September 30, 2016
It’s been over 13 years since I proudly pulled on my first T-shirt adorned with Greek letters. At the time, my limited knowledge of sorority life came exclusively from my sister, Kristen, who had joined Kappa Delta Sorority the previous year at Middle Tennessee State University. I’ve always looked up to my older sister in the way many younger siblings do. She served as a ready-made advice column. A bully deterrent. A best friend. A partner in crime.
With us being less than two years apart, it’s no surprise I followed in her footsteps more than once. Kristen joined the cheerleading squad? I should try out next year. That closet full of clothes just one bedroom over? Don’t mind if I do. Sorority recruitment? Sure. Kappa Delta could fit me, too. I mean, what could be better than having over a hundred more Kristens in my life?
Three days into my university’s recruitment, Kappa Delta released me. I felt discouraged and sad I wouldn’t be able to share Kappa Delta with my sister. I remember calling Kristen; she was more upset than I was, though she encouraged me to stick it out. She pushed me to find my own path, my own home. And so I did. I kept an open mind and fell in love with two other chapters that week. Then on Bid Day, I proudly accepted my Zeta Tau Alpha T-shirt and rushed down the hill into the waiting arms of the woman who would soon become my second big sister. I spent the next four years with an incredible group of women who were just the right fit for me.
While I had friends in other sororities, my college self thought Panhellenic meant teasing my sister and her friends with a finger crown atop my head. It meant going head to head against the other houses on my campus for coveted trophies. It was vying for the best potential new members. Competing for the top year-end Greek awards.
For 20-year-old me, Panhellenic was less about a united Greek community and more about healthy competition and mutual support. We’ll attend your pancake breakfast and then you’ll participate in our breast cancer race. Like for like, follow for follow.
A few years post-graduation, Kristen and I found ourselves back in Memphis. We became roommates and began pursuing careers in our fields—I had a job in graphic design, and she was a videographer for her sorority’s national headquarters. A couple years in, Kappa Delta was hiring for a graphic designer. When Kristen first told me about the opening, I brushed it off. Wouldn’t that be weird to work for a sorority that wasn’t my own? Despite my friendships with a few of her Kappa Delta sisters, I couldn’t imagine a workplace environment full of women affiliated with a different sorority. How accepting would they be of an outsider?
A month passed before Kristen mentioned the open position again—they had yet to fill it. My sense of nostalgia for my own college years with Zeta, along with my growing urge to move on from my current job, had me reconsidering. Why not submit an application and see what happened?
A few interviews later, I got the job. Thinking back on it now, I can’t believe I was ever actually worried—this family of Kappa Deltas embraced me from day one.
Working for Kappa Delta has reinvigorated my love for my own organization. It’s shown me the importance of Greek life after diplomas are doled out and graduation caps thrown. With the immediate acceptance from my Kappa Delta coworkers, my understanding of what it means to be Panhellenic evolved. When you take a step back and examine what makes your individual sorority so great, aren’t our answers quite similar?
Those words come from the creeds and open mottos of Kappa Delta, Chi Omega, Zeta Tau Alpha and Tri Delta. When you put them together, couldn’t they represent us all?
Wearing different letters doesn’t distance us. It connects us. When we all first pulled on those Bid Day shirts, we discovered that second home full of shared values. We found those genuine friendships that would far outlast our collegiate membership. We connected with other incredible women who built us up and gave us the confidence to be better and stronger leaders. We all found a place where we fit.
I’m not a Kappa Delta. I’ll always be a proud Zeta Tau Alpha. But I am honored to feel just as loved by my Panhellenic sisters here at Kappa Delta as I am by my fellow Zetas. Panhellenic may be a different kind of sisterhood, but if you let it, it can be just as powerful. That said, every once in a while, you can still find me rocking a finger crown atop my head at Kappa Delta National Headquarters.
ZLAM (Zeta love and mine),
Senior Graphic Design and Marketing Manager