It’s hard to believe that exactly nine months and nine days ago I stepped off the plane in Birmingham, AL with three suitcases and a sense of adventure. I knew that I would be working to start a new chapter at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and with that, I knew my time would be filled with long days and endless socializing – something I wondered if I would be able to do with a continuous smile on my face (turns out I’m more social than I originally thought). I had spent the last 22 years of my life in Colorado, and besides the long days, I really had no idea what was in store. Over the past nine months, I have gained so much more out of this journey than I ever could have expected!
First off is confidence. I’ve always thought that I had a sense of confidence, but I was often labeled as the “shy girl.” My friends know that once I warm up I can go on chatting for days, but it sometimes takes me awhile to break down those walls. With this job, that’s not really an option. For my first few weeks in Birmingham, I was the face that was associated with Sigma Kappa. There were no members at that point, so the reputation and view of Sigma Kappa sat heavily on my shoulders. I proudly walked across campus day in and day out with a friendly smile on my face and talked to just about everyone I saw. The phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” is pretty much what I lived by for the first few weeks. I knew what I was doing, but that doesn’t mean that I felt any less awkward approaching strangers for the first time. Though I’m not sure those awkward feelings will go away, I am no longer that “shy girl” who waits to be approached, but rather I am a confident woman who will strike up a conversation with anyone!
I said that I was the face for Sigma Kappa at UAB, but I couldn’t have recruited as many wonderful women as I did without the help of the consultant team and the team of volunteers that came into town for colonization. These women are who kept me sane during the long weeks of PR, and have continued to do so throughout the year with sweet messages and phone calls checking in on me. I am constantly surrounded by women who love Sigma Kappa as much as I do, and truly embody the value of loyalty. They are the ones that remind me why I fell in love with Sigma Kappa and why I wanted to become a consultant. During my collegiate years, I was lucky enough to have a handful of mentors to help guide me through my Sigma Kappa experience, and my hope as a consultant was that I would be able to positively impact some of women that I would be working with like my mentors had done for me.
I like to think that I have impacted some of the women I have gotten to know at UAB, but I’m not sure if they know how much they have impacted me. When I came to Birmingham, I knew that I would gain many new sisters, and now, as I leave, I am not just leaving behind women I call sisters, but I am leaving behind true friends. These friendships will go well beyond this year, and I will stay in touch with many of these women for years to come. We have shared laughs, we have shared tears and we have shared all those memories in between. As I write this with tears in my eyes, I know that there is no way that I can tell you all how much these relationships mean to me. All I can say is that these women will forever have a place in my heart.
When it comes to say my final goodbyes here in Birmingham, I know that many more tears are sure to fall. I came to this city with three suitcases, and am leaving a community that I consider family.