My Experience As An Alumna Initiate

By Tamiera Vandegrift on June 30, 2019

Even though I never saw myself as the stereotypical sorority type, I found my home and my sisterhood as an alumna initiate.

When I started college, I had no interest in joining a sorority. Honestly, my mind was full of all the same stereotypes and misconceptions that many people have about sororities and Greek life. Specifically, I thought I had to fit a specific mold to be a part of Greek life: a bouncy, energetic extrovert. At the time, this image intimidated me and wasn’t something I thought would fit my identity.

This changed my senior year of college. I made it to the final stretch of my undergraduate career and found that something was missing. I never really found my “people.”  Sure, I made a ton of amazing friends during my time in college, but I never had the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself. I found this opportunity when a friend made a post about Panhellenic recruitment registration opening up. At that moment, I knew exactly what I wanted.

I did extensive research on the sororities at Florida State to find the one I thought would be right for me. I attended Florida State’s Summerfest event (which is an opportunity to meet members of Greek life from all four councils at Florida State) and met a plethora of amazing women. There was one chapter that stuck out to me. We connected over the philanthropy, a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I knew that if I went through Panhellenic recruitment that there was a very strong chance that this would be the house for me.

Unfortunately, I was discouraged by many from going through with recruitment due to the fact that I was a senior and would be graduating very soon. As a result, I put my dreams of joining a sorority and running home with the rest of my sisters on bid day on the back burner to focus my attention on graduating and jump-starting my post-grad career. This decision broke my heart, especially when my social media feed was full of pictures of friends in Greek life going through rush.

I joined a service sorority during my senior year in the hopes of finding the sisterhood I always wanted but was held back by an extremely busy schedule and a lack of connection with the girls around me. Even though I met a lot of great girls that I’m still close with to this day, I still hadn’t found what I was looking for in terms of sisterhood. Like destiny, one of my close friends from this service sorority introduced me to the Alumna Initiate program and that’s where my journey began.

sorority house, alumna initiate, Gamma Phi Beta, Alpha Chi Omega, sororities

Image via: Pixabay

With a hopeful heart, I looked up the Panhellenic sorority that I made a genuine connection with at Summerfest and sure enough, they offered an alumna initiate program for women like me who haven’t pledged a Panhellenic sorority in school. Without hesitation, I filled out the online application and eagerly awaited a response. Shortly afterward, I was contacted to schedule an interview with two alumnae members of the sorority.

As I watched the number pop up on my cell phone, my heart was full of anxiety. How would this phone call turn out? I thought to myself. What happens if they don’t think I’m a good fit? Would I ever find the sense of sisterhood I wanted? These fears quickly evaporated after a few minutes into the phone call when I found a genuine connection with the women I was speaking with. I knew then and there that I made the right decision and found my way home.

Seven months later, I found myself shopping for an initiation dress. I was welcomed home with open arms. The ceremony itself was beautiful and emotional, leaving me teary-eyed by the end. I was officially an alumna initiate of Alpha Chi Omega.

Alpha Chi Omega, Florida State University, Greek life, FSU Greek life

A gorgeous picture from my initiation ceremony, one of the happiest moments of my life.

Right away, I found ways to get involved and connect with my fellow sisters. I found a network of thousands of women dedicated to the same values and empowering one another. At long last, I found a sense of home and sisterhood.

Looking back, I don’t think I would have done anything differently. Even though I didn’t have the sorority experience in college like many women involved in Greek life, I found that experience and that sisterhood after graduation as an alumna initiate. I’m honored and proud to be an Alpha Chi. I’m honored and proud to wear letters that represent over a century of art, love, service, and female empowerment. Most of all, I’m honored and proud to call thousands of real, strong women my sisters. I’m honored and proud to call myself an alumna initiate of Alpha Chi Omega, having found my home at last.

Tamiera is an alumna of Florida State University, having earned a BA in Editing, Writing & Media and a BA in Digital Media Production. Tamiera is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, inspired by the works of Lars von Trier, David Fincher, and Darren Aronofsky. She is also a proud Alpha Chi Omega. Tamiera has previously written for the FSView and Florida Flambeau, College Magazine, and more. She has recently published a creative thesis containing short stories based on mental illnesses in the media. Currently, Tamiera is pursuing her MA in Creative Writing. In the future, Tamiera aspires to win "Best Original Screenplay" or "Best Picture" at the Academy Awards with one of her film projects. Besides writing and storytelling, Tamiera enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with friends, and geeking out over movie trivia.

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