Goodbye Birmingham

Christian Feagans, Zeta Pi, Colorado School of Mines
Christian Feagans, Zeta Pi, Colorado School of Mines

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!

 

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My first week in Birmingham – so excited to get started!

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.

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One of my final weeks in Birmingham – farewell!

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.

 

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Falling in Love with Pittsburgh

Madison Clark, Theta Xi, Auburn University
Madison Clark, Theta Xi, Auburn University

This year, I had the opportunity to live in a new state and city. When I was first told I was moving to Pittsburgh, I had no idea that I would eventually come to love this new city. These are the top 5 reasons I fell in love with Pittsburgh.

There is no bad view of the city. Pittsburgh is one of the prettiest cities I’ve been to and there are so many gorgeous panoramic views that take in the buildings, bridges and rivers.

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The people up here are friendly. I became friends with four guys in my apartment complex who I dubbed “the neighbors”. They made me dinner my first weekend here and that’s the moment when a beautiful friendship blossomed. I had a random lady help me once when I really needed it. Not to mention the Sigma Kappas at Robert Morris University have been such a blessing to work with this year. They are a great group of young ladies and each of them have a special place in my heart. There truly are some warm and welcoming people here that I’ve met that have made my experience better.

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Pittsburgh provides a fun sports atmosphere. Whether it’s the Steelers, Pirates or Penguins, the fans’ pride is evident. Growing up in a football atmosphere myself, I loved this aspect of the Burgh and had to add attending all of the sporting events to my bucket list!

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Great food options are easy to find. I love to eat at Eggs N’at and Mad Mex regularly to get my brunch and burrito fix. Pierogies (pictured below) are a staple and the community puts fries on sandwiches and salads. They are interesting, but delicious eats.

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This city provides so much to do without being overwhelming: kayaking on the rivers, sports games almost year-round, ice skating downtown and Kennywood which is an amusement park. There are so many options no matter the season.

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I never thought I would fall in love with this Pennsylvania city. I’ve had an amazing experience here. Needless to say I was able to do and see some cool things thanks to my “Pittsburgh Bucket List” and being open to a new place. I was pleasantly surprised to learn everything Pittsburgh has to offer and ended up loving every part of it.

All the Best,

Madison

 

 

California Dreamin’

Addison Reed, Delta Upsilon Chapter, Missouri State University
Addison Reed, Delta Upsilon Chapter, Missouri State University

As my semester of traveling is coming to a close, I had to cross something off of my bucket list; visiting California! Over the course of 8 days, I explored the gorgeous California central coast during a chapter visit and then I took a mini-vacation in SoCal in San Diego.

The adventure started with a chapter visit to Epsilon Omega Chapter at Cal Poly in the sunny San Luis Obispo area. The town was adorable and lucky for me, a quick walk from my hotel!

I tried the most amazing food during my visit. The chapter members made sure I had the full local experience and they loved showing me California favorites, like the Tri Tip sandwich, Acai bowl, and Farmer’s Market corn on the cob.

The second half of my California trip consisted of Cora (a LC teammate) and I exploring San Diego, CA. We accomplished a ton in 3 days. We tanned (burned) at Pacific Beach, hiked Torrey Pines, watched the seals at La Jolla Cove, and rode the Belmont Park rollercoaster at Mission Beach. A lot of laughter was involved.

Each evening, we stepped out of our adorable Airbnb and walked a block down the street to watch the sunset. Everyone would stop what they were doing and stand on the boardwalk to take in the beautiful scene. See for yourself.

 

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California was definitely one for the books. Now I am off to my last chapter visit and a week with the best LC team around. Don’t worry, I’ll be back in the fall!

Dove Love,

Addison

Shake it off! Shake it off!

OliviaFitchett

As I wrap up my first semester of my LC journey, I am reminded of the life change and growth that has happened over the last several months. It’s been a time of reflection, thankfulness, and JOY!

My favorite part of my job is mentoring young women and helping them be the best they can be – exuding confidence and contagious joy! Obstacles (or hidden blessings) are GOOD, and I want the world to know. I’ve seen sisters who feel like they cannot hurdle challenges, and I love being the one to tell them, you CAN! One of my favorite preachers, Joyce Meyer, tells a story that has illustrated this point well in many sermons. I know it’s a message we can all gather meaning from. I’m going to call it the Donkey Story.

