Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself

Jacqueline Newell
Jacqueline Newell

On April 14, the LC team made camp in the conference room at National Headquarters, also known as our playground and source of endless Diet Coke. In between rounds of 52 card pick-up, end of year reviews, and following Robert’s Rules of Order to make any decision regarding food, we discovered one of the most amazing Pandora playlists ever – Hip Hop BBQ. You may be wondering, Hip Hop BBQ? What kind of nonsense is that? Well, folks, it’s not nonsense – It. Is. Magic. Through the classic hip hop songs from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, I was reminded of Jay Z’s Public Service Announcement because he begins me with “allow me to reintroduce myself.”

Forever classic
Forever classic
Cheesin
Cheesin

As you may have guessed, this has inspired my very last blog post as a #sklc. Let me introduce my team – the 2013-2014 consultant team, a group of the most inspiring women I have ever met. We come from all across the country, from California to Maine and some places in between. We majored in many different fields, have a wide range of dream careers, and come from very different college experiences. Our experiences have ranged from being full-time traveling consultants to residential consultants at new chapters to pioneers of new Sigma Kappa colonies.

We have changed so much in the past year and everything we plan to do is…. well, for me, it’s not clear, but I can for sure tell you that my goals are not the same as they were when I first arrived at NHQ in July. This week has been an amazing experience filled with bonding, tears, a LOT of snacks and many goodbyes. I take that back, many “see you laters.”

Allow me to reintroduce us, we are the 2013-2014 Sigma Kappa Leadership Consultant Team.

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An Ode to Our Little Sisters

Derby Date Function
Derby Date Function
Jacqueline Newell
Jacqueline Newell

Last week was my Sigma Kappa little sister’s 22nd birthday. And while I was singing Taylor Swift’s “22” at the top of my lungs and making a Facebook status/altar/shrine dedicated to her, I had a chance to creep on our relationship, as told by Facebook. Facebook reminded me of the time I went back to school for formal to surprise my little sister after studying abroad, and the time she did the same thing for me. It told the story of our big/little reveal, her initiation, formals, bid days, and watching our Sigma Kappa family continue to grow.

Surprise, I'm back from Spain!
Surprise, I’m back from Spain!

On March 23, 2011, I was lucky enough to blow out the candle of an incredibly sassy, funny and caring woman who has since become my biggest fan and my partner in crime. I’ve supported her during sorority dance contests and she’s documented my food eating contests. We bought massive Kentucky Derby-style hats together, rock matching Boston Bruins letters, and do work when we play powderpuff football.

Graduation
Graduation

Getting a big sister when you’re a new member is one of the most exciting parts of the new member process. You’re finding someone who will take you under their wing, show you the ropes and help you through rough patches. What little sisters don’t always realize is that we, as big sisters, need you just as much as you need us.

Knowing that there is someone out there who looks up to me is slightly terrifying but, at the same time, it’s the best feeling in the world. In my nuclear family, I do not have any younger siblings, so this was the first time I could foster a relationship with someone younger than me with the intention of being a mentor. But, it has become so much more than that. Being a big sister has given me the opportunity to grow in so many ways. It hasn’t always been easy, but relationships that last aren’t always simple. She always encourages me and tells me I did a great job, even when whatever I did was a huge flop. I’ve used problem solving skills when it comes to her needs, and I might as well be a certified therapist with all the advice I have handed out (particularly when she doesn’t ask for my opinion).

My "family" at 2013 homecoming
My “family” at 2013 homecoming

I have had the chance to watch my little sister grow, too. I’ve seen her grow as a leader in the chapter and complete her senior research project, and I’ve never been so proud to call her my own. As sorority women, we are lucky enough to form bonds with the chapter at large but even more #blessed to be pushed to grow by serving as big sisters. It’s a responsibility and a pleasure and it’s given me one of the best friends I could have ever asked for.

The Final Countdown

Jacqueline Newell
Jacqueline Newell

After having a Google hangout with my team a few weeks ago, it has come to my attention how much we all love countdowns. X amount of days until we see our families, X amount of hours until dinner, X amount of days until the beginning of a sports season. I have never really been big on countdowns, but recently, I have found myself surrounded by them.

I started writing this blog post on March 18 and thus began my countdown of the last month of being a LC – what a scary thought! There are eight days until I get to see my sister and brother, 38 days until my first half marathon, and 116 days until my birthday. OK, maybe that last one isn’t as relevant, but the countdown to my first half marathon is one of the most exciting things in my planner right now! There have been many women who have run with me and helped me in my quest to become a modern day Forrest Gump. I signed up for the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon back in September, and it is so exciting to know that it is quickly approaching!

Many of the other consultants have countdown apps on their phones, but I prefer the thrill of surprising myself when I look at the calendar randomly and realize what the date is and what events are quickly approaching. As the year is coming to a close, I’m sure seniors are counting down to graduation and others are counting down to warmer weather. Whatever your countdown may be, I’ll leave you with my favorite song about countdowns.

XO

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar (and Do Other Stuff, too)

Jacqueline Newell
Jacqueline Newell

We go by many names: ladies, girls, girlfriends, squirrel friends, gals, wives, sisters, mothers, daughters, divas, femme fetales, and, most importantly, women. In our society, the word women is losing its prominent place in our vocabulary. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of a woman is “an adult female human being.” Now tell me this, why is it then when we hit the age of 18, we are still referred to as girls?

