Name: Jenna Williamson
Chapter and university of initiation: Alpha Pi (University of North Dakota)
Current volunteer role(s): Leadership Development Specialist, Leadership Academy Facilitator 2019/2020
What do you do in your main volunteer role? What have you learned from that experience?
As a leadership development specialist, I have the opportunity to work with chapters and members through all leadership growth opportunities. Many times, this means assisting with officer transitions, executive board retreats, chapter retreats and document reviews around these areas. Leadership development is an important part of the Alpha Chi Omega experience, it is one of our national membership standards, and by volunteering in this area I feel inspired and rooted in the values that shape our organization. Through this experience I have learned that leadership development and volunteering have a lot of overlap. The drivers of both are to foster connection, shape a community, learn something new, shape change, set goals and work through challenges with a constructive, positive attitude. I’ve also learned that growth is an ongoing opportunity and Alpha Chi Omega has the potential to develop this far beyond the collegiate experience.
How did you become involved as an Alpha Chi Omega volunteer?
As a junior, I joined Alpha Chi Omega late in the game; this meant my collegiate member experience was condensed and it drove me to seek opportunities beyond the couple of collegiate years I had experienced. Embracing the Real. Strong. Women. mentality, I reached out to headquarters shortly before going into alumna status and was connected with the right person to help me get into the right volunteer role. I started in a role that was focused on Programs with Purpose and then later transitioned to the leadership development team. More recently, I have branched beyond those roles and found other ways to connect as an alumna member and volunteer including Leadership Academy, local events and summit/convention opportunities.
Why is volunteering with Alpha Chi Omega important to you?
Volunteering has provided me the opportunity to make connections and create an impact all while providing a safe harbor and support network from the busy day-to-day tasks that life provides. This is why volunteering with Alpha Chi Omega is so important to me – the connections and the potential. First, it is an organization I believe in and hope to share with others. Second, it is a great learning opportunity, and volunteering allows me to stay connected and in tune with the current climate of student affairs and related organizations. Finally, volunteering is a blast, and I can feel the meaningful impact volunteering makes both for myself and others.
What is your favorite Alpha Chi Omega memory as an alumna?
Creating new friends across the country through my volunteer experience and experiencing that initial hello blossom into commonality is one of my favorite memories/must dos. As an alumna, I have been provided the opportunity to travel and connect with members from all around the U.S. The opportunity to meet individuals with different backgrounds and expertise is endless and more than once have I met a sister who lives in the same town/state/region. On the opposite end of that, this past year as a volunteer at Leadership Academy, I became friends with another sister volunteering, Brandy Reagan (Delta Chi, William Woods University), who lives thousands of miles away for me. We stay connected through text messages, GIFs, snail mail and random gifts. It is one of the most valuable, supportive and fun relationships I’ve cultivated. The bonds of sisterhood stretch far and wide if you cast yourself into the universe and are willing to receive; you never know who you can meet. Finding likeminded women who support each other from near and far has to be one of my favorite alumna experiences.
Why should alumnae become volunteers for Alpha Chi Omega?
Volunteers really do create an impact and I would recommend volunteering to any Alpha Chi Omega alumnae looking to share their passion, time, talent or enjoyment of Alpha Chi. It is a great opportunity to connect with people, and there is a role out there for anyone. Volunteering has the opportunity to get you out of your comfort zone and yet have a safety net to catch you as you grow. I’ve learned new skills through my volunteer experience that continue to support me both at home and at work while engaging with a number of interesting, knowledgeable people along the way. It is a way to give back and remain dedicated. Also, it is a ton of fun and who doesn’t like fun!?