When I was about eight I saw an episode of What Would You Do? on Nickelodeon. It was a challenge show that always had audience participation. I remember that I saw a large group of girls wearing letters of a different language on matching t- shirts and they looked so happy. I knew I wanted to know what that group was. I thought maybe it was like adult Girl Scouts or something like that. When Marc Summers finally went to this group of girls the one he interviewed said, “these are my sorority sisters”. I don’t remember anything else about that show; not a single episode, and I was an avid watcher! The idea of a bond of sisterhood between women who aren’t related sticks with me to this day.
In college I had to do ethnography for my advanced writing requirement. I had to pick a culture and learn about their rituals, language and characteristics. This project came at the same time that I accepted my bid to join Alpha Phi. I was very open with the sisters and let them know that my interest and desire to be in A-Phi was not motivated by my ethnography. I told my friends in Center for Women’s Concerns and LGBA that I was only doing it for the ethnography.
Why was I so afraid to tell people that I wanted to be in a sorority? What story do Greek letters tell without saying a word? I am a natural “joiner” and lifetime Girl Scout. I love to be active and thrive in an environment that combines friendship, unity and fun. I am very philanthropic and love to get my friends involved in what I’m involved in. I scream “sorority girl”.
So what made me so scared to tell my parents I wanted to join? Why was I uncomfortable when I told my best friend that after I pledged I would be an Alpha Phi? Why do I continue to feel that I need to explain myself when someone learns that I am a member of a Greek organization? It is because not everyone who wears their letters wears them with the respect that I do. I did not learn to respect Alpha Phi when I felt nervous about not knowing enough. I respect Alpha Phi because I now understand that I am part of a life - long adventure.
The same letters that sparked my interest so many years ago still spark a bit of anxiety in me and it is because of what women and men do in “honor” of those letters. When I think of my Alpha Phi founders and the courage they must have had to go to university in the 1870’s I wear my badge with honor. When I think of the thousands of women who have been helped by The Alpha Phi Foundation I proudly wear my sorority jacket. When I learn of a community organization that has experienced success because Alpha Phi’s volunteered their time to help I am eager to display my AF letters on my car, water bottle or favorite pen.I want every little girl to see Greek letters and want to join a sorority. I want every young woman to go to university and fall in love with her organization so much that she wants every female she meets to become one of her sisters. I want every adult woman I know and meet to know what she can expect of me because I am an Alpha Phi. She can expect a friend, philanthropist, advocate and person of genuine moral character. She can expect to find a woman who has made mistakes and learned from them; a woman who hasn’t always embraced the true meaning of the letters Alpha and Phi. She can expect to find a woman who lives each day by the values that her sorority founders set out for her over a century ago. She can find a woman who believes that a woman deserves every opportunity her male counterpart may receive. She can find a woman who believes in her fraternity; a woman who believes in Alpha Phi.