September 30, 2015

Collegiate Perspective: Finding your Niche in Alpha Phi

People sometimes think that by joining a sorority, you are agreeing to conform your values, beliefs and talents to those that “fit in” with the greater group. I think as members, one thing we truly value is diversity. It can be easy to get  caught up in what everyone as a larger group is doing, and  we can forget how big of a contribution we, as individuals, bring to Alpha Phi. 

We simply don’t give ourselves enough credit. When you look at your friends, you see an impressive group of women: someone who is extremely involved in multiple organizations on campus, another who has a perfect 4.0, someone who has a great professional network and internship experience or another who holds a leadership position in your chapter and essentially keeps it functioning. It becomes easy to look at yourself and wonder, “Am I doing enough?”

If you have yet to discover your contribution, here is my advice to you:

  • Accept that it’s okay to not be perfect. You are not going to excel in every single thing that you do. You can’t do everything, and that’s okay. 
  • Put yourself out there. Don’t always wait for someone to approach you first. If someone needs assistance with an event, offer to help. You may develop a passion for something you never knew you were interested in.
  • Don’t be afraid to be disappointed. If you volunteer to do something and realize afterwards that it isn’t a good fit for you, don’t force yourself to enjoy doing it. Passion can’t and shouldn’t be forced. The experience serves as a learning opportunity and gives you better direction on what you should try next.
  • Recognize others’ strengths. Sometimes someone doesn’t even realize they obtain the talents that they do. If you highlight those strengths, build them up and encourage that individual to do something, you may just help her find her niche. Wouldn’t you want her to do the same for you?

The only way you can realize what you are good at is by diving in headfirst with hopes of developing a passion for at least one thing. Whether it’s philanthropy, academics or Panhellenic involvement, give it everything you have and your efforts will certainly benefit your chapter. 

Katelyn Pulio is a collegiate member at Missouri (Omicron). Learn more about Katelyn by clicking here.

September 28, 2015

On the Road: That ELC Feeling

As a collegian, I always adored the ELCs that visited my chapter. Every ELC I met spoke so highly of their job and explained why they were so happy traveling for Alpha Phi International. I never quite understood how traveling with one suitcase to a different school every week could be so exhilarating. As the application deadline came closer in my final year of college, I knew I wanted to apply. After attending the interview weekend and being offered the position, I was nothing less than ecstatic! I knew I had a big year ahead of me and was anticipating this amazing feeling I would experience working as an ELC.

I’m happy to share that it did not take me long to experience that special feeling past ELCs had told me about. There is something wonderful about working as an ELC that you cannot get from any other job. It is the feeling of excitement when you receive your schedule of visits. It is the feeling of frustration when you get lost in your rental car for two straight hours. It is the feeling of complete ridiculousness when you’re running around the airport with clothes hanging from your arms because your suitcase was over 50 pounds. It is the feeling you get when the couple sitting next to you on a long flight mention how you slept the entire time. It is the feeling you get when something so peculiar happens that you know it will be a great story to tell one day (because at that moment it probably is not funny). It is the feeling of sensing relief from a room full of women who place their trust in you to strengthen their chapter. It is the feeling of gratitude when the women in the room are tired but continue to provide their undivided attention. It is the feeling of accomplishment when you successfully complete a week of recruitment with 100 happy women. It is the feeling of pleasure when a chapter member tells you that you are doing a great job and it’s the pat on the back at just the right time. It is the feeling of pure happiness when you make new friendships with sisters from all over the country! Most importantly, it is the feeling of appreciation when you leave a chapter who has taught you as much as you have taught them.

I am now one of those ELCs who has one suitcase and travels to a different school every week. I now understand, exactly, the exhilarating feeling everyone talks about when working as an Educational Leadership Consultant. This feeling makes it all worthwhile.

Sydney Berger (Beta Epsilon/Arizona) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Sydney by clicking here.

September 24, 2015

Collegiate Perspective: Positive Actions with Social Media

My sophomore year, I was lucky enough to be appointed director of advertising for the Theta Delta chapter of Alpha Phi. In this role, I learned a lot about the importance of representing the authenticity and beauty of my fellow sisters with marketing and risk management in mind. I began to understand that anything we put on social media was going to be seen by other members of the Greek community, the Creighton community and by potential new members.

