud to know.
Two letters bound by ivy since 1872 to create strong minded women, who do what most won't do.
Women who I am proud to have representing me;
My lifelong friends: The Alpha and the Phi.

March 11, 2015

Collegiate Perspective: Excited. Nervous. Anxious.

Excited. Nervous. Anxious. All of these emotions are racing through the minds of 127 young women as we are approaching Central Campus at Iowa State University. It’s a warm, sunny afternoon and with each step we take the noise gets a little louder and the scene gets a little clearer. Gold and sapphire glitter is scattered amongst the sidewalks and two women, who we later learn are our ELCs, greet us with genuine smiles as they throw us bid day tanks. We're the new chapter on campus and today marks the genesis of an everlasting bond between sisterhood, Iowa State University and Alpha Phi.


What’s it Like Being a New Chapter on Campus?

Upon receiving our first Alpha Phi apparel we were welcomed by over ten sorority chapters, each comprised of seemingly countless members. On behalf of all the Alpha Phi Zeta Delta women, I can say it is an incredible privilege to be part of a Greek Community that is so well established, accomplished and welcoming. Celebrating this Alpha Phi milestone with hundreds of other Greek women was an honor and exceedingly moving!

We have only been here a few months, but have grown to be one of the largest sororities at the largest public university in Iowa. We have already hosted several events, some of which include heart health awareness events and CPR training. We even placed in our first Greek competition! We are currently in the process of preparing for our very first Greek Week and are beyond ecstatic. Being a new chapter on campus has been full of learning, growing and bonding as sisters. Together we look forward to the endless memories we have yet to create and we are thankful for the ones we have already made with our welcoming Greek Cyclone Community.

From Strangers to Sisters

“I can’t thank the girls of Alpha Phi enough for making my first year at Iowa State so amazing and memorable. You ladies are my home away home.”

Although it has only been a few months since we have all met, the friendships we have made feel like they are all but new. Our chapter has just announced the location of our new house, which some of the women will be moving into in August. The majority of those living out of house have already signed leases for next year with their other new sisters.

Gymnastics has become our new favorite sport, since we are honored to have three of the women in our chapter on the gymnastics team at Iowa State. We love attending their home meets and cheering on our fellow Phis. Whether it is cheering at sporting events, hosting philanthropies, becoming roommates, attending sisterhood events, or having weekly dinners with our established Phi Families, it is evident we have quickly gone from strangers to sisters.

Jamie Chamberlain is a collegiate member at Iowa State University (Zeta Delta). Learn more about Jamie by clicking here.

March 6, 2015

Featured Product Friday: I Heart Alpha Phi Tote by Dormify



Totes obsessed. If you're guilty of re-wearing your sorority apparel too often, here is one tote-ally amazing sorority accessory that you can wear every day. This I Heart Alpha Phi canvas tote bag is the perfect accessory to carry everything! Fill it with gym clothes, books, or use it as your handbag. No matter what the purpose, it is the perfect opportunity to rep your letters and show some love.


Price is $12. Bulk ordering available. Click here for details.

March 4, 2015

Collegiate Perspective: Alpha Phi Gives Back


If you are like me, service is one of the things that drew you to Greek Life and Alpha Phi especially. Alpha Phi’s commitment to community outreach and service is truly incredible, especially at Carnegie Mellon University during the spring semester. Our largest Greek event of the year has a philanthropic focus, which this year was expanded to have community service involved. The largest campus event is a campus wide community service day.

Each semester there is a day called “1000+.” The entire campus is encouraged to participate in service activities organized by a leadership board that has often included Alpha Phi sisters. On this day we all come together, regardless of being Greek or not, regardless of our chapters, our majors or our interests and we give back to the community that houses our school. This event takes months of planning but the pay off is amazing. It truly lives up to its name as over a 1000 students each semester take to the streets of Pittsburgh to pick up trash, plant trees, volunteer at shelters and try to leave the community a little better than we found it. For me, the day is only improved by the people I meet; without fail I form new relationships, deepen my bonds with my sisters and fall more in love with Alpha Phi. These days of service have strengthened my desire to perform service and will stick with me far past my collegiate career.

The Greek commitment to philanthropy is even more evident in our annual event, Greek Sing. While it may seem like just a series of 13-minute musicals, it is so much more. Every few years we make a new commitment to a local institution and we pledge to them a sum we will raise. My junior year was the end of a four-year commitment to The Children’s Institute in Pittsburgh. The cheers for the winners of the show were loud, but they were nothing compared to the noise we made when it was announced that over four years we as a community had raised $250,000, nearly double our initial pledge. This year we have begun a two-year commitment to Our Clubhouse, an organization that provides support to the patients and families of those dealing with cancer. We have pledged $160,000 over the next two years and Our Clubhouse is making big plans for how to use the money.

This year as a community we also voted to add that in order to be eligible for the philanthropy award, each chapter would have to volunteer at Our Clubhouse. We wanted to do more to help in every way possible. It’s decisions like this that make me so confident I made the right decision in going Greek and in picking Alpha Phi. College is an incredible four years and as my time here wraps up I am grateful for all the times Alpha Phi provided me with the opportunity to give back and make a meaningful impact on the community.

Rachel Pustejovsky is a collegiate member at Carnegie Mellon (Iota Sigma). Learn more about Rachel by clicking here.

March 2, 2015

On the Road: Feeling Nostalgic

As February hit, I began feeling nostalgic. Exactly one year ago, I was wishing for the months to pass quickly so that ELC training would begin. This February, those feelings have been much different. I find myself paralyzed in my movements over the thought of how quickly the months have flashed before my eyes now that my first year as an ELC is nearing an end. I often think about how I can complete the job in the most impactful way. I think about how I am going to say goodbye to collegiate members that I have spent months with. I think about how I will thank those that have helped me along the way. I think about the memories I’ve made with the ELC team. I think about the true meaning of being an ELC.

Being an ELC is greater than just being part of a team.
Your coworkers become your soulmates. They are your best friends. They are your other halves. They are your partners in crime. They are your future bridesmaids. They are your missing puzzle pieces. They are your lifelines. They are individuals that make you forget what life was like before you had them in your life.

Being an ELC is about growth.
It is about personal growth and real world experience. It is about seeing a chapter grow on Bid Day or through COB. It is about watching a collegiate member grow as a leader. It is about seeing a chapter overcome a weakness. It is about helping Alpha Phi grow through colonizing a new chapter. It is about helping new members grow to have a passion for Alpha Phi. It is about seeing your results that have made a positive impact on the growth of the Fraternity.

Most importantly, you grow to learn that being an ELC is not about you.
It is about the individual chapters and members! It is about empowering collegiate members to be the best versions of themselves. It is about seeing the happy tears in the eyes of collegians and new members as they unite on Bid Day. It is about pushing officers to recognize their potential as a leader.  It is about seeing an executive council willing to try something new. It is about seeing a colony experience their set of firsts. It is about encouraging members to stand back up when they have fallen.


The reality of time is that it will never stop. As time continues to tick by, the day comes closer when the ELC journey will end where it all began – back at the Executive Office. As each consultant arrived in Evanston back in July, we each brought a unique experience and set of strengths. We entered the Executive Office being vulnerable. We arrived a little uncertain of what exactly the future would look like. It was hard to believe that 15 strangers, with different personalities, lives, backgrounds and Alpha Phi experiences could sit in a room together and all discover one common goal – to make a positive impact on the Fraternity and on the lives of other Alpha Phis. And that is what makes my heart feel full.

Stephanie Tripi (Beta Omega-Kent State) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Stephanie by clicking here.