October 26, 2016

Collegiate Perspective: Always Wearing our Letters

As fall sets in and the cold, Wisconsin weather starts to turn frigid, the girls of the Delta Kappa chapter know temperature isn’t any reason to sacrifice fashion! In addition to always looking our best, something that’s important to our chapter is representation. We realize that we’re always wearing our letters, whether they’re clearly visible or not. It’s something we teach our new members as soon as they’re initiated. This is important since Alpha Phis are such a small (but growing!) percentage of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus, and we know it’s vital to give the best impression we can.

A little cold weather never stopped any true Midwesterner from dressing their best. In fact, Chapter President Bre Vey often prescribes to the motto, “Dress good, feel good, do good,” especially since achieving her position last spring. In fact, she actually accredits a lot of her daily confidence to being a member of Alpha Phi. Bre shared with me how she’s developed as a person because of Alpha Phi and how it’s allowed to have experiences that helped her character development that she would never have had before joining during her freshman year.
“Just being in my position, knowing that I’m leading my entire chapter, I’ve been able to open up and be confident. I love going up to new people and sharing my experience in Alpha Phi and I want them to feel as passionate about Greek Life as I do. When I first started, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.” Vey said. She also talked about how before she became President, clothing wasn’t always the first thing she thought of, especially on an exam day. But now, Bre wants to showcase herself as a campus leader, someone who is always put together and looking her best, even when things get tough.

While a large part of most of our chapter’s fall and winter wardrobe consists of leggings, scarves and other comfy clothing, we definitely loves to shine during any formal event. From gorgeous, glittery floor length dresses at formal to adorable flowered rompers during meetings, our girls know what to wear. ”A good outfit can really make your day. I feel like everyone just notices you more and you suddenly have way more confidence in yourself,” says Jade, an Alpha Phi junior at LaCrosse.  

Not only does a great outfit give you more confidence, but it’s also one way that many members bond. A quick compliment from an older member as they walk past each other on campus can make their day and a borrowed red dress, feather boa or red white and blue top from a new pledge class sister can create the beginning of a friendship that lasts for years.

All of these ways in which we express ourselves as Alpha Phis make up a part of who we are. We dress for success and wear our letters constantly because it expresses how proud we are to be a member of this organization. We’re always showing the world that we’re more than just a group of women who meet a couple of times a week and hangs out together all the time. We’re strong, intelligent, beautiful, unique, outgoing, innovative, passionate, caring and a thousand other adjectives, and we are trying to make a positive difference in the world. When I asked senior and Panhellenic President Dana Hungness what about Alpha Phi makes her feel most confident, she said that “being surrounded by people who I know support me. I feel like I can do anything, conquer anything, when I’m surrounded by the right group of people, Alpha Phis. And a good outfit never hurts.” 

Whether we throw on a hoodie with our letters splashed across the back, or carefully choose the perfect dress and heels ensemble, UW-L Alpha Phis wear more than just their clothing. We wear the expectations that we constantly strive to live up to, the letters that have given us a family away from home, and the confidence that shows that with our sisters, we are supported, loved and an amazing group of women.

Ellie Brown is a collegiate member at the Delta Kappa chapter at University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. To learn more about Ellie, click here.

October 20, 2016

Collegiate Perspective: Creating Tradition with Red Dress Gala

Excitement surrounds the Kappa Alpha chapter as we prepare for our very first Red Dress Gala. On November 4, members will gather with parents, friends and alumnae for a night of celebration to raise awareness and funds for women’s heart health.

Chapters across the nation hold Red Dress Galas in hopes of educating the public on women’s heart health and raising funds for Alpha Phi Foundation. Our chapter is only two years old, and we are thrilled to already be hosting a Gala to establish our own traditions for our beloved fraternity. This event is unique to the UNC Chapel Hill Greek life community, and it is a great source of pride for our chapter.

Our gala planning began last February, and since then our chapter has worked diligently to ensure a magical evening for all attendees. Event Director Jenny Baker, has collaborated with our wonderful alumnae, advisors and consultants, receiving both their guidance and inspiration. The night will begin with a cocktail hour where members can meet each other’s families and alumni from all around. Then guests will be guided to walk along a hallway where baskets and other auction items will be displayed.

All members created baskets with their families within the chapter. The baskets all have special themes and are the event’s main way of raising funds for the night. My family’s theme was jewelry, and we received donations from Kendra Scott and other designers. We are excited to see the total funds our first gala will garner for our beloved philanthropy. The night will continue after the silent auction with live music, a three course meal and a speaker, Juliann Gardner. Juliann is a heart attack survivor and works closely with the American Heart Association. Juliann was invited to speak at the event after we heard her moving speech at a similar heart health event. We are excited for our chapter and guests to hear her speak about her life-altering experience and the importance of heart health.