As an individual within the Greek community, I encourage the use of social media in a way that promotes your values and personality. Professionally speaking, many of us already know that most employers will perform background checks when we apply for jobs. Those include checking all social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Ask yourself this: What would be someone’s first impression of me solely based on viewing my social media accounts? If it’s grace, charm and personality then I’d say you’re right on point.

As sisters of Alpha Phi and members of the Greek community, we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are held responsible for the content we post on social media, and even in the cyber world, “we are always wearing out letters.” Sometimes, individuals with no Greek life affiliation can hold negative stereotypes regarding the Greek community because of things they see on social media. It’s up to us to represent Alpha Phi and our respective Greek communities with the highest ideals of our organization in mind.  

Alpha Phi, as we all know, provides us with priceless opportunities, experiences and memories. Let’s represent those aspects through social media and change that stereotype. I hope outsiders begin to view Greek involvement as members who experience a journey together that allows them to learn about themselves, to help and support others and to become a part of the greater good. I like the sound of that.

Darshana Panchal is a collegiate member at Creighton (Theta Delta) . Learn more about Darshana by clicking here

Living Like A Leader - Living Your Values

I am a woman who wears many badges – figuratively of course. Some badges I hold close and cherish. Other badges I hold with out-stretched arms anxiously waiting for the end of responsibility. But every badge I wear has a history both in my life and in the sheer possibility that I could even have that badge – that responsibility or opportunity.

My children know I love Alpha Phi and its importance in my life. When my son was seven and I told him that a fun neighbor was NOT an Alpha Phi, he leaned close and whispered, “Why not?” as if something was wrong with her. Because in my kid’s world most women are Alpha Phis. I love that my kids think it is out of the ordinary to be unaffiliated.

This thing called fraternity that we all “pledged” to join and support is a funny thing. Some of the greatest joys and greatest challenges are shared in fraternity. But why does it matter after graduation when you “get on with your life”? The seeds of fraternity are strong and stellar stuff. At our roots, we are tough women!

Just try to imagine the average day of our ten founders – 

Going to class and not being able to take a seat until all the men had been seated. 
Standing for an entire class wearing heels, a tight dress and a corset.
Standing behind a screen because your presence might be too distracting for the men.
Waiting to register for classes until all of the men first received their schedules.               Raising your hand to ask a question and never being called on by your professor.

I can’t imagine a campus life where you weren’t welcomed. These 10 women came together to make a space where they could feel supported. They created a space where they had literary debates and vigorous discussions not found in the classroom. They loved one another. They challenged one another. They celebrated one another. They accepted one another. This is the roots of fraternity.

This is the reason I am able to wear so many badges. The badges of professional, philanthropist, friend, partner, student, wife, mother, president, mentor, director, advisor, etc. I am able to wear these badges because of these women who came before me. Together they were oddities on a campus. Collectively they became a force to be reckoned with. Collectively they brought more than 200 thousand to the badge they crafted. This is my fraternity. 

My collegiate experience was very good with many opportunities, but that was such a small part of my Alpha Phi experience. Past International President, Linda Boland refers to collegiate members as “stewards” of the Fraternity. These “stewards” that we educate well and instill the power of women coming together supporting each other continue to wear the badge. When the fraternity truly permeates the member they learn the meaning of lifelong membership. The values of leadership, scholarship, loyalty, sisterhood and service are the fabric of life that hold my badge. It’s not just words, it’s a reality.

My membership remains strong and continues to grow. The values aren’t just something I read, they're something real that lives and grounds what I do. I feel the loyalty of sisterhood when I connect with not a stranger, but an unknown Alpha Phi in Washington. She answered a desperate email to help me find professional clothing when my luggage didn’t arrive on the airplane and I was delivering a keynote to 800 people that evening. I feel the leadership of sisterhood when we celebrate the professional successes of one another as we continue to push the limits of what’s possible. I feel the power of service when I see the millions of dollars given to support women’s heart health and scholarship. These are beacons and reminders of this special thing we belong.

