Greek Life: Taking a Step Back

I’ve been an active part of my sorority since I joined back in 2010. From being on committees to taking on a lot of different positions, I have learned the ins and outs of my organization. For years I’ve put my heart into TPA, but I’ve gotten to the point in my life and education that I’ve been forced to take a step back.

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I’m graduating at the end of this year, so these last two semesters are going to be packed with final courses and internships. There just isn’t enough time to accomplish everything I need to academically and financially on top of all of the sorority obligations. I had to prioritize and do what is best for me in the long run. That just happens to mean fewer sorority events. In the end I know I’ll be much happier not trying to kill myself by doing everything. It’s just going to be weird not being a part of a lot of things.

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Greek Life: Eastern Michigan Food Bank

This past weekend my sorority volunteered at the Eastern Michigan Food Bank packing boxes for the holidays. We made it a mixer with the university’s Chemistry Club. What a great time it was doing something for others and getting to see such a ridiculously amazing organization at work.

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Greek Life: Crafts with Kids

Tonight I volunteered with a few sisters on campus. We helped the YWCA host a “Night Out for Women and Children” where the mothers were pampered in one room and the children did crafts with us in another. I’m a sucker for crafts.

Greek Life: Fall 2012 Recruitment

Another year flew by and I found myself back at formal recruitment. This was my second year on the “inside” of recruitment and much to my surprise it was a lot different than last year. I contribute the drastic change to my presidential status within the chapter. Plus my own recruitment was two years ago, making me feel a lot older than I actually am.

It was awesome to see all the new, excited faces of girls who wanted to join a sorority, but have no clue what it’s really all about. They talked about making new friends and getting more involved, but it won’t be for a few months until they truly understand what a sorority is really all about.

To me a sorority is a blessing, a headache, a stresser, a motivator, and an omnipresent being that makes you a better person through it all. Every year recruitment is said to be the most stressful time, and maybe that’s true to some extent, but I didn’t feel it this year. Sure the nights got lengthy, but to me it flew by leaving me feel like I only got to know a few girls.

I did manage to develop a crush on one of the potential new members. I knew the other two sororities were eying her too, but luckily she decided that my sorority would be her new home!

Recruitment brought back a lot of emotions for me. I thought a lot about my family tree and how we’re all growing up and moving on but still there for each other.

I’m also glad to have my best friend no longer a recruitment counselor so she can wear our letters again and hang out with me in public. I’m curious to see what happens in the next year and how our new girls fit into the chapter. It’s going to be an interesting rest of the semester.

Greek Life: Convention Day 4

The morning came quite quickly and we were off on another busy day. After breakfast we boarded tour buses and headed into downtown Ann Arbor for a tour of notable locations and Theta Phi Alpha points of interest. We stopped at a cemetery where three of the sorority’s founders reside. It was a beautiful site to see sisters from many generations paying tribute to some of the women that made all of this possible.

A few stops later we found ourselves at the location of the first chapter house. Although different from the original house in 1912, it was still very moving to see where Theta Phi had its beginnings.

I didn’t spend much time exploring Ann Arbor seeing as I had been there a few weeks before celebrating my birthday. I had also discovered that morning that I had an assignment due for my online class tomorrow morning. Back to the hotel I went to work on the assignment. We then all got dressed in badge attire for the Ever Loyal, Ever Lasting Dinner. This dinner was different from the ones previous since more of my chapter sisters were going to be in attendance. It was so awesome to see them and share some of convention with them!

The rest of the evening was filled with Songfest and other shenanigans. There were photo booths, singing, giant letters, and ice cream.

It was a blast running around doing silly stuff with sisters, but we made sure to stop into the Archives exhibit to see some of the amazing history of Theta Phi Alpha. My favorite part was seeing the Chain of Chapters and finding Beta Lambda’s link. This week has really opened my eyes to how much bigger Theta Phi Alpha truly is than just my little chapter in Flint, Michigan. What a truly humbling experience.

Greek Life: Convention Day 3

To be honest, today was definitely not one of the more exciting, action-packed days of convention thus far, but it still had a quite a lot of merit. Waking up bright and early again, we had the typical breakfast foods, but the meal was slightly different than breakfasts prior. There was a memorial service for any recently deceased sisters that was incredibly touching and nearly had me in tears very early in the morning. then headed out to the giant wedding tent to practice ritual for the upcoming business meeting. The tent contained a flag for every chapter, colony, and alumni association of Theta Phi Alpha.

After we learned the ins and outs of the meeting about to take place, we went back into the convention center for the Siena Medal Luncheon.

