By Autumn Jordan (Tau, Brenau University)
The thought of being an alumna feels a little strange. Perhaps it’s because for four years, you pour your blood, sweat and tears into graduating, and then all of a sudden, you’ve done it. To know that an organization or someone you know may have been changed for the better just by attending a college or university for four years feels so unreal at times. As I sit here with a brain full of Zoom recruitment tips and the Hamilton soundtrack, I cannot help but wonder, “What impact did I leave behind when I graduated?”
You may be thinking, “Autumn, why now are you reflecting on your Alpha Chi Omega journey?” Great question, honestly. Maybe it is because, for the first time in three years, I started August with recruitment visits and not by moving back to the best little pink college in America. I guess I can say now: It’s official. I’m in the next chapter in my life.
Every time I think of my Alpha Chi Omega journey, I think back to my new member period. Eager to know more about the chapter, my member class would sit and listen to the older members rave about their mentors. They’d show us their photos on the composites, and we’d sit and wonder what chapter life must have been like in the 2010s. They all had a zest and a little bit of sass, but most importantly, they were great leaders. These women lived the Symphony, and they were not afraid of change. Many of their accomplishments outlived them way beyond graduation. On May Day (Brenau’s annual alumnae reunion event), we would tell the now alumnae how we heard of their amazing stories and adventures within the chapter. One year, our chapter advisor challenged us to stop dreaming of our goals and the stories that would one day be told and to begin writing them, and so we did.
We joined, signed up, led across campus and did absolutely everything, and yet time still seemed to have gotten the best of us. No matter how many “lasts” we checked off the list, graduation always felt so far away. When you are frolicking through Target and going on food runs with your best friends, time seems to stop. The only time you worry about is 11:59 p.m. when you wonder how quickly you can type that assignment you put off till the last minute. You don’t think twice about your accomplishments or if you you’ve done enough, but the moment we were all told to pack things up when campus closed for the pandemic, that was the first thing I thought about. I always told myself I wanted to leave Brenau better than how I walked in. I wondered, “Did I do all the things I wanted, and did I make an impact?”
Although my time as a collegian might have gotten “cut short” by almost two months, I left campus feeling complete, and I have to thank Alpha Chi Omega for that. I wholeheartedly and confidently could answer all of those questions and the answer was, “Yes, I did everything I loved, and I did my very best with the time I was given.” When my college experience came to an abrupt stop in March, so many emotions flooded in, but regret was not one of them. Thankfully, I had joined an organization that motivated me, supported me and pushed me to be the best version of myself, understanding that time is never promised. Alpha Chi Omega is for life, but college isn’t. You never know when a pandemic will strike!
I wouldn’t have believed that my life would change in four short years. Just like the quote, “So many of my memories begin with you,” so many of my greatest memories and accomplishments began with Alpha Chi Omega, and it all started the moment I was encouraged to seek the heights. Like hundreds of thousands of women across the United States, Alpha Chi Omega was the starting point of my journey. I had the most exceptional experiences, from planning my first recruitment event to leading the chapter as president, and, most recently, having the job of a lifetime as a chapter consultant. Every day I am truly blessed to work for an organization that I love so dearly.
So, did I leave anything behind? I’d like to hope so, but like Lin-Manuel Miranda said, “What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” I guess I will have to wait till the next May Day and many after that to know if my Alpha Chi Omega story truly impacted anyone. Maybe my story won’t live on for 10+ years, and maybe my face on the composites will be another picture one day, but I know what will always remain, and that’s the love and Bond of Alpha Chi Omega. I know I am changed for the better. No matter the distance, no matter the late nights, no matter the years, this organization will always be a part of who I am. And no matter what chapter of my journey I’m in, I’ll always bring a piece of Alpha Chi Omega with me.
Alpha Chi, we love thee. We love thee well.