No, I don’t recite the creed or study ritual daily, but the values decreed remain. When a side conversation develops in a group of people and someone starts to share less than nice comments - somehow the word “disparage” always comes to mind. This is a word engrained in my lexicon by Alpha Phi and I know what to do. When I’m hearing some awesome constructive feedback from a colleague or client that stings with its truth – somehow the phrase “both take and give” comes to mind. This phrase is part of my lexicon and I know what to do. 

The badge of Alpha Phi is definitely on me and in me. I am richer because of Alpha Phi. I value Alpha Phi!

Patty Hendrickson (Zeta Alpha-Eastern Illinois University 1983-87) Chapter President & Panhellenic Vice President

September 23, 2015

Meet the Fall 2015 Collegiate Perspective Bloggers!

Darshana Panchal (Theta Delta-Creighton): Darshana is a senior at Creighton studying finance and marketing. She has been very involved within her Alpha Phi chapter as assistant Red Dress Gala chair, director of advertising, and director of internal events. Additionally, her leadership within Alpha Phi has contributed to her success within other campus organizations such as vice president of recruitment and executive vice president of Alpha Kappa Psi – a  professional business fraternity – and president of the Creighton American Marketing Association. Her favorite thing to do is to find random fun (and free!,#college) things to do around the city of Omaha. She also loves spending time with her brother and cousins when on vacation.

Rylee Portman (Delta Gamma–Northern Colorado): Rylee is a sophomore at Northern Colorado majoring in nursing. Within Alpha Phi, she serves on the executive council as the director of finance and played on the chapter’s intramural volleyball team. Rylee has enjoyed every second of her time in Alpha Phi and notes that living in the house with 24 roommates has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Following graduation, Rylee hopes to pursue a career as a labor and delivery nurse. In her free time she loves to sing off-key, eat peanut butter and laugh until her stomach hurts. 

Katelyn Pulio (Omicron-Missouri): Katie is a sophomore at Missouri studying strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in psychology. She is involved with her chapter as its director of service and the assistant director of academics, and likes to think that she is in a “committed relationship” with Alpha Phi. Katie is also involved with Relay for Life, Psi Chi and the Emerging Leaders Program. She has an obsession with coffee, Twitter, crafting and watching “The Bachelor.” 

Grace Quinn (Gamma-DePauw): Grace is a senior English writing major at DePauw. Aside from her amazing family, Grace is most thankful for her beautiful Alpha Phi sisters. Her favorite things include late-night chats in the "informal", dance parties during lunch and their house mom's famous Grasshopper Pie. She feels so blessed to live in a house filled with so much love and laughter, and where everyone challenges her to be her best self every day. She has served as the director of chapter events, vice president of marketing, and is currently the Gamma chapter's president. Each position has taught her so much about dedication, leadership and sisterhood. She looks forward to what senior year has in store and is excited to be living in the house for one last year! 

Caroline Whitlock (Eta Lambda-George Mason): Caroline is a senior at George Mason majoring in government and international politics with a minor in legal studies. Caroline currently serves as the director of administration for the Eta Lambda chapter, as well as the vice president of programming for the Panhellenic Council. She is also involved in GMU student government, where she serves as the executive undersecretary for external partnerships and liaison to Virginia 21. Caroline recently helped form the Mason Service Council, and still actively participates in community service projects in the Fairfax community, like the Mason Nation 9/11 Day of Service. She is currently applying to be an Alpha Phi ELC, and after that, hopes to attend law school and use her passion for community service and justice to foster a legal career in Washington, D.C., with a concentration in criminal law and prosecution. 

September 21, 2015

On the Road: Five Years of Bid Day

A little over four years ago I was sitting in an auditorium seat at my university with an envelope in my hand. My mind was racing, my heart pounding. I was about to open the envelope that would not only change my college experience, but would change my life. I had no idea that this card would have such a big impact on my future. I had no idea that I was about to run to my future best friends and role models. And I had no idea as I ran to the big grey house on the corner of the street, where my sisters were welcoming my new member class with hugs and tears, that I would be running home. 

