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Leading a College Panhellenic

By Sarah Williams, Samford University’s Panhellenic President

Becoming actively involved in the Panhellenic community is single-handedly the best decision I have made during my college career. As a backstory, I served as the Vice President of Public Relations for Panhellenic before stepping into the role as President for this year. During that first term of serving on the Panhellenic Executive Council, I quickly learned that Panhellenic is full of diverse women coming together for a bigger purpose. I grew in leadership, self-confidence, joy, and overall purpose in my life. I knew I had to continue serving with Panhellenic and give back to the community that had given me so much. Serving as Panhellenic President, through a global pandemic, has been the most humbling and challenging experience in my life. This community has brought me lifelong friendships
and more life lessons than I could ever count.

At Samford University, our Panhellenic community is filled with 6 chapters and over 1300 members. We are the largest organization on Samford’s campus, and we represent roughly 40% of the student body. Serving a community this large can easily become intimidating and daunting. However, during my time with Panhellenic, I learned there is strong power in these numbers. There are 1300 members who represent 1300 women’s stories in the making as they navigate their college experience. There are 6 chapters that are special, unique, mission minded, and strong to their values. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the absolute privilege of witnessing these chapters coming together and sharing ideas to keep their chapters thriving in a virtual platform. Leading Panhellenic through a global pandemic was definitely not what I had pictured when I accepted this position. However a year later, I can confidently say that I would not have wanted it any other way. I truly saw the absolute best in this community over the past year, and I am a better person because of it.

I have spent half of my college career alongside the Panhellenic Executive Board. While this was the best decision I could have made, it still came with bittersweet moments. Serving on Panhellenic caused me to take a sideline position with my own personal chapter, Phi Mu, in many circumstances. Standing outside of the Phi Mu house while recruitment parties started and watching one of my best friends (and Recruitment Director at the time) welcoming potential new members into the house was bittersweet. That moment (and many others) also caused me to swell with pride for my chapter. I have had the honor watching my chapter’s executive boards lead with unwavering devotion and love for Phi Mu. It has been my goal that I have represented Phi Mu well in the Panhellenic community and that I have made them proud. I am eternally grateful for Phi Mu being a consistent home and safe place for me over these past 4 years along with the entire Panhellenic community.

My time with Panhellenic has been filled with more love, friendship, leadership opportunities, and unforgettable memories than I can ever truly comprehend. Above all else, Panhellenic has taught me the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone, because you are capable of more than you think. I can never thank this community enough for everything it has taught me over the past 4 years, and I pray that I served these women well. I will forever say that the Panhellenic community at Samford is unlike any other, and I am so grateful for an up close experience to all that it has to offer.

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Join the Birmingham Alumnae Panhellenic!

Whether you’re new to the area, a recent graduate, or just wanting to get involved, we want to meet you! There are many intangible benefits to membership; here are just a few we wanted to mention:

Inclusion is the most enriching benefit. You will meet members from all 26 National Panhellenic Conference women sororities and fraternities of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures. While we are in college, most of us focus on bettering our own chapter. Joining our Alumnae Panhellenic will not only teach you about the other organizations but it will also teach you about the women in those organizations. 

Community service is a top priority as we are constantly exploring how we can better the Birmingham community through hands-on volunteer hours and donations. We have a unique opportunity in the Birmingham area to help a wide variety of non-profit organizations. 

Our fundraising efforts from all sources directly impacts active sorority collegiate women through scholarships we provide annually. The Birmingham Alumnae Panhellenic is a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning all donations are tax deductible, including all donations made to assist in funding our scholarships.

Our Sorority 101 annual event promotes the Greek life experience as a whole while inviting colleges and universities to participate in sharing the intrinsic value of “Going Greek” while in school and staying active post graduation. Each year we have a panel of speakers discuss subjects from what to expect during recruitment to recommendations. It is the most exciting event we host; and it is free of charge!

Networking! You will meet amazing women and make connections professionally and personally. We have a wide scope of members from new graduates to past national officers from their respective sororities or fraternities to business owner.

Stay in the know. Being a member will help you stay up-to-date on National Panhellenic Conference changes and new policies as Greek life is ever-evolving. Recruitment is much different than it used to be 20 years ago. 

Keep the Greek system strong while in turn keeping your own sorority or fraternity strong. The more alumnae members from all chapters that remain active the brighter the future of Greek Life will be.

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Sorority Recruitment: You Are Enough

You are enough, you always were enough, and you always will be enough

By Rachel Burchfield

Sorority recruitment is exciting. It is miserable. It is hot. It is invigorating. It is empowering. It is aching feet. It is oversharing. It is answering the same question 25 different ways. It is my cheeks hurt too much from smiling. It is wonderful. It is awful. It is an emotional roller coaster. It is over-perfumed. It is a fashion show. It is meaningful. It is a beginning. It is an ending. It is complex. It is confusing. It is a lot.

But let me tell you one thing sorority recruitment most certainly is not: A definer of your worth.

