Monday, January 30, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #30

A Year of Gratitude #30: Alpha Gamma Delta
When I joined a sorority at MSU it was the worst thing I could have done. The timing was terrible, the situation was terrible, and I was just not in the right mindset to be successful in college and balance being in a sorority. As we already discussed in a previous post, I was not initiated into Phi Mu... because I didn't have the grades. That single thing (which was terrible... don't get me wrong) was awesome because it allowed me the opportunity to join another sorority when the timing WAS right.
My ex-husband was less than supportive when I told him that I wanted to join a sorority at EMU. He made numerous comments about me buying my friends. For some reason it was acceptable that I was in Phi Sigma Pi and had "bought my friends" through that organization, but a sorority was so much worse to him.

My friend Kate had joined PSP and then transferred to CMU (Central Michigan University) and helped start the PSP chapter there. She also joined the Alpha Gamma Delta chapter at CMU. When she transferred back to EMU (where I met her), she told me about AGD and that she wanted to get back involved as an alumnae (if you leave a chapter and go alumnae, you're considered alumnae anywhere else that you go).

Another girl in PSP (Sharon) had just joined Sigma Kappa and when she told others in PSP, she got a lot of negative comments. I was somewhat worried that my friends in PSP would not be supportive of my decision. For the most part, everyone was nice about it, but there were a few PSP members that made rude comments and felt that I "betrayed" them by joining a social Greek organization.

Anyway, Kate and I went to a COR (Continuous Open Recruitment) event (this means that it wasn't a formal recruiting time). I was nervous that the girls wouldn't like me and that they'd judge me because I was engaged and older (I joined in 1998 and was 22).
Right off the bat I loved everyone that I met. I just felt "at home" with the girls in the chapter. The President of the AGD chapter (Zeta Alpha) was Brenda and her sister Denise was actually my grand-big in PSP. I LOVED Brenda and totally clicked with her. She had two really close friends, Eva and Dawn and I thought the three of them were so awesome. They were older than me and were a lot of fun. 

After I went to the COR event, I was asked to come to another event and then I was told the chapter would be voting on whether or not to give me a bid (an official invitation to join). I had to meet a certain number of girls before they could vote to give me a bid or not. I remember being so nervous that they weren't going to like me enough to give me a bid... I went to the bar that night with friends and Brenda, Eva, and Dawn were there. Brenda told me that "unofficially" and on the way DL, I would be called the next day and offered a bid. I was so excited!!
My semester as a new member (aka Pledge) was fun. Kate helped me learn all the songs, and she was there for the meetings and other fun events. I was assigned a big sister (she sucked) and they figured that since she was getting married, she and I would be a great match. Unfortunately, my big was more wrapped up in her own wedding that she didn't take the time to get to know me... and the retreat weekend that I was initiated, when I was to be given my very special book from my big... I got an empty 1/2 ass put together one.

To say my new member period was disappointing would be an understatement. My ex HATED my sorority sisters and was rude whenever he was around any of them. His twin brother loved it... it was like opening up a whole new world of available hot chicks for him to try to hook up with. LOL

I was initiated in the spring and then we had the summer and when we came back to school in the fall, we had structured recruitment. This is when girls sign up and are put into groups. Each group is taken to all the sororities on campus and then it's a two-sided decision. Each chapter votes on the girls that came through and decides whether or not to invite them back to the next round, and then the girls decide which sororities they want to see again. Only the ones that match are kept for the girls.

So basically, the first round of recruitment EVERYONE sees everyone. The second round, most sororities weed out anyone without the GPA minimum (each sorority has their own requirements). You always have fewer girls in the second round because you cut some, and some cut you.
Fun during one of the rounds of structured recruitment

Then the third round is more serious and you discuss how much it'll be to join, you go over scholastic expectations and this is the round that you REALLY try and sell your sorority as the best on campus. You tell the girls about the Greek Week awards, the number of girls with 4.0s and stuff like that. The girls that come to this round obviously like what they've seen so far, so you really want them to have a good time and get as much out of their time as possible.

The last event is called preference. Up until this point, you'd talk to as many different girls during a "round" as possible. You'd take someone that you were talking to and introduce them to other girls ("pass them off"). The more that talked to someone, the better for voting. If only one person talked to someone it's hard to extend an offer to the next round... and each sorority can only take so many girls (ceiling).

So Preference is a bit different. Hopefully, you met someone in round one that you liked... she came back for rounds two and three and you talked to her still. You then "pref" her and it's a one-on-one conversation. It's VERY intimate and it's when you basically share why you love your sorority so much and why you would want her to join and be a sister. Usually, girls have their two chapters that they like and they go to two preference parties... yours and the other. So you have a 50/50 chance that she'll pick yours.
After you've had your Preference parties (there are two... so that everyone has a chance to see their other choice) then the whole chapter votes on which girls to give a bid to. The girls also meet with their Rho Chis (Anonymous members from all the sororities that act as guides and leaders for recruitment groups... they are De-affiliated and cannot tell their group which sorority they belong to-- because they're not allowed to influence which sorority the girls join.) and they pick their sorority.

Bid Day is when you go and each sorority is ready to find out how many girls they "got" and which girls picked them. It's so exciting and everyone is super pumped up. Each girl that went through structured recruitment goes to the microphone, says her name, and then announces which sorority she joined. 