Elizabeth Smart was the recipient of the award this year. She was the girl who was kidnapped and held hostage for over nine months back in 2002. She told us about the kidnapping, rape, and what she learned from the whole experience. It was such an amazing opportunity being able to hear her speak and I found myself riveted to every word coming out of her mouth. She was so sweet, so polite, and never in a million years deserved to have that happen to her. And yet she became an even better person because of it. I can only hope to be half the person she exuded standing up there in front of us.

Once lunch was over we headed back into the tent to conduct the five hour business session. Business sessions are private meetings so I won’t be discussing what happened, but we were able to take a few photos before the meeting started.

After a very tiring number of hours were finally over, it was time for the Celebrating Sisterhood dinner. The room was set up like a birthday party of sorts for Theta Phi, with party hats and all. Dinner was decent (chicken yet again) and we were all given birthday cupcakes for dessert.

The awards followed dinner and each chapter got awarded with a certificate of achievement listing any sort of accomplishments from the past two years. Then the big awards were handed out. My chapter, Beta Lambda, sat there as other chapters received all sorts of amazing awards. We were not expecting to get anything when all of a sudden our name was called to receive an award for recruitment and pledge sister retention. Our utter shock was incredibly audible.

The awards wrapped up and just like previous nights, I retired to the room to write this blog post and get some sleep. A fun day of tours and free time are in store tomorrow.

Greek Life: Convention Day 2

When my feet hit the floor this morning they were going non-stop for the entire day. Never has so much been packed into a day; bringing a whirlwind of emotions on top of a mix of exhaustion and inspiration. After a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, and various pastries, I took part in initiating two very special people. The two women we initiated into Theta Phi Alpha were actually related to one of the original founders. It was a moving ritual that invested my heart a little deeper into TPA.

Lunch was the first time during convention I didn’t like what was being offered, but we had eaten not long before so it really was no big deal. I spent some money on various Theta Phi at the penguin shoppe and then got ready for the Centennial Banquet.

We left the hotel for this meal and headed into Ann Arbor to the Michigan University Union. The hall was absolutely beautiful, with the tables incredibly fancy. I never imagined convention to be so formal, fancy, and beautiful when I was envisioning the week in my mind.

The dinner was decent, but all the presentations and speeches afterward were what really made the evening a special one for me. Since we were celebrating TPA’s 100th birthday every attendee was given a box filled with goodies of companies also celebrating their 100th birthdays this year.

And then Mari Ann Callais, a past national president of Theta Phi Alpha gave the most amazing keynote speech I have ever heard. There were songs, stories from fellow sisters, laughs, and even a few tears. It brought out so many feelings of solidarity, understanding, and perseverance for me that I never thought were possible.

We took the buses back to the hotel and I was just so tired and overwhelmed from everything (plus it was after 10pm) that I decided to spend some time alone to reflect and then head to bed.

I’m positive this experience is changing me with every minute spent here.

Greek Life: Convention Day 1

The day started bright and early at 6am. Luckily I had done the bulk of my packing the night before so I only had to put in the things I had to use that morning. Our chapter President Nicole picked me up and then we went to get our Fundraising Chair Candice. After turning around twice for forgotten items we were on our way to the airport to greet sisters.

Approaching sisters at the airport was a little nerve-racking, but as soon as they saw our letters everyone was excited to see each other. Already in the spirit of convention, we took some photos.

We got to the convention center/hotel around noon and after struggling to get our giant suitcases out of the trunk we checked in.

After check in we got ourselves situated in our room and then put our first badge attire on. We then headed to our pre-convention workshops.

The workshops were informative and entertaining, but I was starving by the end of the three hour meeting. Luckily dinner was delicious.

There was another meeting after dinner followed by a hospitality suite with snacks. I was exhausted from the intense day and didn’t stay long before heading up to the room, took notes about ideas learned from the workshops, and headed to bed. I’m very excited to see what tomorrow has in store.

Greek Life: The Eve of Convention

Since I am Vice President of my chapter of Theta Phi Alpha sorority, I was given an all-expenses paid trip to our national convention in Ann Arbor, MI. I’ve never been to a convention before, and it so happens that this year is TPA’s 100th birthday. So if there was ever a convention to attend it would be this one.

I’m excited and nervous because it’s a whole week-long experience I’ve never had before. Packing was stressful because there are a lot of business attire events to attend. I just don’t know what to expect.

I know I’ve been given a very amazing opportunity to learn more about Theta Phi Alpha beyond my own chapter and I hope that I’m able to get past my anxiety and enjoy the week.

All photos are mine or were created by me.