I’ve seen how the movies perpetuate the sorority girl stereotype. I know what people outside of Greek life think of us, especially when they see a blonde wearing letters. With all of this, I can definitely understand my friends’ and family’s surprise when they found out I was going through recruitment. After all, how could a shy, quiet, timid, introverted, engineering freshman like myself possibly be interested in a sorority?
I joined Alpha Omega Epsilon my first semester of college. Recruitment started only a few weeks into the school year, so I really haven’t known college without this organization. So why, despite the stigma, did I decide to join *gasp* a sorority? Out of the hundreds of student groups out there, what drew me to this one in particular?
I can’t speak for all of Greek life since A.O.E. is very unique. We’re a professional engineering sorority- super small (around 40 active sisters), close-knit, nerdy, and different. We do our own thing as a group in comparison to other Greek organizations, but we also recognize the individuality of each one of our members. We don’t look the same or try to fit the mold of what society thinks sorority girls should be.
I also have friends in a variety of different Greek organizations and, even though they may live in official houses, hold mixers, or be 500-actives strong, they are all individuals as well. They are all inspiring, passionate, and driven in their own right and there is absolutely no reason for negative stereotypes to overpower any of that.
Now that I’ve gone off track, let’s get back to why I finished out candidacy and went on to become a sister of A.O.E…
It made a big campus feel so much smaller.
I’m an out-of-state student and didn’t know a single person upon coming to college. As soon as I walked into the first recruitment event, I could see how at home these girls were with each other. I’m not going to lie, that’s what I wanted.
We hear it all the time as new classes of sisters come in, but it’s completely true- the bonds and friendships we have with each other run so deep. They’re real and they’re sacred. It really says something that our genuine love and appreciation for each other is so obvious to other people.
I see my sisters absolutely everywhere. At a school of over 30,000 students, I never would have expected to run into so many familiar faces as often as I do. I run into them in the dining hall, in the student union, in line for coffee, in the elevators, in between classes, and just walking around campus. Being able to see my second family throughout the day always lifts my spirits and really enforces the idea that it is possible to get the small-campus feel at a large university.
There’s always something going on.
Between chapter, committee meetings, weekly official events, percentage nights off-campus, and daily impromptu hangouts, it’s hard to be bored. When I happen to find a day with no sorority-related business, I have forty girls available to call up for coffee, studying, lunch, or some other campus happening. With sisters living all over campus, there’s always someone close by to spend time with!
I found a cause to fall in love with.
Our philanthropy, Dress for Success, is absolutely incredible. They work “to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” As a professional sorority, we pair so well together. We’ve been able to volunteer with them as well as meet some of their clients, who are all hard-working, motivated, and inspiring women. We try to support them in as many ways as possible, from working their warehouse sales, to running a clothing drive, to fundraising and hosting benefit events. Being able to work towards raising even more money with each new semester is so much fun and we’ve been able to see first-hand what Dress for Success can do for women in our community.
I learned how to be confident in professional situations.
Last semester, I was elected professional development chair for our chapter. In acting as such, I found a passion for (obviously) professional development. I learned how best to represent myself, how to build a professional wardrobe, and how to hone various skills needed in the workplace. I absolutely loved learning all things professional, which led me to bring the professional development series to Sweet Tea Epiphany (installment on career fairs, tips for undergrads, social media marketing, and resumes)!
Coming in, I was a clueless freshman who knew absolutely nothing about LinkedIn, acing interviews, finding internships, or networking. After just one semester with having to dress business casual for meetings and going to sorority PD events, I had already increased my own confidence and knowledge in a variety of aspects of the professional world.
I have forty of the best role models and an invaluable alumni network.
Real talk, I aspire to be like every single one of my sisters. They are so amazing and they have accomplished such incredible things. I know they will change the world and I can’t wait to see all that they go on to do. Each one of them encourages me and pushes me to be the best I can be. They’re so upbeat and driven, it’s impossible to be in a bad mood around them.
Our alumni are just as wonderful and many stay connected with our active chapter over the years. It’s so great to learn from them, yet we can still talk just as sisters like there isn’t any distance between our generations.
The academic support system is unreal.
Honestly, I don’t know if I would still be in engineering if I didn’t have this sorority. We share the same struggles and there’s always someone who has been through what someone else going through now. My sisters give some of the best advice and we truly want each other to succeed.
I have multiple classes with sisters (or at the very least have a sister in a different section) so there’s always someone to text in a panic the night before an exam. We represent nearly every engineering discipline, so it’s basically guaranteed that someone has already taken a class you’re looking to take and can give you old notes, textbooks, study tips, and professor recommendations.
These incredible women have made college so much easier and more enjoyable. I have absolutely no idea where I would be now if I didn’t have them in my life.
“From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it.”
I’ve subleased from sisters. I’m renting a house with sisters next year. I’ve done workshops, workouts, ice cream runs, service, and last-minute homework with sisters. They know my highs and they know my lows. They know my goals and they support them. I know I could call any one of them at any time of day and they would show up for me.
I’m not paying for friends and I think that’s one of the biggest myths surrounding Greek life; these relationships happen naturally. We pay for the overall running of the organization and for the fun events we get to go to with each other. I went through recruitment and candidacy because I found my place among these people. Where else can you get a group of girls together and find honesty and loyalty in place of cattiness and competition?
It’s not four years (or five because engineering) of “just a sorority.”
It’s a sisterhood for life and I’m so lucky to have found mine.
~How has going Greek changed your life?