March 29, 2017

The Power of Legacy

It is crowded on the main staircase and all of my sisters are wearing blue dresses that range from carolina to cobalt. I am squeezing the waist of the sister beside me and the tip of my heel is resting on the calf of the sister directly in front of me. We are all getting ready to smile and preparing to walk down the staircase as one like a cascading waterfall and not like a rippled wave. There is a knock at the door and the recruitment chair opens it just enough for a recruitment counselor to slide a hand decorated clipboard through. The clipboard contains a hundred names of potential new members who are waiting in the Florida summer heat on the front steps of 123 N. Copeland, eager to come inside.

“Jones, Siedman, Colella, out of line,” our recruitment chair calls up the stairs after looking over the all of the names on the clipboard. “Joura, Putnam, Stelter, legacies!”

As our recruitment chair calls my name, my heart begins to pound in my chest and the smile on my face becomes real, no longer rehearsed. Because she is an Alpha Phi legacy, the young woman that I am about to meet has more in common with me than she knows.

A few years ago, I was late into my terrible teens and dying to run off to college at Florida State, a thousand miles away from home. I craved the independence that comes with being a collegiate. Unlike most parents, my mom wasn’t worried about me, especially because she had already signed me up for formal recruitment. She knew that I would soon belong to a chapter, a sisterhood of more than two hundred women who would have my best interest in mind. They would take care of me the way her Alpha Phi sisters took care of her at Penn State.

I am definitely my mother’s daughter, but I was eager to be my own person. The power of legacy didn’t quite click in my head until I went to Alpha Phi on skit day of recruitment. On stage, four sisters met for brunch; the youngest sister was about to go to college and her biological sisters were trying to persuade her to go through recruitment. Each of the three multi-talented older sisters—a singing southern belle, a brainiac dancer, and an all-star fashionista—had been a member of Alpha Phi. Despite their differences, they all found a home there and thrived, becoming the best versions of themselves. This skit alleviated any qualms I was having about joining the same sorority as my mom.

All of that week, my mom stayed unbiased. We’d talked every night about the amazing women I was meeting, about the involvement opportunities I was learning about, and about how excited I was not only for bid day, but my first day of college. I kept it a secret until bid day that I knew I wanted to be my mom’s sorority sister because I knew I could still be my own independent self, creating my own experiences and also strengthen our bond. On bid day, my mom could barely hold in her excitement on the receiving end of the phone call as I told her that I was a new member at the Gamma Phi chapter of Alpha Phi. We have always been close, but becoming sorority sisters has brought us so much closer. My mom has always been my mother first, but she was also my first role model and my first friend. Now, she is my sister. My mom has walked the same walk as me and it is an absolute honor to follow her footsteps!

The multi-generational legacies in Alpha Phi are ones to truly treasure. At the Gamma Phi chapter, there are many sets of biological sisters sharing incredible experiences. Many women, like me have Alpha Phi mothers and others also have Alpha Phi grandmothers. In Alpha Phi, legacy isn’t just tradition, it is an extended family. For this reason, chapters even initiate the unaffiliated mothers of Alpha Phi sisters so they can experience the incredible bond between Alpha Phi sisters and grow together. The power of the Alpha Phi legacy is in the celebration of sisterhood. Each generation of women contributing to this legacy is what makes Alpha Phi so timeless!

Sydney Stelter is a member of the Gamma Phi chapter at Florida State University. To read more about her, click here.

March 2, 2017

Being Greek: Breaking Down Stereotypes

From the singing and clapping by the massive front door as a welcome ritual to last minute formal dress shopping frenzies to bursting over the news that you got a Little, being in a sorority is full of unique—and to the outsider, eyebrow raising experiences.

When I first joined Alpha Phi as a freshman in college, I was asked multiple times by old friends from my high school days if I was sure what I had got myself into. They asked questions about what the process was like to join a sorority; they commented with rolled eyes about the stereotypes and challenged me to explain my choices to them. They were curious if it was a party culture and demanded to know if it was “like the movies.” 

Now, after being an active-member in Alpha Phi for four years, I can openly laugh at the ignorance of these conversations, because being Greek is nothing like that. Being Greek isn’t partying every single night of the week, although it is being willing to drop everything and get to your sister’s side any minute of the day with a warm hug and a Diet Coke when emergencies come up. Being Greek is more than a perfectly organized Lilly Pulitzer planner, color coded by function. It’s having a sister there you can call for help when your math homework is confusing. Being Greek doesn’t mean using daddy’s credit card to pay for a third Starbucks of the day; it means raising money—thousands and thousands of dollars—for the Alpha Phi Foundation and for women who suffer from heart disease. 

Being Greek is a chance to meet people—people who want you to succeed on campus and in life. When I joined Alpha Phi, I was involved on campus at a very minor level. I met women in my own chapter who urged and pushed me to join organizations that fit my talents, my passions and my dream-career. They encouraged me because they were already involved; they brought me to meetings for different organizations and eagerly welcomed me into more than just Alpha Phi. I finally felt like I had a place on my college campus and I had room to grow. And, more than my campus, I’ve formed a sisterhood with more than just Alpha Phi. At an airport, it’s not uncommon to casually strike up a conversation with another woman waiting to catch her flight proudly wearing Greek letters. I know in the future that I will proudly meet others who were members of the Greek system in my work environment, and see that they are lawyers and doctors, and watch them on television.
As a member of the Greek community, I’ve heard it all. The good, the bad, and the mean. I’ve responded with boldness towards opinions from others. Being Greek is more than a club or an organization that is only four years, it’s for life. 

Julianne is a member of the Beta Sigma chapter at the University of Utah.To read more about her, click here.