I recently saw an article about “celebrities you didn’t know are sorority girls.” Maybe I have a bad gauge on age but, I’m pretty sure everyone on the list was over the age of 18. Another article appeared in the sidebar about the history of “Cool Girls.” It’s a lengthy read, but the only thing I took away from it was that these women had earned the title cool girl, but not the title of women.

We ought to be uninhibited about being women and remind the world of who we are. Women of character, women of strength, women with style, and women who get things done. Like many women, I hold Beyoncé on a pedestal, but I disagree with her on one thing – who runs the world, girls? No, WOMEN!

That being said, Beyoncé says a true diva “is graceful, and talented and strong, and fearless and brave and someone with humility.” So, if our society isn’t going to call us women, let’s make them call us divas.

Divas!
Divas!

Women Owned the Olympics

Jacqueline Newell
Jacqueline Newell

As you may remember from a previous blog post, the Olympic Games take up about 40% of my daily thoughts. The other 60% is made up of whether or not I should mail clothes home, upcoming travel plans, officer meetings, and how to avoid hills on my run.

If you’ve been watching the 2014 Sochi Olympics, you would know that women have been crushing records and overall making Sochi their sporting playground. Although they lost 2-1 to Russia, the Japanese women’s ice hockey team broke a 16-yearlong goal-less spell. The USA women’s ice hockey team made history by winning 9-0 versus Switzerland. The referee and linesmen for the game were also all women. [Update: Shout out to Julie Chu, ice hockey, for being elected flag bearer for Team USA in the closing ceremonies!]

Erin Hamlin won a bronze medal in the women’s luge singles. She is the first American, male or female, to ever medal in this event. Natalie Geisenberger, Germany, earned gold in the singles luge with over a 2 second margin – the largest gap in three decades and the fifth consecutive win for Germany.

South Korean figure skater, 2010 gold medalist and record breaker, Yuna Kim, is a superstar in her home country, affectionately called “Queen Yuna.” Creeping up behind Kim this year is 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia, hailed as Russia’s “tiny genius” who pushed Russia to gold in the team events. To everyone’s surprise, a different Russian became the first Russian woman to win gold in women’s figure skating. 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova came in under the radar and bettered her personal best by 18 points, stealing the gold. Kim came in second and Carolina Kostern of Italy came in third.

I also wanted to include a video of Surya Bonaly, a 1998 Olympian, who wowed the world by being the person to do a back flip and land on one blade. To this day, she is still the only person, male or female, to complete this move. Talk about being a rock star.

Some say you have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce, meaning you too can accomplish great things. I say you have the same number of hours in a day as these Olympians – so let’s hit the slopes!

Let Me Be Brave in My Attempt

Jacqueline Newell
Jacqueline Newell

Admittedly, I have always been a competitive person, but last week I participated in a couple of events that helped me realize competition isn’t always necessary for every game. While visiting Western Kentucky University, I had the opportunity to meet Katie, a young woman who is one stellar Special Olympics athlete. I first met Katie when I was invited to play basketball at the local community center. Katie told me all about her basketball team and that it doesn’t matter if they win or lose, she really cares about sportsmanship. (She also totally kicked my butt at bowling later in the week!)

Inside the gym was a banner that shared the motto of the Special Olympics:

Let me win. But if I cannot, let me be brave in my attempt.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that motto all weekend, and I think it is something that will continue to stick with me. In life, we all want to be successful and reach our end goals, but we don’t often consider the journey that gets us there.

So this year, as a 2014 challenge, I encourage you all to remember the Special Olympics motto, and even if you’re not the best at whatever it is that you will be doing, be brave in your attempt.

I Get By With a Little Help From My (New) Friends

Devon, Epsilon Delta
Devon, Epsilon Delta
Jacqueline Newell
Jacqueline Newell

While on the phone with a fellow Sigma Kappa the other day, I admitted to her that one of my favorite moments about being on the road last semester was when she sent me a text. It wasn’t long, but it changed everything. That one quick message gave me enough confidence to believe I could take on any challenge.

Emily, Collegiate Service Specialist
Emily, Collegiate Service Specialist

Being a traveling consultant is a genuinely strange experience. No one day resembles those that came before it, and the majority of our daily meetings are with people we’ve never met. But, as my dad says, strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. At each of my visits, I’ve met Sigma Kappas, both collegians and alumnae, who help make each day a little bit more fun.

Epsilon Zeta recruitment advisors
Epsilon Zeta recruitment advisors

I am a completely different person as a result of being a member of the Sigma Kappa LC team. I speak in acronyms, I can pack a suitcase in about 20 minutes, I have a sixth sense for anything remotely resembling ice cream, and I have gained so many new friends.

Brooke Dailey, Director of Specialized Recruitment
Brooke Dailey, Director of Specialized Recruitment

When you’re away from home and your suitcase becomes your life, it’s the little things that help when you least expect them. It may not always be a familiar face, but getting to spend time with those who are passionate about the same thing as you can make all the difference!

Thanks for taking me in, friends!

Erica, Epsilon Zeta VPM advisor and Brenna, Beta Theta
Erica, Epsilon Zeta VPM advisor and Brenna, Beta Theta