Feature Leadership

Discovering My Leadership Potential

By Candace Martin (Zeta Upsilon, Case Western Reserve University)

Growing up, I was fairly shy. When I started college at Case Western Reserve University, I was excited about the possibility of expanding my horizons. I felt so eager to figure out who I was and to find my voice. Nothing helped me to do so more than joining Alpha Chi Omega.

My sophomore year, a friend encouraged me to go through sorority recruitment. I wasn’t sure about the process, but I tried to keep an open mind. I told myself that it would be an interesting experience, no matter what.

When I met the women of Alpha Chi Omega, I remember thinking that they were all so kind and genuine. I felt like I could truly be myself around them. I was so impressed when I learned about their philanthropy, domestic violence awareness and prevention. I found myself sharing with them that this was a cause near and dear to my heart, something that I wasn’t often quick to open up about. They made me feel comfortable and welcome, like I’d found somewhere I really belonged.

When I first joined, I never would have expected to be a leader. At one point, I decided that I wanted to get the most out of my sorority experience; I wanted to challenge myself to become the best real, strong woman I could be. I was approached about serving as vice president finance. I was elected and was surprised by how much I enjoyed leading. After that term ended, I caught myself dreaming about serving as president. With the encouragement of some of my sisters, I ran for president and won. I went on to serve as personal development chair, Domestic Violence Awareness Week co-chair and vice president of administration for Panhellenic. I was even elected president a second time! I loved the feeling of supporting my sisters in reaching their goals.

My time in Alpha Chi Omega lit a fire that’s never gone out. Since 2016, I’ve worked as a university program coordinator. In my position, I do administrative work to support college students and ensure that they meet their academic goals. In 2017, I served as chair of my city’s International Women’s Day planning committee, leading 20 committee members from 10 local universities and nonprofits. We secured more than $10,000 in co-sponsorships and put on an event that featured a world-renowned artist and activist and three interactive workshops. It had more than 200 attendees.

After reflecting on this experience and my time in Alpha Chi Omega, I realized how important leadership positions are to me. About two years ago, I decided to go back to school for my MBA. During my MBA program, I’ve worked with lots of different people; last year, I led an international expansion project with a group that consisted of myself and four members from Taiwan. I think that my time in Alpha Chi Omega gave me not only leadership skills, but also the communication and time management skills that are necessary to succeed in the business world. I’m graduating in June in the top 20% of my class.

I can’t speak highly enough of my collegiate experience in Alpha Chi Omega. I was able to test out my leadership skills in an environment where I knew I had the support of my sisters. It’s hard to imagine a better scenario to find yourself as a person and a leader. As I look toward to the future of my career, I am indebted to Alpha Chi Omega for my growth and development. I know that whatever steps I take next, Alpha Chi Omega made them possible.