Every year, around Greek Preview and Formal Fall Recruitment, conversations about rush begin and the hashtag #whyiwentgreek starts popping up on Instagram. I have always felt like this was a great way to connect with girls interested in going through recruitment, but at the same time there is a topic that I feel would be a much better representation of the importance of sorority in my life. For me, the reasons why I stayed greek are vastly different, and so much more impactful.
I briefly touched on some of my "expectations" of a sorority in a previous post, and honestly these superficial requirements of a chapter were not too far off from my original intentions of rushing. When I thought of sororities, I thought of some of my favorite college focused chick flicks, excuses to dress up all the time, and pretty houses with lots of things to do. I thought of taking cute pictures and doings crafts with my future big. And while joining my chapter gave me the copious amounts of tshirts and social events that I desired, it gave me so much more. Deep down I think that the things I found in Sigma Kappa are really what I was looking for to begin with, but regardless, they are definitely the reason that I stayed.
When I lived in the dorms my freshman year with my best friend Brittany and our roommate Lucy, I definitely wasn't ever unhappy. We stayed up late goofing around and buying everything the vending machines had to offer, and I loved spending time with our friends from high school that also came to UW. But as our dorm renewal came up I realized that I felt like I was missing something. I hadn't branched outside of my preexisting circle of friends, joined any clubs, or done much to get involved with my campus community. I had wanted to rush freshman year, but talked myself out of it. Telling myself that this was possibly my only chance to have something I thought I wanted, I ended up registering for FFR.
Finding my home in Sigma Kappa changed everything. I found myself getting busier and busier, both in my chapter and on campus, and was enjoying every minute of it. Sigma Kappa brought out a side of me that I didn't expect, and I quickly became involved in leadership as the merchandise chair and assistant head of recruitment. Later I became the head of recruitment, and discovered my ability to lead workshops and plan events. I never liked to engage in this type of public speaking before, so I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it so much. Holding these leadership roles within the chapter definitely allowed me to grow as a person, and I even saw an impact in my confidence speaking in classes.
With the commitment to these leadership roles, social events, and my education, Sigma Kappa also helped me grow in my ability to manage my time. It didn't take long for me to discover the importance of a planner, or taking a couple hours to work on homework with friends. I learned that with more to do, I needed to quit procrastinating (as much) in order to buckle down and focus on what was important to me. This allowed me to continue getting involved as often as possible while still finding time to spend on myself, or hang out with friends.
The friends that I have made in Sigma Kappa are irreplaceable, and I cherish every memory I have made with them. Whether we are watching the Bachelor in our pajamas after chapter on a Monday night, or getting dressed up for a Grab-A-Date, I am constantly finding myself smiling and laughing with women that I expect to have in my life for a long time. Some people say that joining a sorority is like buying your friends, but the relationships I have built with women in my chapter have never felt forced. In fact, it surprised me how quickly genuine friendships were formed. Sarah, who is one of my closest friends from SK, and I met during the recruitment process and have been inseparable since bid day. It's pretty amazing how chapters are able to bring similar personalities together in order to introduce you to people who will become some of your best friends. Not to mention the family that joining a sorority provides. Having my greek fam has been such an important part of my college experience, and being a role model to my little and grand littles has made me feel confident as a role model.
Another important part of my Sigma Kappa experience is philanthropy. Giving back to the community is something I feel strongly about, although it was never hard for me to find an excuse as to why it wasn't the right time, or why I couldn't make a difference. Joining a sorority has changed that, and I am constantly presented with opportunities to volunteer or give back. With an all greek philanthropy, fraternity events, and our own personal organization there is never a shortage of programs available to help you strive for change. I am lucky to have a chapter that supports a cause that I care strong about, since Sigma Kappa nationally raises money for the Alzheimer's Association. My great grandmother, who has always been an important role model in my life, has dementia, and to be in a chapter that understands what I am going through has made all the difference. Knowing that we are raising money and donating time in ways that helps women like my grandmother allows me to find comfort, and feel hopeful that future generations will not face the same uncertainty. I was even able to meet the national president of the Alzheimer's Association, and talk to him about how grateful I was for the work they were doing to fund research and find a cure. Women in my chapter donate time and money to advance the cause by visiting senior care facilities, managing fundraisers, and spreading awareness on campus and in the community. Having others who care in this way provides the support and encouragement that I need to not feel alone.
These women inspire me everyday, through their intelligence and commitment to education, their love of giving back to the community, and their passion and love for the world around them. I cannot imagine how different my life would have been had I not rushed my sophomore year, or if I had not chosen Sigma Kappa during the recruitment process. I have never regretted my decision to join my sorority, and I know that it has made my college experience better than I could have ever expected. My hope is that other women find their home the way that I did, whether that be in Sigma Kappa or in another chapter that is perfect for them. I hope that everyone finds their reason to go greek, but more importantly, I hope that they find their reason to stay.