I knew little about Greek life going into recruitment, so I didn’t know what bid day would be like, and I’m not going to lie, it was a little awkward. Looking at older members having a blast, us new members were quiet and nervous, but excited all at once. We looked to them wanting what they had, although we didn’t completely understand it. 

During the remaining three years of the undergraduate experience, bid day is one of the most anticipated days of the year. It’s a time to spend with your newest sisters, and a time to reconnect with your current ones. It’s a sign that recruitment is over, and a start to the amazing year ahead. And as senior year rolls around, it symbolizes the beginning of the end of your four years. Each year bid day gets better, but honestly, the fifth bid day might be the best.

You may think I’m crazy saying it’s possible to enjoy a bid day at a chapter that isn’t my own, but it’s a bid day not everyone gets to experience, and that might be what makes it so special. As an ELC, I come into a chapter sometimes during polish week, and sometimes just a few hours before recruitment, but either way, I come in as a stranger. Throughout the few days that I spend with a chapter I get to see their sisterhood, and I soon learn what makes them the chapter they are. Although my visits may just be a few days, I fall in love with the uniqueness of each chapter I visit. 

And now, I get to watch them. I get to see their excitement and tears as the list of new members is read to them, and I get to see their future littles and best friends run to their arms. And even though it isn’t my home chapter, it’s an honor to be a part of that. These chapter members welcome me into their home with open arms and open hearts, just as they welcome their new members, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Alex Parkinson (Psi - South Dakota) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Alex by clicking here.

September 14, 2015

On the Road: Bittersweet Goodbye

The day we got our schedules, I was overjoyed. My first visit would be at the University of Missouri, or Mizzou, and my second visit would be to the University of Mississippi, or Ole Miss. As a Louisiana girl who graduated from LSU, I felt a sense of relief that I would be visiting two SEC schools. What I did not realize in that moment is how much I would learn to love each of these schools as if they were my own.

I was at Mizzou for all of their polish week and formal recruitment. Of course, as with any recruitment visit, the recruitment team and I had some very early mornings and really late nights. The Starbucks baristas almost knew our orders by the end of it all. While in Columbia, Missouri – or CoMo, as the girls call it – I got to experience some of things that make the Omicron chapter and Mizzou so special: O rings, Andy’s Frozen Custard, Shakespeare’s Pizza, the TFL, Greek Town… I could go on and on. I also made friendships that will last much longer than my two-week visit. I watched the Omicron chapter grow and become even stronger than it already was. All of those things combined are what made it so difficult to leave. When my visit was over, I packed up and headed for Oxford, Mississippi. I was excited to be heading to Ole Miss to help start a new chapter there, but sad to be leaving Mizzou, the first school I had visited and gotten so attached to. It was definitely a bittersweet feeling.

It was that day that I realized how unique being an Educational Leadership Consultant really is. Every experience is unique; no two ELCs will have exactly the same experience even if they are sent to the same chapters. I don’t know where I will go next, but I know I’ll love it just as much as I’ve loved my other visits.

Michele Dalon (Delta Tau, LSU) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Michele by clicking here.

September 7, 2015

On the Road: The Road Less Traveled

It was a Wednesday morning last winter when I was woken up by a phone call from Evanston, Illinois. My heart raced; this was the call I had been waiting for-- the call that would bring me one step closer to finally figuring out what the next year of my life would bring. Flustered, excited, (and frankly, half asleep) I picked up the phone and heard the words that I had so anxiously been waiting for from the moment I had left interview weekend earlier that month: “Hi Jillian, we’d like to extend you an offer to travel next year as an ELC…”

Despite how excited I was to receive that call, when I hung up the phone, a pit began to form in my stomach. I had five days to decide between taking my dream job of an ELC, or the business job offer that I had received just a few days prior. The decision I was making seemed to be anything but an easy feat. A million thoughts ran through my head. Will I be able to find a new job after my traveling ends? What will people think when they hear I work for my sorority? Am I crazy for not choosing the safer, more traditional route? Can I really live on the road with only two suitcases for a whole year?! Out of all of the questions that were running through my brain, one question stood out the most to me: How could I not take this once in a lifetime opportunity? 