Sweet girl, listen. And listen closely. Some of you are going to have the sorority recruitment you’ve dreamed about since you were five. Some of you are not. (Heck, some of you just decided 10 minutes ago to participate. You weren’t thinking about this even a month ago.) Regardless. Regardless! You are enough. Just as you are.

Your sorority letters – or, in some cases, lack thereof – do not define you. Only you can define you. Your sorority letters do not provide your worth, your inherent value, your meaning, your purpose. Sorority life is everything you think it is and more, but if you’re coming to sorority recruitment to get validated, you’ve come to the wrong place. You must find that self-worth within yourself. No letters – even if they are “the best” letters – will ever be able to give you true inner confidence, value, and worth. You alone are the keeper of those keys.

You are already a complete person right now, unaffiliated with any sorority. You don’t need a sorority to complete you. You are complete. You are beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, hilarious, irreverent, talented, athletic (well, unless you’re me – then you’re definitely not that), witty, and everything good in this world today, and the opening of an envelope on Bid Day will not raise or lower your stock in life. Your value does not increase or decrease based on a Bid Day jersey.

So many times we as women think “oh, well if only I can a.) date the right man, b.) pledge the right sorority, c.) fit into the right dress size, d.) get the right job, then I will be enough.” NOPE. You already are enough right this very moment, just as you are. You do not need all of the above add-ons. They are the sprinkles on top of an already delicious, fabulous, incredible cake.

As you enter sorority recruitment, be yourself. Your imperfect, raw, real, irreverent, true self. Let the right women fall in love with the real you. Just like when you go on dates, you should always be yourself (there are so many parallels between sorority recruitment and dating that I could write a book on it) – what’s the point if the man you’re dating falls in love with someone that isn’t really you? How far is that relationship really going to go? Same with sorority recruitment. If you’re not who you really are, how will you find your tribe? Show them the unashamed you that so many people already love and adore.

You are enough. You are worthy. And sorority life – let me tell you, it’s wonderful. I wouldn’t change one thing about my decision to join my chapter and become a Panhellenic woman. But that said, if all I had to hang my worthiness on were my letters, I’d be in a mess of trouble. I – and you – have so much more than Greek letters to define us.

I hope you have the most magical sorority recruitment. I wish you happiness and peace about your decisions and calm and unfettered joy and everything good. But the truth is, I don’t know one person who has ever had a sorority recruitment turn out 100 percent the way they thought it would. Not one.

But the good news is – it always turns out how it is supposed to, and it always turns out better than you thought it could be.

Walk in there a confident, complete woman, be yourself, wear your letters with pride, but realize that with or without letters, you’re everything and more, and raise your head and walk like the queen that you most certainly are into each sorority recruitment event and into each and every room you enter from now until the end of time.

You are enough, you always were enough, and you always will be enough.

Enjoy this moment. (Even the aching feet.) And in that moment of sorority recruitment when you feel like quitting – let’s be honest, we all have that moment – remember what I said, adjust your invisible crown, and continue to shine.

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Reasons to Attend Sorority 101!

I wish I could have attended Sorority 101 before I went through recruitment. I was the first person in my family and group of high school friends to go to join a sorority. Even though I had other friends who were Greek, there were many questions I didn’t even know I should ask. 

Whether you are the first in your family to be Greek, the first at a particular university, or following in the footsteps of several Greek women in your family/friends, you can learn a lot at Sorority 101. Here are five main reasons to attend Sorority 101.

  • Learn about the current recruitment process from sorority alumnae.

Sorority recruitment has changed a lot over the years, so it may be different than when your mom or even older sister or cousin joined their sorority. Alumnae who are still involved with Greek life prepares the content for Sorority 101. We will review the recruitment process from the first day to bid day. Information presented is general; however, differences among universities will be shared as well. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions during the session or submit questions anonymously prior to the talk.  

  • Talk to collegiate members from YOUR university

Recruitment varies from university to university. There will be collegiate Panhellenic women from several universities in attendance (stayed tuned to our social media for updates on which schools!). This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and meet some of the women who will be managing recruitment at your university. It will be nice to see a familiar face when it’s time for Recruitment! 

  • Practice conversation

Recruitment is all about talking to and sharing information about yourself with new people. Take advantage of the opportunity at Sorority 101 to introduce yourself to the collegiate Panhellenic women as well as the other attendees to practice your conversation skills. 

  • Get outfit inspiration

What should you wear each day?! Some local stores will bring samples of outfits and accessories that would be excellent for wearing for Recruitment. They can help you to find ideas for outfits that would be appropriate for each round of Recruitment while staying true to your own style. Some vendors may bring coupons as well. 

  • Make friends and meet potential sisters

The other attendees are in the same position as you – heading to college in the fall and interested in joining a sorority. You immediately have two things in common. Meet new people. Make new friends. Find other women who are going to the same university, and start making friends with women who could possibly become sorority sisters in the future! 

Join us at Sorority 101 on March 1st from 3:00pm-5:00pm at Samford University!

Follow us on social media, Instagram @bhamsorority101, Facebook Birmingham Panhellenic

Register for Sorority 101 at https://birminghampanhellenic.com/sorority-101-event/