Why did you join Alpha Chi Omega?
I was the first person in both of my parents’ families to attend college. It was never a “Will you go to college?” discussion, but always a “Someday, when you go to college…” discussion. My parents were enthusiastic and encouraging, and they wanted me to have the full experience. Pledging a sorority at UT Austin was a part of that experience. Why Alpha Chi Omega? Cheryl Holt! Cheryl was my high school friend and someone I trusted and loved being around. I knew that if Cheryl had found her home in Alpha Chi Omega, I could do the same. I essentially pledged for friendship, but little did I know that Alpha Chi would provide me with the opportunity to learn to work collaboratively, provide a safe place to take risks as I planned my future, and teach me to make a difference in my community as a leader and philanthropist.
What makes someone a real, strong woman?
Alpha Chi Omega’s brand holds a special place in my heart. Our brand and tagline were launched at our 2008 National Convention, where I presided as National President. After months of research and focus groups, along with robust conversation amongst the National Council, executive director and marketing staff, we realized Real. Strong. Women. was the perfect definition of Alpha Chi Omegas everywhere. Real means genuine. It means being who you are and taking aim for who you WANT to be no matter where or when you were born! Real is being the best you can be, a “true original.” Strong is living with a purpose in your heart. It is being strong in body, mind and character. A strong woman dreams big, isn’t afraid, looks for opportunities and accepts challenges. It is seeking to reach the heights today, tomorrow and always. It is who we are!
How has Alpha Chi Omega empowered you as an alumna?
Past National Presidents in Indianapolis, IN. Front row, left to right: Karen Aunan Miley (1976-1980), Ellen Little Vanden Brink (1988-1992), Judy Evans Anderson (1992-96). Back row, left to right: Marsha King Grady (2008-2012), Donna Smith Chereck (2004-08), Diane Wilson Blackwelder (2012-16), Julie Cain Burkhard (2000-04), Angela Costley Harris (2016-)
Alpha Chi Omega gives me amazing opportunities in so many ways! As an educator, I’ve had the opportunity to model and mentor young women in my recruitment advisor and chapter advisor roles. As an NPC delegation member who works with our collegiate chapters and many college campus Panhellenics and as National President, I had the opportunity to be the ultimate brand ambassador for Alpha Chi Omega. This amazing organization has given me the self-confidence to be brave and to look at challenges as opportunities. I am empowered to be solution oriented. I’m also empowered to ask for help when I know I can’t go on a tough road alone. I have sisters who will always have my back and be at my side. I am empowered to partner with our NPC sisters and NIC brothers to advocate for and work to preserve this amazing experience called sorority for generations of young women who will come after me!
In your opinion, how does Social Excellence Training empower the women in our Fraternity?
Social Excellence Training is all about how to be on your best game! It is about learning how to market and sell the Alpha Chi Omega experience. How to engage in meaningful conversations where the potential new member is encouraged to share her interests and dreams. Social Excellence Training takes the focus off of “I” and turns the focus to “YOU.” It is about learning and appreciating what Alpha Chi Omega looks for in a member: academic interest, personal development, character and financial responsibility. All the membership standards that have ensured Alpha Chi Omega is a premier organization for women!
Why do you support our sisterhood by giving to Alpha Chi Omega?
Quite simply, to ensure that this experience that has been transformational in my life continues on and on for current collegians, alumnae and all those young women who are yet to wear our lyre badge. I strongly believe that if all our members are educated to understand the “why” of raising Foundation dollars, they will understand and support the Foundation. The Foundation was created to support educational programming for our members. The reason it continues is the same: to provide educational programs and support initiatives for domestic violence awareness. Supporting Alpha Chi Omega with my time and my financial donations makes me feel good! Supporting my sisters gives me a deep personal satisfaction of having contributed to the greater good of Alpha Chi Omega