 

There was an old donkey on a farm who was playing outside and enjoying the beautiful day. The donkey was running and accidentally fell into a pit. The moaning and groaning of the donkey grabbed the attention of the farmer who was on the porch. When the farmer reached the pit and witnessed what had happened to his old donkey, he decided the donkey was old and the pit needed to be filled anyway, so he attempted to fill the pit. The donkey moaned with every pile of dirt that beat against his head. Shovel after shovel, the donkey grew more tired and began to give up trying to scramble out. All of the sudden the groaning stopped, and the donkey stood up on top of the pile of dirt tossed in by the farmer. The next shovel full, the donkey shook the dirt off and got on top of it. The next one, the donkey shook off and stood on top again. This happened until the mound got so high that the donkey hopped out of the pit stronger and more joyful then he was before.

What kind of dirt is getting shoveled on you? Is it piling up on your shoulders? Do you need to shake it off and rise on top of it?

Bottom line: Life is going to throw dirt on us. We get to decide to shake it off. You see, the pit is only as deep as you make it. The pit is only as lonely, as unflattering, as unclean as you allow it to be. Get on top of it! You have SO much power and so much energy – where are you spending it? Don’t just sit there and wait for someone to throw a rope for you, because chances are it will not happen. Take initiative for yourself and get out.

Go be amazing today and get out of the pit.

Olivia

The one where I say I goodbye.

The one where I say I goodbye.
Cossette Powley - Zeta Omicron Chapter, University of Arizona
Cossette Powley – Zeta Omicron Chapter, University of Arizona

Hey readers,

I want to start off by thanking all of you for reading my blog, it is a huge compliment! I was never really into writing, but this has truly been a solid outlet for me to take a break from my normal day-to-day life! So as I write my very last blog, I am feeling bittersweet. There have been so many ups and downs while on the road and at Oregon. I would not take back any of them, because even though there were some lows I was surrounded by sisters. I was accepted into so many of your sisterhoods, and I am so grateful to have gained all my new friends I made along the way.

I want to reflect on my top ten favorite moments/things I’ve learned while on the road. I hope that you try to be so grateful every day, because life is too short not to have fun and see that in every situation. I vow to continue to live our values, and to never forget all the Ritual experiences I had.  I wish you all the best, and continue to live one heart, one way.

  1. My first visit, Sac State…still love ya.
  2. Visiting all the new states I traveled to: Tennessee, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Connecticut, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia!
  3. Going to Convention as a Leadership Consultant.
  4. Moving to a new state.
  5. Finding some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
  6. Learning new lingo and phrases!
    • Tennessee Wesleyan: “I could throw a rock and hit it!” When referring to proximity.
  7. How to travel effectively and efficiently!
  8. Being on my own, for a long period of time!
  9. Experiencing seasons…a.k.a. real life fall.
  10. Shaping the future leaders of this wonderful organization.

And finally,

Cozy

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2014!
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2016!

The ending

Cora Johnson - Kappa Phi Chapter, Florida Atlantic University
Cora Johnson – Kappa Phi Chapter, Florida Atlantic University

As a leadership consultant and young professional you are taught that a ‘thank you’ goes a long way. I would spend hours trying to find the cutest and best thank you cards in order to say thanks to all the amazing people I have met and worked with. As this journey as a LC is coming to an end, I thought what more appropriate but to write my last ‘thank you’ cards.

A Thank You:

To the collegians,

Thank you all so much for sharing with me your collegiate experience as a Sigma Kappa woman. Adventuring to different states and campuses can be a little intimidating at first (believe it or not LC’s are nervous too) but y’all made me feel right at home the very second I landed. As a collegian you live a very busy and hectic life, and I understand you don’t have enough hours in the day. So thank you for meeting with me and giving me the time to get to know you. Thank you to those collegians who didn’t have to meet with me but fed me, you are true heroes. And last, but not least, thank you to all of the individuals who hung out with me in the living room, who showed me around town and who welcomed me into your life for a bit of time. Y’all have made this year one for the books, and I know y’all are set for great things in the future!

To my family,

Oh, my family. First, I want to say sorry before I start the thank you. Sorry for literally living everywhere and anywhere that’s the furthest place from home over the past 5 years. I love traveling and adventuring while I can and your support over the past half decade has been one of the main reasons I’ve survived. But, thank you (all family; including extended and any and all pets) for always answering my phone calls and understanding my chaotic life. Thank you for giving me all the tools to succeed on my own and for teaching me how to be a strong independent woman. Traveling and living 3 time zones away can become challenging at times and I very much look forward to the holidays now. Thank you for giving me a place to call home and for loving me unconditionally even though it just seems like I want to leave home. I promise, that’s not the case, and I’m so excited to finally be back in the mid-west for good.

