To start this out: I never wanted to be a sorority woman.
I grew up an only child, a little girl who just wanted to climb trees, play sports, and run with the boys. I never concerned myself with hair or makeup or the latest fashion trends. I was a shy, reserved tomboy.
That tomboy soon blossomed into someone who prided themselves on rebellion. How rebellious can a 13 year-old Catholic schoolgirl get? Not a lot, in retrospect, but I wanted to march to the beat of my own drum. I had been given a mold and I wasn’t about to fit into it. I didn’t need girlfriends, I didn’t need support. I had myself.
Whoever said high school was the best four years of their life…let me know who you are. I just want to chat. High school was terrible for me; I had friends and a car and a life, but I didn’t have happiness. I got in trouble more times than I can count. I fought with my mom all the time. I hated my body, I hated my brain, I hated everything. I graduated feeling like a shell of my former self - exhausted, depressed, lacking a lot of self-confidence. Hollow.
I came to college with no idea who I was. For some reason, I was drawn to the idea of recruitment. Maybe through talking to hundreds of women, something would click and I’d find myself again. I wanted security…I wanted a home.
I found myself losing patience in rounds prior to Kappa Delta. They weren’t bad, per say, but I wasn’t finding anything I didn’t already know. I felt fake, while my whole attempt at this experience was built on trying to be authentic. And then, everything changed.
Angels didn’t sing when I walked in the room. A bright spotlight wasn’t shining on me or the woman who preffed me. In all honesty, I still felt pretty awkward. But there was something comforting about being back there - women genuinely smiled at me, my active genuinely listened to me, the room felt genuinely full of sisterhood. I personally hadn’t found my authenticity, but this room had it in spades.
I never wanted to be a sorority woman, but here I stand. I was an only child, but now I can call this huge group of women family. I’m still an angsty, rebellious young adult who, at times, just wants to climb trees and run with the boys. And that’s perfectly okay.
I have found a group of girls who are dedicated to higher standards. Long gone are days of lying and trouble; instead I’m working to present myself in a better light because I represent something a lot more than myself. Kappa Delta has taught me to love both my body and my brain again. I’ve learned to love both my surroundings and myself again.
I'm still tired a lot. I still go through bouts of depression. I still have off days with my self-confidence. But instead of feeling hollow, I feel so, so full. These women are here through thick and thin, darkness and light. They lift me up and they calm me down. I’d say I don’t deserve them, but I do. I deserve this. We deserve this. You deserve this.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a good president. Sure, I knew the rules and had been on council before, but what is that worth? No matter how many times people told me that I’d be fine, I was still uncertain. I messed up (twice) during my first chapter meeting, and was sure I’d be doomed. When women in my chapter resigned from Kappa Delta, I was personally hurt. I wasn’t sure if I had the personality for this. If I was feeling like this a week in, what would the next year hold? I could’ve very easily gotten in a slump about the position, but lucky for me, I wasn’t alone even for a minute.
Consistently throughout the entire year during my term, I had sisters that would reach out to me and let me know that I was doing a good job or that they really valued me as a sister and as a leader. A lot of times these encouraging messages came on days that I wasn’t feeling the love or was unsure if I made the right decision. It’s like somehow my sisters just knew. As I near the end of my term and look back, I can’t believe I doubted myself for one minute. My sisters saw that I could do this job all along, and I feel embarrassed that it took me nearly 9 months to be confident in that as well.
Throughout the past 12 months I have learned so much about myself. I know that sounds really cliche, but I think that having the opportunity to lead a group of 140 women is not one that comes around often. I have a lot to be proud of. Myself and 139 others to be exact. 139 reasons to go to chapter and sisterhoods and socials every week. 139 reasons to not give up and to keep going even when it’s the last thing I want to do. 139 reasons to share our ritual during planned events and on a daily basis. 139 people believing in me, trusting in me, and confiding in me. 139 people that I would do anything for.
Looking back, I know that I wasn’t a perfect leader. Those don’t exist. But I can confidently say that I don’t want to leave this position. I love these women and Kappa Delta and having the opportunity to serve them. I can’t imagine my undergrad without this organization or without these people. I can’t imagine my collegiate career without this presidency. I am so so thankful that I took a chance on myself and that Kappa Delta allowed that to happen.
As I wrap up this term as president, my heart is full of so many thanks. The biggest ones going out to Zeta Kappa and the beautiful people within it. I wouldn’t want to have stood in front of any other group of women and knock a gavel and feel a little goofy each week. I wouldn’t want to have walked into a sisterhood and seen different faces than yours. I am so sincerely appreciative of every ounce of support and every word of encouragement you have given me. And although it will be so different not being chapter president, I know that these feelings will not be lost with my position. Thanks to this chapter, I have truly been changed for the better, and I cannot express how grateful I am for that.
Love in AOT,
Three years ago when I decided to go through recruitment, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As sorority women, we talk a lot about how people join people, but for me, I joined a feeling. When I walked into KD I had this gut feeling, a feeling that something was right.
The woman who I talked to during preference rounds didn’t have to say much for me to know that I was home. There was nothing that she said that made me think, “This is where I need to be.” There was just a feeling.
I had this feeling long before I went through recruitment. I remember talking to Kappa Deltas at the activity fair and loving the Confidence Coalition when they told me about it. I also reached out to a friend from church that had attended Ball State and I had asked her what chapter she was in. She told me she was a Kappa Delta. Something felt right.
Maybe you didn’t feel that during recruitment or maybe you felt it a couple weeks later, or a year later. But I think that this place gives you a feeling in your gut that you know is right. Yes, you join for the people and you find people that enhance who you are, but Kappa Delta as an organization makes you who you are.
