When I initially became a member of the Alpha Gamma chapter of Delta Zeta, I was not sure what to really expect. Whenever I was asked throughout recruitment what I was hoping to gain from joining a sorority, I consistently stated that I was looking for a home away from home. As cliché as it sounds, I traveled 754 miles from the home I had lived in since I was born. It was a scary decision to pack up and move across the country knowing no one, which is why I hoped to find that safe, comforting feeling of home in a sorority at UA. I found it quickly within DZ when I met Sydney Anne Dove who discussed Shark Week, Chipotle, and puppies with me. She showed me that I would be welcomed and accepted for all that I was, including my strange mini pig addiction and my love for Crocs. Today, over three years later, DZ is still my place to call home when I’m in Tuscaloosa. I feel accepted when I enter the doors and it is an exceptional feeling that I hope every girl has when they join a sorority. While DZ gave me exactly what I was looking for, it also provided me with so much more than I anticipated. That is why Delta Zeta means opportunity to me. While I’m sure DZ has impacted many in more ways than I plan to discuss, these are the main ways in which Delta Zeta has given opportunities to me.
Firstly, Delta Zeta provided me with the opportunity to make new friends. Going to a university halfway across the country, knowing no one is a very courageous, but also terrifying decision to make. I had no idea how I would make friends at this school. While participating in recruitment helped me to meet new people, my initial pledge class consisted of over 150 girls. I was nervous I would still struggle to find friends at Alabama and within my sorority. Little did I know I would be placed in a small group based upon my last name and some of those people would continue to be my best friends to this day. Little did I know that I would meet my roommate, best friend, and future bridesmaid in the DZ house because she needed to borrow safety pins. The best part of the people I call my best friends today is that they are from all over the country. Because of this, I now have connections in California, Georgia, Ohio, New York, Delaware, Missouri, and even found a friend from a suburb near Chicago who I could then visit over the summer. Without Delta Zeta, I would not have met any of these people who make me a better person each and every day.
This brings me to my next point as DZ provided me with the opportunity to network throughout the country. Besides meeting friends from all over, DZ is a national sorority so there are DZ’s scattered throughout the entire nation. With Delta Zeta, you have the opportunity to meet people in whichever area of the United States that you end up. Delta Zeta also enables you to network locally as many alumnae in the area stay very active in the chapter. For example, Dr. Purcell is an Alpha Gamma chapter alum and she taught one of my honors courses at Alabama. Because of my membership in DZ, she and I grew very close. Not only did I make a close relationship with a professor, but I also found a mentor and someone to look up to. I now have an excellent connection to someone well known to the University of Alabama who will speak fondly of me, which is extremely beneficial upon entering the work force.
While Dr. Purcell has helped me to better myself through her resiliency initiative course, she also provided me with the opportunity to receive scholarships. Dr. Purcell knew me well enough to know that I paid for all of my DZ expenses on my own. Because of this, she recommended that I apply for a local DZ scholarship; I was chosen to be a recipient. Besides the local scholarships that Delta Zeta provides, the sorority also offers national scholarships. With Dr. Purcell’s guidance and recommendation, I applied for these scholarships as well and was lucky enough to be chosen as the recipient of a national scholarship. These funds came to be extremely helpful come the following semester.
In the fall of 2016, I planned to study abroad in Spain. It was bound to be an expensive trip, but it was extremely worth it to become fluent in a second language. Delta Zeta took this into account when choosing me as the national scholarship recipient, which leads me to believe that DZ provides the opportunity to travel. Due to the scholarship I received, I was able to explore all that Spain had to offer without financial worries the entire semester. Delta Zeta allowed me to fully immerse myself into the Spanish culture due to the funds they provided me, which shows how important Delta Zeta feels international studies can be. While I was in Spain, I made some amazing friends and in fact, the mother of my best friend in Spain was a Delta Zeta. Learning this showed me that this really was where I was meant to be and I would not have been able to be there without DZ’s help.
While I recommend that everyone travel abroad should they have the opportunity, it was not the only reason I was chosen as a recipient of a national scholarship. I was also chosen because of my involvement within the Alpha Gamma chapter, which is another way DZ provides opportunities. Through Delta Zeta, I became the Chapter Guard, which provided me with a leadership position within the sorority and something additional to add to my resume. Also through Delta Zeta, I received my current marketing internship due to a sorority sister posting about the opportunity online. I participate in this internship with two other DZ’s as well. Without Delta Zeta, I would not have an amazing internship that I love. My sorority truly gave me the opportunity to become more involved on campus.
While involvement on campus is crucial, Delta Zeta also provides the opportunity to STAY involved. After graduation, many people find jobs in new parts of the country far away from their families. In the same way that me traveling hundreds of miles to Alabama was and traveling thousands of miles to Spain was, this change can be scary and intimidating. However, Delta Zeta has local alumnae chapters throughout the nation that make moves such as this a little less treacherous. I have even seen members of the Alpha Gamma chapter that have graduated become members on the executive boards of their local alum chapters. I have the opportunity to be involved in something other than my work life when I graduate and make even more new, everlasting friendships.
While Delta Zeta encourages involvement, presently and in the future, it also heavily promotes giving back to our local community. Through our national philanthropy, Speech and Hearing, as well as our national philanthropy project, The Painted Turtle Camp, Delta Zeta is able to give back the world in exceptional ways. Beyond that, Delta Zeta asks members to complete community service hours, which are often beneficial to the local community. I have volunteered at the West Alabama Food Bank, helped to clean the chapel at the Phoenix House, and participated in events DZ held to promote our philanthropy. Delta Zeta provides immense opportunities to give back locally, nationally, and internationally.
Because of the campus involvement and philanthropy hours, Delta Zeta allows you to improve your resume each day; therefore, DZ offers the opportunity to be prepared for the workplace. Delta Zeta provides leadership opportunities, requires campus involvement, and offers volunteer options. All of these components are necessary to create a great resume. Delta Zeta also holds alumnae networking events to improve your professional speaking skills, networking efforts, and attire to wear in business settings. At the Alpha Gamma chapter, there is also a database of our resumes to provide examples for those uncertain of where to start and to improve the resume you currently have.
While Delta Zeta does offer wonderful opportunities, the last two are the most important to me, which are the opportunity to have a home away from home and the opportunity to have connections for life. Regarding the home, obviously it was the main reason I chose Delta Zeta. I wanted to feel at home in a place that was nothing like where I grew up. I was lucky enough to find it during the recruitment process and continue to feel this way today. I even found a sister who likes wearing Crocs as much as I do. Regarding the connections, I know that the people I am friends with because of Delta Zeta will be apart of my life forever. My big, my littles, my best friends. I plan to stay in contact with all of them no matter where life takes us. They say to find your bridesmaids in college, but I found mine in Delta Zeta.
While reflecting on the past three years has reminded me of all the opportunities I’ve previously received through DZ, it also makes me hopeful for the opportunities it will provide me with during my senior year and after graduation. Delta Zeta has provided me with so many amazing opportunities and I am forever grateful for the laughs, tears, memories, and friendships that I have gained through this experience.