The details of the night seem to be in perfect order, but Events Director Jenny Baker says it hasn’t all been easy. The biggest challenge she has had to face was getting people motivated and on board for the chapter’s first Red Dress Gala. “I’ve had to explain in great detail how this will have such a great impact on our philanthropy and that each member’s efforts are critical to the success of the evening,” Baker said. It might have taken a bit of motivating, but with the whole chapter on board, we hope the night will run seamlessly and our goals will be met.

One of the most exciting things members are looking forward to is their families getting the chance at seeing what a sorority really is all about: sisters rallying around a great cause and supporting one another in our efforts to benefit our fraternity as a whole. I know I am itching to see the night come together. I can’t wait to kick off what I know will be one of my favorite traditions here at Carolina.

If you or someone you know are interested in attending please contact jenbaker@live.unc.edu

Mikayla Tencer is a collegiate member at the Kappa Alpha chapter at UNC Chapel Hill. To learn more about Mikayla, click here.

October 11, 2016

Inside the EO: Kathy Gerlach

What is your name?
Kathy Gerlach

Where are you originally from?
Bridgeview, IL

Where did you attend college and what chapter were you a part of there?
Purdue University – Delta Mu

What was your major in college?
Business major with a minor in Computer Science

What was your plan post-graduation? 
My plan was to work in the IT field. I started my career at Ford Motor Company in Detroit, MI, as a programmer/analyst. I received my MBA in Finance from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Why did you decide to work for Alpha Phi International Fraternity?
I had been at home raising my 2 daughters for the last 10 years. As I thought about what the next phase of life would look like for me, I considered going back to work or looking for a volunteer opportunity I could be passionate about. 

What is your job title? 
Coordinator of Alumnae Chapter Development

How long have you been working for Alpha Phi?
I have been working for Alpha Phi for 3 weeks.

What is your favorite memory of Alpha Phi—as a collegian, alumna, or staff member?
My favorite memories are of the late nights hanging out with my sisters in the Delta Mu house.

What do you like best about working at the Executive Office?
I like working at the Executive Office because I am learning so much about Alpha Phi. I also love that every day we are making a difference in young women’s lives.

What are some of your goals for the next few years?
My goals are to transition back into the working world, and continue with my volunteer positions in my Alpha Phi alumnae group as well as the Panhellenic alumnae group. 

Do you have any advice for current collegiate members?
Have goals for post graduation, not just “get a job." If there is a graduate degree you want to pursue, a place you want to live or a company you want to work for - set goals for achieving those things.

October 5, 2016

Collegiate Perspective: Destroying Sorority Stereotypes

As a society, we love to label people, places, and things. Some labels are positive, some negative, but why is it that sororities continue to be categorized negatively, more now than ever? Could we have gone too far with our generalizations?

Now, when I say “we” I mean all of us as a Greek community; we have witnessed first-hand that it does not matter who commits the negative action, but it matters that they are Greek and we as Greeks take the blame together. We fall together, but in order to fix it do we need to take action individually?

Call me crazy, but I think the future will be changed by our individual actions. Lets think about the stereotypes that we have fallen victim to:

Sorority girls aren’t the smartest
Sorority girls are always late
Sorority girls do nothing but party
Sorority girls don’t get good grades

The list goes on, when we wear our letters, we are immediately judged. These preconceived notions come from invisible tags that hang from our letters. If you are like me, you wear Alpha Phi everything, half my closet is lettered merchandise. When I wear my letters I know it is expected of me to hold myself to the highest ideals and understand that these negative labels do not define me. As sorority women it is our job to protect our letters.

We should wear our letters proud, and understand what it means to represent an entire group of women. We must wake up with the intention of conducting ourselves according to the highest standards.

We carry the responsibility, and in order to break the biases that others have, we must give them new ones. Here are my tips:
  •        Be on time
  •         Say “Please” and “Thank You”
  •         Be friendly and kind
  •         Remember the importance of academics
  •         Set priorities
  •         Build connections
  •         Leave lasting impressions
  •         Smile
The bottom line is that if we are women that carry ourselves with dignity and poise, people are going to begin to believe what they see, not what the stereotypes portray us as. The way that you represent yourself will pave the way for the ones that follow.  Lead by example, lead with pride. We have a new image to build, and it looks nothing like our last one.

 Yasmin Quintana is a collegiate member at California State University Northridge (Epsilon Upsilon). To learn more about Yasmin, click here.