By Kayla Noriega, Social Media Assistant and Editorial Assistant
It is no secret that there are preconceived notions about what it means to be in a sorority or fraternity. Having seen the film “Legally Blonde,” I thought I had sorority life all figured out—overly bubbly, girly-girls who look perfect all the time. As a college freshman, I knew I wanted no part in it.
If someone would have told me four years ago that I would end my college experience living with 12 other women in a sorority house, I would have laughed in that person’s face. Yet here I am. I’m graduating in May, I have 12 roommates and I live in the Gamma Phi Beta house.
What initially sparked my interest in sorority life was seeing all my friends who were members have the opportunity to do the things I missed most from high school. There were dances, fundraising events benefiting philanthropies, sports, and, above all, the opportunity to meet wonderful people that you may not have met otherwise.
Becoming a sorority member my sophomore year not only opened me up to what initially interested me, but also fed my love of leadership. When I started college, I had six years of previous leadership experience and was looking for a way to get more involved on campus. Joining a sorority allowed me to do that.
I held the position of activities chair within my chapter in which I was responsible for planning and putting on parents’ weekends for more than 100 women and their guests. At the same time, I served on the Panhellenic Executive Board, the governing board representing the five chapters on campus, as vice president of programming and scholarship.
By holding positions within a chapter and by interacting with many different people, sorority and fraternity members have the opportunity to gain valuable skills that prepare them for their future. Current Panhellenic President Katie Ennis shared how she has benefitted from sorority life.
“Taking on leadership positions within my own chapter, as well as the greater Greek community, has challenged my skills as a leader and allowed me to gain experience that I know will benefit me in the future. Working as a team with my fellow executive members has provided me with skills in communication, delegating and time management,” Ennis said.
We’ve all heard that in the workplace, it’s all about who you know. Probably the most important skill that chapter members develop is networking. Belonging to a sorority or fraternity forces you to interact with individuals in your own chapter and with members of other chapters. This gives members useful communication skills and practice with putting themselves out there.
Krista Fisher, a senior accounting major and former financial vice president for her sorority, has experienced networking firsthand. Both of her advisors for her position were accountants and helped teach her valuable lessons for a career in accounting that she may not have been able to learn in the classroom.
“You meet so many people when you’re in a sorority. You not only make friends, you make professional connections that can help you fulfill your career aspirations,” Fisher said.
From the outside, sorority and fraternity life may have negative associations such as exclusivity and superficiality. Those are just perpetuated stereotypes and in reality, membership is about creating friendships, philanthropic endeavors and cultivating leadership skills.
To cite a familiar phrase that we never seem to outgrow, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The letters we wear represent the strong bond of sisterhood or brotherhood that exist within each organization despite the misconceptions that are out there.