In celebration of our 134th birthday, we decided to focus on the concept of “belonging.” While it looks different for each individual sister, there are themes that run through each sister’s story. We asked three members – a current collegian, an alumna and an alumna initiate – what belonging looked like to them in Alpha Chi Omega. While each sister shared her own unique experiences, each feels like she belonged the day she joined (and before!) and still belongs today.
Collegian Makayla Puckett (Kappa Sigma, University of Southern Mississippi)
For as long as I can remember I wanted a sister. Growing up in a house full of boys I was often outnumbered and left craving deep female friendships. After two years of junior college I seized the opportunity to find sisterhood at the University of Southern Mississippi. Entering formal recruitment, I was hesitant of whether I would be accepted as a junior. Each time I entered Alpha Chi Omega during that week I was reminded of how unique, strong and loved I was. I knew that I had found my home, that I belonged.
During my first semester in Alpha Chi, it was difficult for me to find my place. I finally realized I wasn’t putting in the effort – I was just waiting for it to magically happen. I had the expectation that I would instantly click with 100 best friends. While I didn’t instantly find 100 new best friends, I did find one – my big, Lanie. Then two – McKenzie. Then three – Kathrine. And over the next few months that number grew even higher.
Every time I open up and step out of my comfort zone, I am overwhelmed with the love and support from the women around me. The women of the Kappa Sigma chapter of Alpha Chi Omega truly encourage me to seek the heights. Each time I doubt myself, each time I question my worth, each time I think I am unlovable, each time I need accountability, each time I am unsure, these women are there for me. I am so thankful for the real, strong women in my life who help me to be the best version of myself I can be.
Alumna Anna Gustafson (Epsilon, University of Southern California)
I can’t remember why I signed up for sorority recruitment 10 years ago, but it was one of the best decisions I made in my life. I was attending the University of Southern California where my mom, aunt and uncle were alumni and my brother was two years ahead of me. I look back to the identity I held because of my USC family, and it was all I knew about college. I think I wanted to find my own place in the university, and because I already had a few connections to fraternity life at USC, I went through recruitment. After approaching Alpha Chi Omega on the first day of recruitment, I knew that was where I belonged and didn’t look back.
After completing my undergraduate and graduate programs at USC, I decided to move to Seattle. This is where I have seen the true effects the sorority can have on your life. While I moved to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to my boyfriend, the transition was made so much easier because of my Alpha Chi sisters in Seattle. I had so many Epsilon sisters in the area and met many new sisters right away. I started to feel a sense of belonging in this new city because of them. Over the past four years, I have been involved in Iota Iota as social chair and now the president. Every year we have had so many new sisters move to this area from all over the country. It has been great to be involved in their transition to the new city and to help them figure out how they can belong to the alumnae network in Seattle and throughout the country.
Alumna Initiate Bryanna Anderson (Kappa Tau, University of Connecticut)
Alpha Chi Omega is when I learned that becoming part of something greater than myself would be an experience of a lifetime, even at a non-traditional age! I was approached by a longtime friend and a new member of the University of Connecticut community to assist in establishing Alpha Chi Omega on campus. Little did I know this longtime friend and new connection were going to become my sisters in the bond and I was going to find a place in the sisterhood and fill a part of myself I didn’t know was missing.
I soon became a faculty advisor, intellectual development advisor and an alumna initiate. While I started by providing a favor for a friend, I have ended up as a sister with endless opportunities to connect with real, strong women across the country. In addition to my advising roles, I have also recently been able to participate on the national level as a member of NAIP. NAIP is the National Alumnae Initiate Panel, and we work to identify and support women interested in joining the sisterhood beyond the collegiate years.
I am incredibly fortunate to have been provided with this opportunity and simply could not imagine my life without Alpha Chi Omega. I have been able to connect with women across the country, across generations and across chapters, which has enhanced my outlook on sorority life. There has not been a single day since November 2014 that I have questioned my decision to get involved. I will be forever thankful to Allison Foster (Gamma Chi, Stetson University) and Alessia Satterfield (Xi, University of Nebraska – Lincoln); without these women, I may never have known the beauty of Alpha Chi Omega.
If it has been a while since you have thought about the reasons you belong in Alpha Chi Omega, I encourage you to think about our seven Founders and the steps they took to ensure that each sister of Alpha Chi Omega would have a place to belong for 134 years and beyond. It’s safe to say Alpha Chi Omega looks very different today than it did in 1885, but every one of us belongs just the same.