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Going Greek: Finding sisterhood beyond STA

For centuries, women have been joining sororities to carry on a legacy of service, academic excellence and social aptness. The Dart explored the history of these organizations, the benefits of joining and the steps required to do so.

English+teacher+Jennifer+Quick+and+her+sorority+Kappa+Alpha+Theta+on+bid+day+in+1991.+photo+courtesy+of+Jennifer+Quick
English teacher Jennifer Quick and her sorority Kappa Alpha Theta on bid day in 1991. photo courtesy of Jennifer Quick

English teacher Jennifer Quick and her sorority Kappa Alpha Theta on bid day in 1991. photo courtesy of Jennifer Quick

English teacher Jennifer Quick and her sorority Kappa Alpha Theta on bid day in 1991. photo courtesy of Jennifer Quick

by Julia Kerrigan and Cece Curran

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story by Julia Kerrigan

Darcy Sullivan, a 2016 STA graduate, arrived at the University of Kansas a week before classes started, trying to hide her nervousness. She had spent the summer updating her resume, asking for recommendations from friends and family who had been in sororities and figuring out which chapter might suit her the best. Sullivan’s head was swimming with Greek alphabet letters, GPA standards and philanthropic mission statements. She was intimidated but kept an open mind throughout Rush Week.

“During rush, the biggest thing is to not listen to what other people think and just do what you feel you should do,” Sullivan advised.

The process differs from school to school, but recruitment, or rush, is when prospective sorority members present themselves to their local chapters in a week long process before classes start, according to college counselor Debi Hudson. Sullivan and the other potential sorority members visit house after house, where they are interviewed and possibly invited back the next day. After each day, the girls list their top houses and the houses list their top girls. This all leads up to Bid Day, when each sorority picks their members. For Sullivan, that was Kappa Alpha Theta, or KAΘ. After that, it’s initiation, charity work and a lifetime of sisterhood.

There were three main characteristics of a sorority that English teacher Lindsey Duff considered when she was rushing at Mizzou: philanthropy, grades and the social aspect. She found her perfect fit in Pi Beta Phi, whose literacy promoting service project and high GPA standards appealed to her.

Not only did joining this sisterhood connect her with people who would end up being bridesmaids at her wedding, it allowed her to meet people before her classes even started. Duff noted that even if she didn’t end up in the same sorority as the people she met during rush, they were familiar faces on the first day of classes.

“You don’t have quite as much anxiety over where am I going to sit, who am I going to talk to,” Duff said.

photos compiled by Cece Curran

English teacher Lindsey Duff, right, takes a photo at Pi Beta Phi initiation with her stepmom Laura Nelson in 2003. photo courtesy of Lindsey Duff

These social connections can be especially helpful since the transition between senior year of high school and freshman year of college is notoriously terrifying. Students go from being at the top of the hierarchy in a smaller community to being at the very bottom, often times in a whole new state. Sororities are a way to make the school seem a little smaller, since students are coming from a school of 600 students, and the average medium sized college has 15,000.

“It’s knowing there are 200 women who would have my back at any and all times,” Sullivan said. “Every grade of women is there to help and talk, and in a new place, it’s really nice to have.”

Sororities aren’t for everyone, though. While some enjoy having a support system and the positive peer pressure to achieve in school, others, such as senior Ally Nagle, don’t think it will improve their college experience.

“I know it’s not for me. It’s more rules, more money, less freedom,” Naegle said.

On the flip side of that, senior Camryn Gish has been enthusiastic about joining a sorority since she was a kid. She will be rushing this fall at Texas Christian University.

“It always seemed like that’s what you’re supposed to do in college,” Gish said. “Now that I’m going through the process, I want to do it because I want to get to know people through Greek Life, and be involved in the school since I’m coming from another state.”

English teacher Jennifer Quick, who, like Sullivan, is a Kappa Alpha Theta sister, was the first in her family to ever partake in Greek Life and loved the structure and social connection it provided her with in her years at Mizzou. Like Gish, she was eager to join a sorority to make the connections she needed to run for offices and be more involved on campus. She served as a rush counselor her junior year, advising freshmen through the recruitment process. Quick fondly remembers pranking her sorority sisters over the house intercom by telling them they had a “gentleman caller,” or putting a recently split up couple on a conference call.

“When you live in a community like that, and you have a whole room full of girls doing that, hilarity ensues,” Quick said.

Leaving the sisterhood they’re in now seems like a huge step, but years of coexisting with other women, designing advisory tee shirts and participating in service week have made STA graduates more equipped than they know when it comes to being a member of a sorority, according to Quick. For those who are unready to leave the everyday feelings of sisterhood behind, Greek Life might be their perfect fit.

“The feeling of sisterhood is just as strong as it was at St Teresa’s,” Sullivan said. “I know every one of these women would have my back and step up whenever I need them.”

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Going Greek: Finding sisterhood beyond STA