“It is a blessing to get the chance to do what you love and to hear stories from those that are the heart and soul of why you do it.” ~Me
My first visit on the road brought me to the University of Missouri Kansas City (also known as UMKC). This is home to the ladies of the Theta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha and would be mine for 10 days (from Aug. 19-28). I will never forget being warmly welcomed by the sweet and enthusiastic chapter president Amanda, who wore a brightly colored t-shirt so that it would make it easier for me to spot her at the airport =)
Our first stop was “Winstead’s”, an amazing old fashioned diner that has the best chocolate shakes, hands down! Through our lunch together, Amanda described to me her life changing journey of being a founding sister, as the chapter is still in its young years and builiding up, which I have found to be one of the most exciting times! I am always honored to meet founding sisters and love hearing stories from them because without their passion, dedication and selfless nature chapters everywhere would not be able to exist. To clarify for those of you who may not be Greek, a founding sister is a woman who helps to start a chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha at a university or college. She helps with what we refer to as the colonization process, which is the stage before the chapter is officially chartered (meaning becomes a official chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha). During this time the group of founding sisters is responsible for laying the foundation of the chapter operations from scholarship to philanthropy to recruitment and everything else in between! This group along with the guidance and support of a Leadership Consultant creates the chapter from the ground up. It always blows my mind to think of how a chapter starts with a vision and how a group of young women make it a reality! Throughout my time visiting, I had the opportunity to meet and hear stories from the majority of the founding sisters and let me tell you, there is no better inspiration than hearing from young women who wanted to help start a chapter of ASA to make a difference in the lives of young women on their campus! A comment that was stated by one of the founding members that touched my heart deeply was, “There are few moments in this life that you get the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself, for me helping start ASA will always be one of those moments.” It resonated deeply with me because I think that every single founding sister in ASA can relate to it.
Throughout the rest of my visit I was able to help the chapter with one of my favorite chapter operations pieces-RECRUITMENT! I had the opportunity to help prepare for the process, was able to support during the process and assisted with reflection following recruitment. Every chapter and university does recruitment differently so for me to be able to experience a UMKC recruitment and to see what their vision of recruitment looked like was awesome! During each day and stage of assisting with the process it blew me away to see the strong work ethic and dedication that the chapter held. Each sister genuinely wanted to make recruitment an impactful experience for every potential new member walking through the door. This was reiterated to me each night, when the four sisters I was staying with who lived in a house on campus would share their stories of why they joined the chapter and their hope that recruitment would be a time to have potential new members relate to those reasons.
“ASA made me feel alive again.”
During my visit, each sister left a mark on my heart, but as I look back on that time two stories stand out to me. The first was told to me the night before the last day of recruitment, known as Preference Ceremony. This sister had been sitting on the couch at the house I was staying at and looked intensely focused on the notepad in front of her. This was signaled by me startling her a bit when I had come downstairs. I apologized and that was the start of our two hour conversation. It turned out she had been writing her preference ceremony speech and could not seem to find the right words to share about her testimony in ASA. However, as she recounted her journey of growing up with a mother who became an alcoholic and the ways it has impacted her family, I wished that every single potential new member could have been there. As this sister to me was an example of strength, selflessness and positivity in the midst of adversity. The ways that she rose above each obstacle, took care of others in her life, especially her younger sister and always carried hope for her mom to be sober again one day had me in awe. She spoke of how ASA made her feel alive again as it gave her confidence, happiness and most of all sisters who were always there for her. It gave her the chance to see what she was made of and the opportunity to strive towards values and ideals that she held close to her heart. At the end of her story that had us both in tears, I offered her the advice to write her testimony how she just told it to me. Hearing it the next day at Preference Ceremony, I remember instantly feeling as if someone had pushed a rewind button thinking of the previous night when she had shared it with me and looking around the room I saw the tears from potential new members and sisters that had filled our eyes the night before.
The second story, I had the opportunity to hear different pieces of throughout the week, as I worked closely with this sister each day. She always had a smile on her face and wore her heart on her sleeve. However, as I met with her one morning she revealed to me that her mother had passed away from cancer a few years before. Instantly, I remember my heart sinking at the thought of her painful loss, but even as she recounted certain memories she still had a smile on her face. She spoke about the amazing person her mom was, how she wanted to celebrate her life and how she needed to be strong for her younger sister who was only 16. She blew me away with how she chose to handle such an awful situation and how she was such a ray of sunshine, despite all she had been faced with. When I asked her how she made it through everything, I will always remember her two word response, “Finding ASA.” She recalled how sisters were there with shoulders to lean on, a smile to brighten her day and helping hands with anything she needed. At the end of the week during her Preference Ceremony testimony she discussed how ASA was the family she could turn to and her saving grace that kept her going. It was moving throughout the week to hear from sisters the ways that they looked up to her and how she kept them going, which was signified by all their expressions on Preference night when she told her story.
I have numerous memories and stories from my time visiting the sisters of the Theta Omicron chapter, but below are some highlights:
1. Homemade tacos with Jasmine, Casi, Amber and Autumn.
2. Ernie (the dog that was at the house I stayed at) who greeted me each day I got back from campus.
3. Winstead’s with the chapter president Amanda.
4. Recruitment practices =)
5. Late night talks with sisters who visited the house I was staying at =)
6. Working with the dedicated advisors =)
7. Finding out that the chapter would be welcoming 23 new members! AHHHH!!!
8. Singing “Call Me Maybe” on the car ride to Walgreens!
9. An emotional Preference Ceremony.
10. Exploring the campus of UMKC…while getting lost a few times.lol.
Each sister I came across and the chapter as a whole taught me so many valubale lessons and impacted my life in ways that are indescribable.
It is often said that the start of your journey brings about the start of your inspiration and that is exactly what happened.
For more information on the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) be sure to check out: http://www.umkc.edu/
To support the lovely ladies of the Theta Omicron Chapter of ASA be sure to like their page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150943366300742.435678.674510741&type=3#!/alphasigumkc?fref=ts
May today bring you an adventure of your own,