To my friends,

All the friends, deserve a long and steady thank you, for putting up with the friend (me) who always decides to do whatever I want, mainly referencing the moving/traveling frequently aspect. Growing up, and especially throughout this past year, I’ve really learned who my true friends are, and let me just say I am so incredible lucky. To have friends all over the country; some from high school, from previous jobs and from college, it’s hard to always keep in contact. This year I’ve really learned that my friends are incredible humans and it’s okay if we don’t talk every day (but I’ve been working on it), because we know we will always support, miss and love each other and will soon have a great reunion. Thank you to all my friends, new and old, for always being there and always putting a smile on my face. I don’t know how to thank you enough, but maybe when we see each other next my face will be good enough (insert hairflip emoji).

To my team

This thank you is potentially the saddest thank you I’ve ever written, because that means this year is coming to an end. I’ve never met a group of women that have fully understood me within a week and still put up with my emotions, or lack there of, and the loud laugh. Y’all have directly impacted my life and have individually taught me something that I now value so much. Thank you all for being the best team ever and always supporting each other, you’ve made this team feel like a second family. I know that y’all are off to do amazing things and change lives, you’ve especially changed mine.

To say the least this year has taught me a lot but it’s because of the people who I have in my life, and everyone deserves the biggest thank you ever.

xoxo,

CJ

The Reason I Now Love Tampa

Nicole Curtis - Theta Pi Chapter, SUNY-Geneseo
Nicole Curtis – Theta Pi Chapter, SUNY-Geneseo

For my last blog post of the semester, I wanted to talk about something that I love: food.

If you too love food, check out this blog or this one!

Initially, moving to Tampa was not love at first sight. I am from a small town and have never loved the industrial feel of cities. My commute to campus on a day to day basis consisted of long stretches of highway with nothing but gas stations, shopping centers and billboards as my view.

When I finally started to explore the city and surrounding area, I started to enjoy the restaurants, little subsections of the city, and of course the beaches and palm trees. Exploring the food scene of downtown Tampa/SOHO (South Howard Street) was when I really started to fall in love with Tampa. If you ever find yourself here, these are just a few of the must eat dining options:

Datz – They have been featured on the Travel Channel and Food Network so you know they are good! Datz has a quirky side and you’ll see it throughout their menu and Instagram. Most of the menu items are decadent and not particularly healthy, so be prepared to go and splurge (I once had a burger that is served on a donut!).

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Datz Dough – Right next door to Datz is their donut shop/bakery. Dough serves up gourmet doughnuts, homemade ice cream, and coffee specialties. Pictured below is an Irish milkshake specially made for St. Patrick’s Day!

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Buddy Brew Coffee – A cute trendy place near Hyde Park that has amazing avocado toast and peanut butter banana toast (they brûlée the banana on top!), and their coffee is so rich and smooth. I always wanted to take an afternoon to do work there after seeing many business men and women stop in with their laptops. But don’t worry, you can also come in yoga pants and a tank top, no judgment!

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Oxford Exchange – This is a MUST for downtown Tampa. Across the street from the University of Tampa is this trendy and upscale café/shop. There is a dining room inside that feels like you are somewhere in Europe eating outside in a covered market or open café (I hope you are enjoying these descriptions as much as I am enjoying writing them!). In the shop you’ll find cute knickknacks that change every few weeks. The sweet potato fries are AMAZING. You can’t go wrong with breakfast or lunch, so better yet, go on a Sunday for brunch; just make sure you make reservations ahead of time because brunch in Tampa is the thing to do.

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Daily Eats – This restaurant has somewhat of a diner feel, but the food is nothing like you would find in one. A friend and I split the French toast bowl (French toast pieces covered in crushed captain crunch, mixed in a bowl with scrambled eggs that have been cooked in maple syrup) and a healthier egg white bowl to offset the former… Photo cred goes to Gourmet Gab!

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There are SO many more wonderful restaurants in Tampa. Next time you go, take some time to explore and find your own favorite spots!

Until next time!

Nicole (#NomadNikki)