March 28, 2016

Alumnae Perspective: How Attending ELI and the Fellows Program Changed My Life in More Ways than One

I often hear the question, “What is your favorite part about being a sister in Alpha Phi?” Followed by answers, like “I feel at home when I am with my sisters” or “I know I am cared for and I will always have a genuine friend to lean on.” I relate closely to these two answers, but more often than not, when I am asked the same question I will always answer with:

Alpha Phi has given me more than I could have ever imagined (cliché, but true). On top of navigating college with the support of my Delta Nu chapter sisters and having the opportunity to hold several positions within my chapter, I was also accepted to attend a session of the Emerging Leadership Institute (ELI) and the Fellows Program while I was an undergrad. I like to think of these Alpha Phi leadership programs as the stepping stones or the “ladder” I climbed to becoming the woman I am today. ELI was the perfect guide to learning how to become a leader, within my chapter, undergraduate classes and the other organizations I joined as a collegian; while the Fellows Program helped me shape my leadership skills for life post-graduation. These opportunities inspired me to reach for higher professional goals and gave me the skill sets to do so. If it weren’t for the Fellows Program, I truly don’t think I would be where I am professionally and I would have missed out on the lasting Alpha Phi connections I have made.

Top 5 ways I benefited from attending ELI and Fellows Program:

  • I strengthened my communication and interviewing skills tremendously. I learned how to rattle off a 30 second elevator speech, which highlights all of my professional and leadership skills.
  • I was introduced to a network of sisters who have supported me from all over North America. Some of my best friends are Alpha Phis I met through these programs and even though we live states apart I keep in contact with these women on a daily basis and visit them as often as possible.
  • Due to the generous financial support of Alpha Phi Foundation, I was able to participate in both of these life-changing opportunities. The programs pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me the opportunity to travel on my own to cities I had never visited before (Indianapolis, Evanston, and Chicago).
  • I built confidence in myself and strengthened the leadership skills I knew I had, but also identified other skills that needed some work. I wasn’t ashamed to admit my weaknesses in these environments because I knew I had a team of women going through the same experience and willing to support me along the way. Imagine being in a room full of top Alpha Phi leaders from across North America, it was both motivating and inspiring.
  • I learned the true definition of what it meant to be a leader and how I could stand up for myself, strive for my goals and most importantly not be intimidated by male leaders in the work force. 
If I could give any single piece of advice to a collegiate member in Alpha Phi, it is to take advantage of these leadership programs. Or, if you’re an alumna and would like to volunteer some of your time, apply to be a facilitator (I also keep in contact with the facilitators from these programs and I can’t thank them enough for all they taught me).

The lessons I learned as a participant of these programs, still ring true in my current everyday life. Following my college graduation from the University of Maine in May 2015, I began working at Alpha Phi International’s Executive Office as a Program Coordinator. While working in this position I also manage a media production company, which I co-found as a senior in college. Working and living in one state, while running a company in another location is not the easiest thing to do as 22 year old, but the Alpha Phi Leadership Programs gave me the skill sets and confidence to meet my goals and become the young professional I am today. I am confident that the experiences I had in both the ELI and Fellows Programs helped to build a solid foundation that I build upon each day. I know that no matter where I go or what I do, the skills that I have gained will serve me well as a leader and as an Alpha Phi.

Kristen Douglass (Delta Nu-Maine)

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