Monday, March 30, 2015

Founders' Day - AXO // KO

Tonight, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at Alpha Chi Omega's chapter meeting about my experience as a founding member of the Kappa Omicron chapter at HPU. Our Founders' Day is tomorrow. I can't believe that it's been three years since we installed our chapter. What an awesome experience it was...
I was so glad they asked me to do speak tonight. I had so much to say - there are so many reasons why AChiO has been so great for me. I had to condense all my feelings into a few pages. This is what I said:
All throughout college, I never had any intentions of joining a sorority.  I felt like I’d have to be a certain way or do certain things to fit a mold. But during my senior year at High Point University (and I was a fifth year senior), I found out we were gaining a new sorority.  I started to think that maybe this could be a good idea for me. I remember googling Alpha Chi Omega, because I didn’t know that much about it. I looked at the philanthropy, the history, etc. I thought it sounded like a perfect fit because I love pearls (my blog name is Sweet Southern Pearl) and I love red and green because Christmas is my favorite so it was all perfect! But in all seriousness, I was intrigued by everything I read. I loved the philanthropy, the rich history rooted in music, the stories of the original founding sisters, and I loved the idea of starting something new and not having to worry about hazing. I’ve always been a firm believer in tradition and loved paving my own way at the same time, so honestly, I felt like I’d be foolish not to seize this opportunity. Sure, I’d be joining a sorority as I was on my way out of college. I wouldn’t have much time as a collegiate member, but gosh, it just seemed like such a fabulous idea. I could hardly wait until the next semester. This was fall of 2011, and I was going through a really hard time because my grandmother was really sick, and she actually passed away during this time, and I remember thinking that it would be really good for me to have something like Alpha Chi Omega to put my time and energy into to, and something to look forward to after such a devastating loss.

              I immediately emailed the girl whose contact info was posted, and got a quick response.  By the end of the night, I decided that January couldn't come soon enough.
Later, after joining AChiO – around February of 2012, I wrote in a blog post:
“I couldn't see any reason not to do it.  Founding a sorority chapter seemed really fun to me.  We got a new chapter of Sigma Sigma Sigma two years ago, and I knew girls who had been founding members of that organization and said it was a wonderful experience.

So here were the pros of Alpha Chi Omega's new chapter at HPU:
-I will have founding member status.
-As a founding member, I can help make the rules.
-My dad always told me, "Be a leader, not a follower."
-It won't matter that I'm a senior because it will be different than joining a chapter that's already been established on campus. 
-What better way to leave my mark on HPU as I'm headed out??"

               I was very nervous when Alpha Chi recruitment got rolling in January. I didn’t really know anything at all about recruitment and I had just started student teaching and wasn’t sure that I’d have much time to dedicate. I was caught in that awkward stage of being an authority figure while I was student teaching high school seniors and being still a college student myself, trying to savor, cherish, and enjoy my last few months. But I remember going to that first interest meeting and thinking I’d never met so many sweet and friendly women in one place before. “I have to do this!!” I thought. Girls of all ages were interested – I wasn’t the only senior, and I was very glad to know that I wasn’t alone! We went through an interview process with ladies from Headquarters. All the ladies I met were so classy, warm, and friendly. I was so impressed.

              I’ve always loved making friends, and Alpha Chi Omega was so perfect because it provided me with the opportunity to get to know so many women that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to know. My last few months of undergraduate school were so happy and memorable, mostly thanks to Alpha Chi Omega and all the wonderful friends I made through it. We made history. We were the very first Alpha Chi Omegas at High Point University. The very first in the Kappa Omicron chapter. I was the first VP of Ritual and Fraternity Appreciation. We had no clue what we were doing, but we had so much fun learning and paving the way for future generations. Fond memories of warm spring days on our gorgeous campus, trying to figure out what the heck we were doing will forever be in my mind when I think of my time as a collegiate member. But of course we had an amazing support team in our advisory board.

              I loved the all the activities so much – the socials, the sisterhood events, twin reveal, Panhellenic and Greek life events, and just getting to know some really awesome girls. The decision to join AChiO right before graduating is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve never wished I had joined a different sorority freshman or sophomore year – only that Alpha Chi Omega had been established earlier in my college career. It showed me that joining a sorority didn't have to mean that I conformed to a mold - each of us is different and awesome in our own way.

              Since graduating from HPU, I have still been involved with Alpha Chi Omega. I went on to attend graduate school at Appalachian State University for two years, but since my family lived in High Point, I came back all the time and got to see my AXO sisters who were still at HPU. My second year at Appalachian, one of our other founding sisters, Kacie Lake, shared an apartment with my brother and I. In Alpha Chi I found a roommate, best friends, mentors for life - I'm constantly in contact with Candy Tickle and Linda Greene and consider them to be mentors and role models in both Alpha Chi Omega and life in general.

              About a year and a half ago, I took on the role of president for Theta Rho Theta, the triad's alumnae chapter. It’s been such a blessing to still be involved, especially since I didn’t have a lengthy collegiate experience. I’m  constantly meeting sisters I haven’t met before. I got the pleasure of helping with some of the recruitment events at the brand-new chapter of AChiO at UNC-Charlotte. And I'm always thinking of ways to better Theta Rho Theta so that we can keep the Bond alive. I’m so excited so see what the future holds for me as far as Alpha Chi Omega goes because it’s really something special that I’ll always have, and I’m so glad that the experience didn’t just stop at college. Throughout life, y’all will make connections based on AChiO that you may not have otherwise made. The organization will open doors for you that wouldn’t have otherwise been opened because of these connections. I’m so grateful for the bond and the sisterhood, and I will forever be proud to be a founding sister of Kappa Omicron.
 Image result for alpha chi omega symphony

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