As the two month mark of my time as an ELC nears, the questions that seemed to haunt me that weekend have already been answered so clearly. Yes, I will be able to find a job after this year. More confident in my abilities than ever before, I will be able to tell any interviewer how I can gain buy-in in a room full of 100 new faces, create and lead workshops on the spot, and stay cool, calm and collected under any sort of pressure. People will think what I’m doing is courageous, and pretty cool. Working as a consultant for an organization that you are passionate about isn’t something that every college grad is able to say they could do right out of school. Living out of two suitcases really isn’t that bad. It may have taken me a over month to figure out how to pack the right mix of clothing, but having my whole wardrobe on wheels really ended up being a breeze.

Not taking this opportunity would have left me with the biggest question of all: What if? What if I hadn’t taken this job? What if I hadn’t had the opportunity to befriend 20 of the most beautiful and fun souls that I get to call my best friends and fellow ELCs? What if I hadn’t been able to experience the joy of the Washington State women when they saw the new members they worked so hard for on Bid Day? What if I hadn’t been able to now say I am part of a team that is making history by starting a brand new Alpha Phi chapter at Yale University? 

For those of you still deciding whether or not you should submit that application [] on October 1, I encourage you to ask yourself the same question I did: How could I not? Being an ELC is a once in a lifetime opportunity to give back to the organization that you have been so devoted to for the past three years. It is an opportunity to travel the country and learn more about yourself and others than you ever thought possible. It is an opportunity to gain invaluable experience that no other job right out of college could ever provide. It is an opportunity to inspire, be inspired, and live the rest of your life never having to ask yourself the question “What if I had just decided to be an ELC? “

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by…and that has made all the difference.

Jillian Knowles (Delta-Cornell) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Jillian by clicking here.

September 1, 2015

Watchcare: Home is Where the Heart Is

No matter how excited you may be about college life, even the most independent woman can find herself experiencing homesickness. Moving away from home for either the first time or another year, adjusting to a college workload and setting up a brand new daily routine can take their toll, and sometimes, all you want to do is crawl into your (non-twin XL) bed with a tub of ice cream at home. A lot of women aren’t able to just head home whenever they feel like it, so when you’re missing home, how do you cope?

What is homesickness?

According to Thurber, “homesickness is the distress or impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home.” Almost all people miss one thing or another when they are away from home. This experience is universal and normal. It doesn’t matter if your feelings are intense or mild, you can still be homesick.

What can you do?

1. Know that what you are going through is normal. Changing routines and being away from what you are used to can be difficult.

2. Get more familiar with your campus and community. Take a walk around campus. Find where all the administration and academic buildings are located. Find your professors offices, the tutoring center, the counseling center, and the recreation center to help work out the stress in a healthy way. 

3. Get involved and find a “home” for you on campus. You’ve already found a home in Alpha Phi. Be sure to take advantage of all the activities your chapter has planned for you.

4. Maintain relationships with family and friends at home. Set a reminder on your phone to call or text someone from home once a week.

5. Talk to other sisters or professionals. Don’t be afraid to let people know how you are feeling. They might have been through the same thing and can lend you a listening ear.

6. Keep your thoughts positive! You can get through this!

How do I know if it’s more than homesickness?

Take note of what your feelings look like: Does the feeling last for long periods of time? Are you still going to class, meetings, etc.? Try to decipher what reactions are normal and not normal for yourself. If you think you need assistance, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Seeking guidance from a professional is not uncommon and they can further asses your feelings and help you move forward.

Don’t forget that feeling homesick is normal and most everyone experiences some loneliness. Make sure that you are also thinking about all the positive things your college career holds for you! Remember, you’ve only just begun the year.

Need some more advice or someone to talk to? The Watchcare Support Hotline is there to help! Call them at 800.756.3124. The Watchcare Support Hotline is staffed 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year by licensed and trained individuals. The Watchcare Support Hotline is funded by a generous grant from Alpha Phi Foundation.