During my time here in Kappa Delta, I finally found a group of friends who molded me into a better Emilie. I found my best friends. Now here I am senior year, my best friends have graduated, and I’m without those people. Going into senior year, I was sad. I knew things were going to be different. But not for one moment was I sad because I thought I lost my support group, or sad because I was going to be alone. I knew that I had 100 sisters that support me, push me, and give me that feeling in my gut constantly. I joined, I stay, and this is home, because every sister who came before me and who will come after me, each one brings a feeling to this group that is unexplainable.
This place doesn’t have to be a group of friends that stand next to you on your wedding day, this place doesn’t have to be where you find “your person.” This place should be where you walk into a room of 100 women and you don’t feel so alone anymore, because you are surrounded by people that have the same values and would do anything for you, even if all they know is your name. So, thank you for giving me strength, for seeing something in me that I sometimes forget about, and for allowing me to find my home with over 100 women. Kappa Delta is Kappa Delta because of all of us.
When I decided to go Greek, one of the main things I was looking for in an organization was a strong sisterhood. Choosing Kappa Delta, I knew I was getting just that, but at the time I had no idea how important that sisterhood would prove to be to me.
My great grandma has been a HUGE part of my life since I was born. She never stopped encouraging me and she was many of the reason that I wanted a sisterhood that pushed me to grow continuously. At more than 90 years old, she was always striving to improve herself. She made use of her spare time doing 1000 piece puzzles and playing games like Sudoku to keep her mind sharp. She was one of the strongest women I know, living entirely on her own, doing her own housework and spending all the time she could caring for her family; playing cards with us, baking for us, never missing a family gathering, and calling us daily to ask how we are. It was her mission to stay as connected and involved as possible. My world came crashing down this past semester when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to live.
Her condition was painful. And I spent hours at her side, watching her hurt in ways I can’t imagine. She was given intense pain medicines that only helped a little. The medicine transformed my strong, independent, loving great-grandmother into someone who was constantly terrified, someone who couldn’t leave her bed. She suddenly became completely dependent on her family and nurses. She thought her family, who she loved so deeply, couldn’t be trusted. It was hard for her to swallow, and hard for her family to watch. It was some of the most difficult weeks of my life, watching her fade away, and being helpless to stop it. I reached out to my sisters, feeling hopeless, exhausted and depressed. They responded in a way that only sisters can. They helped me help her. They wrote letters for her to read in her down time, wishing her well and telling her they were thinking of her. It meant so much to her, to have something to do while she was stuck in bed all day. But I think more importantly, it meant the world to her that she knew that there were people out there to help care for me when she wasn’t around to do it. People that wrote letters to a woman they had never met because a sister had asked them to.
My family cancelled our family vacation to Disney World to be with her when things started to look worse. As our chapters informal dance neared, I debated for days about whether or not I should go. I was terrified that something might happen to her while I was away, and that I wouldn’t be there for her if she needed it. My great grandma wouldn’t hear of my missing it. She demanded that I go and have fun. She never liked to be fussed over and wanted all of us to live our lives no matter what. My boyfriend and I got ready together at her house and showed her our outfits. It was a Halloween themed event, so we went as a Dalmatian and a firemen and she was so happy, to see us dressed up and going out together. That was the day she made me promise I wouldn’t ever let him go.
Before him, I was engaged to a man who was abusive. She knew how poorly this man treated me and when she met my best friend Michael for the first time, she cried to my relatives saying how we just had to be together so that I could be happy. When I finally ended my engagement and later announced that Michael and I were dating, she cried again. Hugging us both, and saying thank you to him for taking such good care of me. I should have listened to her sooner than I did. She was so smart and always knew what was best for me. I promised her I would take care of him and never let him go without hesitation, and I promised her I would go be with my sisters and have a good with them. I could see how happy it made her. I did have a great time at informal that night, despite my worry, thanks to my sisters. I know that is exactly what she would have wanted me to do.
My great grandma died a couple of weeks later, while I sat in her house having lunch. It broke me. I watched the mortuary staff wheel her out of her home for the last time, the home that I had spent every Christmas and birthday in for the last 20 years. Not 2 weeks before the holiday season began, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, the new year. All things that she would have celebrated with me, and I would have to spend them without her this year. I felt so lost, so heartbroken.
My sisters reached out immediately to offer their prayers, support, kind words and love. Members of my Greek Family came to the calling hours and we cried together until we were laughing. I couldn’t help but feel that my great grandma would have wanted me to laugh and be happy despite her loss. I know she’d have been so grateful to them for helping me to smile and reminisce, rather than feel the pain in my heart.
Michael proposed this Christmas, and I couldn’t have been happier. I am keeping my promise to the woman who meant so much to me. I only wish she could have been there to see it. But my sisters were. They gave me all the love and support that she would have. After my candle passing, when all of my sisters were hugging and congratulating me, I couldn’t help but think how happy our letters made my grandma, and how she knew I would be loved and supported by them for the rest of my life when she couldn’t be there. I knew how much comfort that brought her, and it brought me the same comfort that day, knowing that in my sisters, my grandma was there, cheering me on toward happiness.
As I plan a wedding that I know my sweet, strong, perfect great grandmother won’t be here for, I find comfort in knowing who will be there. They’re the women who were there for me when I left my abuser last year. The same women who made me laugh at the funeral of a woman who I have admired for as long as I can remember. The women who helped celebrate my engagement, my birthday and the holidays this year that passed by with an empty chair. The women who will help me keep another promise I made to my grandma, that I would graduate college no matter what it took. They’re the women whose actions have defined sisterhood, confidence, strength and compassion for me time and time again, and on my wedding day I can’t imagine wanting anyone else to stand at my side. I know my grandma would be so happy they were there. After all, Kappa Delta and my sisters embody so much of what she was. Having them there, it’s almost like having her there too.