It seems like FOREVER since I sat down here to pour out my thoughts about sorority life, recruitment and just stuff. Oh it’s not that I don’t think about it on a daily basis (usually at 2 am when I can’t sleep and the news reel of my life is playing in my head) but the time it takes to sit and write has just not been there.
Those of you who know me well have heard about the now “not so new” job. This “part-time” job has taken on a life of its own and in many ways and engulfed my life but has also made an incredible impact on me, personally. Let’s just say that my eyes and heart have been opened to so many incredible people, opportunities and possibilities. I am truly humbled to work with the families, staff and children that I spend time with on a daily basis. What a gift!
However, today I am staying home to pay our youngest’s LAST undergrad college tuition bill. Before you clap and jump up and down, take a deep breath…the undergrad part will be done this May but my over achieving, driven child is getting her Masters almost simultaneously and so while the undergrad part will be complete we still have next fall’s Masters bill to pay. Good news is she has been offered a TA position so it will be be a a discount…wooo hooo!!!! Even better we actually don’t bear the brunt of the tuition. My children have a “fairy god uncle” who committed to paying for all of his nieces and nephews college tuition (that would be 8 in total). What a gift. Our children have all been able to attend any college or university they wanted, debt free. At times I am not sure they realize the impact of this gift but I know as they grow older and have to save for their children’s college education they will understand just how special this is. Since he writes the check (or in this case pulls out the plastic) I am subject to his time schedule….which means today is a stay at home (at least for the morning) day for me.
Being home this morning, with twinkly Christmas lights all around, has given me time to pause and reflect on the past 4 years of her sorority experience. So WARNING!!!!!! If you are reading this post of factual information..come back tomorrow….today it is sappy memories. While they are my memories I hope if you are continuing to read that you will find value and wisdom in the words.
It’s hard to believe 5 years ago we began to embark on the journey of preparing for a competitive sorority recruitment. I admit I had no idea what I was in for.
When our dear daughter decided to go to Alabama and go through recruitment I smiled, nodded and thought that it would be similar to the experience her older sister had gone through at Missouri State. WRONG!!!!!!!!! That delusional security lasted about 1 month. I remember the phone call from her older sister as if it was yesterday, in fact I believe I was sitting in the exact same spot I am sitting in now (probably Christmas shopping on-line). As the words rushed out over the phone line, recruitment, competitive, like nothing you have seen before, thousands of girls, recommendations, more recommendations, alums, private teas, invites, preview weekend, resume….my head began to spin. You know it’s funny but as I write and relive that moment my stomach still gets squeezy and I can feel my heart begin to race.
That moment morphed into a couple of frantic phone calls to her legacy national offices. After lengthy phone calls ( and a couple of glasses of wine at 11 am (hey don’t judge…it’s 5 ‘clock somewhere)), I was ready to take the three-headed beast of sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama on. And I did.
I became and organized machine of lists, flow charts, color coded files. I think we only spoke “greek speak” at our house from December to the day we packed up a friends borrowed mini-van to move her down for recruitment. I became the super-hero of spotting sorority women. My x-ray vision could spot greek letters across crowded store aisles. My super-sonic hearing could detect conversations about alum meetings and sorority affiliations. My poor child was made to wear her new college’s t-shirts in hopes that women would stop and inquire if she was attending and subsequently offer to write a rec. Hey….don’t laugh…this tactic worked on multiple occasions!!! I carried resumes, head shots, ect with me where ever I went, just in case we met a potential rec writer.
There were traumatizing moments as well….the first being prying my “tomboy” out of her familiar Nike basketball shorts and t-shirt ad then cajoling her into her first “Lilly”. That event was traumatizing!!!! Well actually it was preceded by a couple of trips to the Lilly store where we would get as far as the door, where the smiling sales woman in her flamingo covered sundress (it was snowing outside) would meet us only to have my daughter back away and bolt for the car. Took a couple of tries and some bribery but we eventually had success.
There was the day two weeks before recruitment began, where I was sitting at my desk (okay..it’s not a desk but an old claw foot, antique table) feeling pretty smug at the fact I had accomplished 2 recs for each house and that I had done it on time…when I glanced to my right and noticed what appeared to be a sorority rec form. Shoveling papers I soon discovered that it was MY legacy introduction form!!!! That evoked mass hysteria, a race to Office Depot to fax and more wine :).
Recruitment was emotional but I learned that my daughter is strong, amazing young woman and in the end she found her home and an amazing group of women that she could call sisters. I also learned that there is nothing that a half dozen of cupcakes can’t cure :).
The past four years have flown by. The sorority environment nurtured her. She has grown into an incredible young woman. She has learned to be a time manager. Juggling classes, activities, clubs, social obligations, officer positions and a boy friend was something she has finessed over the past 4 years. Oh it always wasn’t smooth sailing…she learned quickly that you can’t pomp 10 black garbage bags, not sleep or eat, miss few a classes and have a perfect GPA. That wake-up call caused her to change her major, her life path and guess what??? It was all for the better!!! I know that the girls who reach out to me for help get tired of hearing that everything works out the way it should but seriously…it does.
My sweet daughter jumped into her sorority with both feet. She became Homecoming Chair and then went onto be EVP Property, over seeing the construction of a 10.4 million dollar new sorority house! She interviewed house moms, sat on the Exec Board, attended so many swaps, date parties , sisterhoods….too many to count (we have the Zaps to remind us) and met the most amazing young man (yes he too was greek) that has just recently become that person she will spend the rest of her life with (She’s engaged!!). Her candlelight brought tears to my eyes (thanks to her sisters who recorded it and texted it to me). I know it was a moment that she will remember forever and tell her daughters about. We are full tilt into wedding planning and of course her sisters will be there to share that special day with her as well.
There were lessons to be learned. She learned that life is precious and not to be taken granted of. After the tornado on April 27th, when Tuscaloosa was so broken, she learned how strong the bond of sisterhood is and even more what it means to be part of the greek community. You see it’s not just being the member of a particular sorority or fraternity but being “Greek” that binds us. Her sisters have been there to support her through the good times and the bad and no matter where life leads here she will have sisters there to continue this process.
So ladies…if you are contemplating going through recruitment I hope this little trip down memory lane will help seal the deal. We see so much media about the parties and the negative things about sorority life but we seldom see all the positives that happen. The fact that being a member of a sisterhood helps young women to become strong, empowered, driven, organized, amazing individuals. The networking amongst sisters and greek communities given them career opportunities. My daughter learned an amazing work ethic, responsibility to herself and others, fantastic organizational skills which have turned into an advanced degree, acceptance into a very elite program at Alabama, a position that will pay for her grad school and a job when graduates. And I believe in my heart that being a part of a sorority played a HUGE part in these successes and opportunities.
So as I sit and nurse a third cup of coffee and reminisce…..I hope that you are finding recs, chatting with alums and getting organized for recruitment. It is an experience of a lifetime…one you will look back on and smile ..just as we are doing now.
Oh wait a minute….I’ve got a wedding to plan!!!! Hmm…need to find the sharpies, color coded files….I need lists….and more lists…and may be a glass of wine….hey..it’s five o’clock somewhere :).