Now... sometimes she'll go to two preference parties and receive two bids. Then she has to pick which of the two she wants to join. Sometimes, she'll go to two preference parties and neither ask her to join... she can be "picked up" by another sorority after bid day through COR. Sometimes, she doesn't get invited to preference for either sorority that she likes and she drops out, OR... one invites her that she might not have initially liked, but because the two that she liked didn't pick her, she can choose to attend.

Anyway... it's very exciting and when each girl goes to the microphone and says which sorority she is a proud new member of... the entire sorority goes ape shit and screams, hoots, hollars, and runs up and gets her. Many give balloons, t-shirts, and sing sings and chants. If you've never been to a bid day... you've missed out!!
Ready to head to Big Bob's Lake House to find out who we got

So... back to my story... when I joined AGD it was COR and NOT formal structured recruitment. I had NO IDEA what to expect with formal. It was crazy and overwhelming... but the girls that joined that fall were INCREDIBLE. These girls are some of my closest friends to this day!
At Big Bob's 

Some of the things that I loved about being in a sorority was that I didn't have sisters when I grew up. AGD provided me with constant female companionship and I loved feeling like I was part of a group that I believed in. I loved the social events, meeting new friends, and the experiences gained through AGD are priceless.
Here are some pictures of my favorite AGD memories... some are from when I was President of the Junior Circle (once you graduate you can join a JC and do more events... JC is not just for one chapter though... and through it I met girls from other Michigan chapters, and when we moved to NC, I met some great AGDs in the Raleigh area!).
Bowl-A-Thon to raise $$ for our philanthropy (Juvenile Diabetes)

My family tree-- Mindy (my little) and Lauren (Mindy's little) and Me

Homecoming :-) 
Me, Shannon, Shannon, Krissy, and Jess

Another Homecoming
Melissa, Me and Kate

After a meeting

Camping (Me and Aimee)

Me, Maylone, Mindy, Aimee, Amanda, and Amanda

My roommates
Me, Beckie, Amy (Maylone)
Here are pictures from some Junior Circle events:
Lucky Strike and Hooters event
Shauna, Gen, me and Michelle

Ice Skating in Campus Martius (Downtown Detroit) and Hard Rock Cafe 
Me and Angie (from Kettering University)

Cookie Making/Decorating
Gen, Me and Shauna

Hard Rock Cafe and Detroit Tigers Game
Shauna, Shannon, Aimee, and Me

IRD is International Reunion Day and it's when each state has a luncheon (with speakers) and all the actives and alumnae from the state are invited to come together to celebrate being Alpha Gams. You'd think there'd be a TON of women each year, but there aren't. It's usually in April, and it's the same time as Greek Week... and then some chapters let members out of going due to studying for finals. As an active, I didn't LOVE it... but as an alumnae, it was awesome.

Anyway... my favorite IRD was when my friend Sara and I were fortunate to sit next to Jane Graf. Jane was a legend in AGD... she had joined WAAAAAAY back in the day and had been VERY involved her entire life. As a reward for service to AGD, you get parts of a circle that you wear with your badge. It takes years to get one little part (and arc) and then more years for another and then another and eventually after like 50 years of service (something crazy like that), you can get the full circle and it's GORGEOUS. It's diamonds... and incredible. 

Jane was one of the few in all of AGD, still alive, and wearing the circle. She sat at the table that I was at, and literally sat next to me!!
(Jane) Me and Sara in a picture with Jane lol-- trying to be slick

The Zeta Alpha alumnae at the IRD
Me, Sara, Denise, Christy, and Holly

I finally got the nerve to ask her for a picture

The Western Wayne Alumnae Chapter 

Jane died a few months after that picture was taken and I was so sad to hear it. She was so inspirational and just amazing to think of what she saw in her lifetime. Not only did she see things that I could only imagine, but she was a female, in college, and eventually a college graduate during a time that it was unheard of for women to do anything of the like. She was a firecracker and so full of spunk... :)

AGD is actually a fraternity... because it's one of the oldest women's groups and was formed as a fraternity because sororities had not been created yet. It's also an international organization with chapters in the US and Canada. 

There were 11 founders, our mascot is the squirrel (named Skiouros), our colors are red, buff and green. Our jewel is the pearl, and we were founded May 30, 1904 at Syracuse University. Our flowers are red and buff roses with green asparagus plumosa fern and our vision is "Live with Purpose."

When my ex and I got divorced, it was my sorority sisters that got me back up and moving. One sent me a care package that totally made my day. One took me shopping... others were there to provide a shoulder to cry on, and provided laughs to cheer me up. My sisters got me through the darkest period of my life and I am forever grateful for them.

If I did "buy" my friends, they were worth every penny I paid and then some. They were the investment of a lifetime and one that has returned so much more than I ever spent. 

My closest and greatest friends to this day, are all my Alpha Gam sisters and I am so thankful I joined when I was ready. I think sororities get a bad rap and I think it depends on who you're talking to about them. I tell everyone I know how great my experience was, and that to this day, I am still involved through volunteering. It's something that I joined in college and is still apart of my life. Not too many people are fortunate to be able to say this.

I am so thankful that God led me to the path that allowed me to become an Alpha Gam and meet the people that I call my sisters.


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