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Throughout my experience as an active member of Sigma Kappa, I heard the phrase “It’s not just four years, but for life,” countless times. It seems to be a common tagline connected to the sorority experience, no matter which organization you join. It challenges Panhellenic women to see our organizations as a continual investment and support system, something that will grow with us far beyond our collegiate years.
However, as a community, I believe we vastly underestimate the value of the alumna experience. Instead, for many women, graduation comes with closing the door on our sisterhood. The letters we once wore proudly are given away or placed in the bottom drawer. Old bedrooms and memories are passed down to those whom we recruited to take our place. We are left with the feeling that we don’t belong any more and feel the weight of finding a new city, new friends and a new adventure.
If you are an alumna that has been disconnected from your organization for any length of time, I hope you will consider finding a way to reinvest. Here are five reasons why I think you should:
1. You will reconnect with the values that shaped you.
Sororities are unlike any other organization you will ever find, because they exist to bring out the best in you. Even if you are fulfilled with your career, your family and your interests, it will bring you joy to be around other women who share your values. You will be humbled and thankful in realizing how much you have grown since your college years.
2. You are needed.
It was not until I became a leadership consultant that I fully understood how vital alumnae are to the success of collegiate chapters. Thousands of alumnae volunteer countless of hours each year to coach, train and mentor collegiate women. Beyond that, even more women volunteer time to help establish new chapters, lobby for our organizations, raise funds and create purposeful educational content. Local advisory board members walk step by step with officers, celebrating their successes and supporting them through difficult decisions. Many chapters would not thrive without the daily support of alumnae.
3. Your stories are worth sharing.
During your time as an active member, you built traditions and memories that helped your chapter grow. You learned from your mistakes, and worked to ensure the experience was significant for you and the women that would come after you. As a sorority woman, I am fascinated by our organizations’ long standing histories. I think it is incredible that I am able to continue something that was founded in an era I’ll never experience first hand. My membership connects me to the past as well as to the future. College women today care about your memories and the decisions that led their chapter to where it is today. Simply by showing up and sharing your experience, you help to fill in gaps in their knowledge and understanding.
4. Your network will grow.
If your adult life has led you to a new city far away from your college town, it can often be difficult to acclimate to your surroundings. By seeking out an alumnae chapter in your area, you have an instant opportunity to connect with women who will welcome and accept you, simply because you are their sister. I’ve heard countless stories from alumnae who attribute their success in finding a job or a relationship to a connection through one of their sorority sisters. In life, we all need others who will look out for our best interests. If all that stands between you and these opportunities is an email, what are you waiting for?
5. Your organization is worth it.
I often ask women I meet on the road what they have gained by their membership in Sigma Kappa. Many common answers include: finding a new group of friends, a support system, confidence in their abilities, a platform to express their opinions, leadership development, or even a home away from home. For many women, their sorority is the only reason they even choose to remain at their university and pursue their degree. For me, these reasons will always be enough. If volunteering a few hours of my time means women will continue to have these opportunities, it is worth it. The lessons sorority women learn during their time as an active member will set the standard for who they will be in the future. When educated, empowered women enter the workforce, organizations flourish.
Want to invest but not sure where to start? Here are a few ways:
- Join an advisory or corporation board.
- Contact and invest in your nearest alumnae chapter.
- Offer to present an educational program to a local chapter.
- Attend an alumnae attend sponsored by the chapter.
- Donate funds, goods or services to a chapter’s philanthropy.
- Apply for a position at your national headquarters.
- Pass on internship and career opportunities from your employers.
- Send an encouraging note or gift to the women during their recruitment season.
- Pay your alumnae dues.
- Attend your national convention.
It is my hope that you will discover a new dimension of your sorority experience, one that will be as fulfilling and fruitful as the one before.