For National Panhellenic Conference members, summer is truly a special time. Hundreds of women gather to celebrate sorority and all that their national organizations have to offer – camaraderie, connections and conversation. From one convention destination point to another, you will find women gathering to strategize about advocacy, bestow honors, memorialize student and alumnae leaders, and share best practices.
As we all respectively head to our annual conventions this summer, we thought it appropriate to share convention memories from your current executive leaders here at NPC.
I was pledged and initiated at a small university and chapter. When I graduated, I joined an alumnae chapter. But it wasn’t until my first national convention that I realized the true meaning of lifetime membership.
I witnessed the excitement of sisters, young and old, reconnecting with sisters they had not seen in years, or meeting new sisters, and realizing we were not strangers, but women who shared a special bond through our membership in Alpha Xi Delta.
In later years while attending other NPC member group conventions, I saw that same excitement and pride in their sisterhood and organization as I had in mine. As I witnessed the shared experience, I realized the potential we have to advocate for women and the sorority experience.
Here are other memories from NPC leaders:
Jean Mrasek: My first sorority convention was 30 years ago. I was chapter president and arrived at the national meeting totally wide-eyed and anxious to learn more about Chi Omega's history and teachings. It was an incredible experience that taught me that the sisterhood circle was much larger than I ever imagined. I was impressed with the intergenerational aspect of the gathering - collegians and alumnae of all ages. I left inspired as a Chi Omega chapter officer who could make a difference on my campus. I did not dream that my degree of impact one day would be widespread as an elected national officer of my beloved fraternity. And I did not realize the number of lasting friendships that would be formed as a result of my involvement with NPC. Indeed, the sisterhood circle is much larger than I ever imagined. Not only do I have a special bond with my Chi Omega sisters, but I have a special bond with my Panhellenic sisters who also share common values and standards.
Mary Jane Beach: Kappa Alpha Theta will convene its 70th Grand Convention in Tucson June 28. While attending convention is now familiar, the excitement is nearly the same as the first time. My first Kappa Alpha Theta Convention was so inspiring. As the Jacksonville, Florida, alumna delegate, I attended not knowing a soul. I was so impressed by Lissa Bradford presiding as Grand President (who would later go on to serve as NPC Chairman) and how she demonstrated the values of Kappa Alpha Theta, I promptly went home and wrote her a letter telling her this. Little did I know then what opportunities the future held! This experience set my course of Theta volunteering at the local, district and national levels including Fraternity President as well as NPC Delegate and my current Executive Committee service with the National Panhellenic Conference!
Julie Johnson: To say my collegiate chapter was isolated from other Kappa Delta chapters is an understatement. The closest chapter was 500 miles away, so I had had no exposure to other collegiate sisters. I remember walking into the lobby of the convention hotel in Miami Beach, and was awestruck with seeing National President Jean Tucker Stradley greeting people. It was like seeing a movie star for me. I met sisters from collegiate chapters all over the country, some much larger (and also smaller) than mine. We shared stories and ideas and problems. Even though I had just met them, I felt that "instant" connection and bond, and quickly realized their chapter issues were really not much different than those of my own chapter. I have been to more than 15 national conventions. Even though I have fond memories from each of them, nothing will ever replace that excitement and awe I had from attending that first convention as a collegian.
Josette Kaufman: The dictionary offers one of definition of “sister” as having a close relationship with another because of shared relationships. If that’s the case, I believe the National Panhellenic Conference is my other mother because of all the close Panhellenic sisters I have been fortunate enough to gain through my sorority experience. At a recent convention I had the opportunity to install Phi Sigma Sigma’s current National President, Alicia Scott. Just before her installation, we also installed her mom Patty Scott. It reminded me of 13 years earlier when my own mom, Nancy Marshall, was installed as a Phi Sigma Sigma prior to my own installation as National President. I credit my own mom and my NPC mom as having shaped me into the sorority woman I am today.
Do you have a convention story to share? If so, tell us about your special moment on Facebook or Twitter and use this hashtag #sororitytraveler. We hope you enjoy your summer and quality time spent with sisters.