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Values in Action: The Value of Advising

Four years ago, I was preparing to move coast-to-coast from South Carolina to Oregon for my first full-time job out of graduate school. I had grown up and spent the first 22 years of my life in Missouri where I joined the Epsilon Iota Chapter of Kappa Delta at the University of Missouri, followed by a couple years of grad school at the University of South Carolina. I had just accepted my first dream job at Oregon State University. Oregon seemed impossibly far away, but I packed up my Chevy Malibu with everything I could manage to fit in and made the 48-hour drive by myself.  

Sometime during the frantic mess of packing up my life back in South Carolina, a Kappa Delta sister reached out to me after hearing I was moving to Oregon. She asked if I wanted to serve on the Alpha Kappa Chapter’s Chapter Advisory Board. Kappa Delta had been such a huge part of my collegiate experience, and I always knew that I would stay involved throughout my life, so I eagerly accepted the opportunity even though I wouldn’t arrive in Oregon for a few more weeks. 

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After just shy of 3,000 miles of driving, I made it from Columbia, South Carolina, to Corvallis, Oregon! 

I finally made it from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and was settling in to my new town completely alone. I had no family or friends anywhere near Oregon. It was my first job after graduation, and I had no idea how to make friends in the “real world.” What seemed like an exciting adventure of moving to the Pacific Northwest began to give me a sinking feeling realizing there was nobody there to support me.  

And then there was Kappa Delta. 

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When I first arrived in April 2015I immediately fell in love with the glass featuring our creson the front door of the Alpha Kappa chapter house 

I was invited to the first CAB meeting sometime in April 2015, and when I walked into the Alpha Kappa chapter house, I immediately felt at ease. Finally, I was able to meet a group of women with whom I didn’t have to try to find a common connection. I didn’t have to play the “20 questions” networking game to figure out what to talk about with them. I could talk with the other CAB members about Kappa Delta and our experiences from our collegiate days. My first time feeling like Oregon could be my “home” was when I connected with Kappa Delta and our local CAB. 

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A few members of the Alpha Kappa CAB showing off our CAB Award of Excellence from Kappa Delta Convention 2017! 

As I began my time on CAB, I was paired up to advise the vice president-public relations, a woman named Natalie Stone. I was quickly impressed with her — she didn’t just do a great job with PR, but she was also an exemplary Kappa Delta and role model to her sisters. Our meetings were easy; Natalie came prepared, asked smart questions and sought my advice on tough challenges she faced in the chapter. Natalie ended up being elected president for her next term, and later that winter, I was asked to take over as the chairman of CAB, which allowed me to continue working with Natalie for another year. Advising a president like Natalie was a joy because she was such a natural leader, but I still felt gratitude in knowing that in small ways, over conversations at a local restaurant eating baskets of tater tots, I contributed to her journey as a leader, a woman and a Kappa Delta. 

After Natalie graduated from OSU, I was thrilled to hear she had accepted a full-time job at Kappa Delta headquarters beginning September 2017, and I even got to meet up with her at a professional conference for fraternity/sorority advisors in November 2018. It was a special moment to see how our advisor-mentee relationship had evolved to being professional friends even though she had moved from Oregon to Memphis. I felt proud seeing Natalie representing our sorority on a national level, thinking back to our first conversations when she was a sophomore in college.

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Natalie Stone (right) and I meet up at the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Annual Meeting in 2018. 

Through CAB, I have reconnected with Kappa Delta’s Ritual in a way that is completely different from when I was 18-21 years old in college. I find comfort in knowing that while I grow, learn and change, the values of the organization I joined a decade ago will remain the same. I’ve participated in countless initiations as a CAB member, and each time I think back to when I was a chapter member with my pledge sisters standing next to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked out of attending Ritual as a CAB and immediately texted two of my closest KD sisters to reminisce and gush about how glad we all are that Kappa Delta found us in 2009. 

Advising can be hard work. There will be upsets, frustrations and times when you may want to quit. But if you stick through the tough times, I promise you’ll find countless conversations with a collegiate sister where your words can make all the difference in her life. I’ve edited resumes and cover letters for Alpha Kappa sisters seeking jobs, I’ve offered tissues and hugs when they’ve cried about life circumstances, and I’ve cheered them on when they’ve been recognized for phenomenal work on campus at Oregon State University.  

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Members of Alpha Kappa holding the Vanderpool Cup, awarded to the top Panhellenic chapter at Oregon State University, in May 2016. 

Because, you see, being an advisor for Kappa Delta doesn’t mean you’re simply advising on matters related to the sorority. While that’s paramount, you also become an advisor for your collegiate sisters in life. Through their academic challenges, their relationship struggles, their homesickness, their fears about graduation, their job searches, as a CAB member you become the comforting adult who reassures them that the real world isn’t so scary. Sometimes, you even bake 200+ cookies for Preference night of recruitment because the chapter asked you to… the fun of being a CAB member truly never ends! 

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Sometimes, giving of your “time, talent and treasure” means using your baking skills to prepare hundreds of shamrock cookies for Preference round! 

Being a CAB member has added so much value to my own life. I give countless hours to our local chapter, and in return I get an enormous sense of gratitude for our sisterhood. I see how my time and my advice have shaped women into leaders who will do great things in the world when they leave college. I see the chapter grow and succeed in their philanthropic efforts and in their reputation on campus. Through all of Alpha Kappa’s successes, I know that all of us CAB members have played a small role in leading them forward. 

Natalie Rooney
(Epsilon Iota-Missouri)

 

Download the “I’m proud to be a volunteer for Kappa Delta” graphic and tell us why you volunteer on social media! The graphic is available as a square graphic and a vertical graphic (perfect for Instagram Story).

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