Saturday, January 24, 2015

From Haley's Suitcase: My Friends and Dearest Sisters

Haley Mruz, Tau Chapter
2014-15 Educational Leadership Consultant

A gift from Zeta Tau Alpha at Wright State!
The past 4 months have been absolutely sweet spending time at Wright State University and with our Kappa Delta Colony. It has been quite the honor to see a recolonization, and to see Kappa Delta alumna come and support the new chapter. The amount of support we have received from the

We have had quite a semester, with placing in the top 5 in fundraising for Raiderthon, as well as creating new traditions by volunteering our time at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base with veterans, Kappa Delta has started a strong and 
 committed experience. The members have
Kappa Delta sisters enjoying a Halloween sisterhood event.
created such a warm and loving environment that fosters sisterhood and support, and my heart is happy from having the opportunity to meet them. I am not only proud to call this colony of beautiful women my friends, but also my dearest sisters.
surrounding schools has made the experience here unforgettable, and many of our members feel that they not only gained 53 sisters in AOII, but hundreds from the area chapters and alumna groups.

Kappa Delta's first Leaders Council.

Friday, January 23, 2015

From Rebecca's Suitcase: From Colonization to Installation

Alpha Epsilon's first sisterhood retreat.
Rebecca Easterling, Epsilon Omega Chapter
2014-15 Educational Leadership Consultant

For the past few months, I have had the privilege of working with our new colony at Wingate University in North Carolina. From weekly colony and sisterhood meetings, to a sisterhood retreat, Homecoming festivities, Phi Beta Sigma's Stroll Off, and Sigma Sigma Sigma football, the women of this colony have grown closer and started developing a strong sisterhood!

The colony decided that their chapter name would be Alpha Epsilon and that their submotto would be "Always Encouraging" to remind them to always be encouraging of their sisters. We have also elected our first Leaders Council and Cabinet officers, and it has been so sweet to watch these young women become leaders on this campus. They have TONS of ideas and will, without a doubt, leave quite a mark on Wingate!

Alpha Epsilon's first LC!
As for me personally, Alpha Epsilon has become a home away from home. My sisters here have shown such love and kindness. Getting to know each of them and teach them about AOII has reminded me of all the reasons why I fell in love with AOII in the first place. They have stolen a piece of my heart and I'm so happy to have had this experience!

To say we are looking forward to installation this weekend is an understatement. The members of Alpha Epsilon are ready to know exactly what AOII stands for, and I am ready to share that bond with them!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

From Kendyl's Suitcase: An International Perspective

Kendyl Trail, Delta Rho Chapter
2014-15 Educational Leadership Consultant 

The ELC team is back on the road again to continue visiting the rest of the amazing AOII chapters and colonies throughout the U.S. and Canada! While we had a great break for the last month, it was time to hit the road again to complete the second half of our year. It was hard to leave our friends and families after the holidays but I couldn't wait to head to Canada for my first visit of the spring semester!
I spent the last few days with the wonderful women of Gamma Chi Chapter at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. I shared with them that this was my first visit to Canada, and also my first time outside of the United States so they showed me everything Canada has to offer. The cold and the snow didn't stop us, I had so much fun with the women and it was a packed week of exploring the city and attending continuous recruitment events. My adventures included ice skating while enjoying a "Beaver Tail", exploring the Canadian Parliament building, and even trying ketchup chips for the first time!

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to celebrate Founders' Day with the women of Gamma Chi Chapter and some members of the Ottawa Alumnae Chapter. We had a potluck lunch and then gathered for a ritual ceremony dedicated to our founders. After the ceremony, I realized how awesome it was to share this opportunity with these women. Even though we are from different countries, our bond of ritual connects us together. 

So many times we find ourselves caught up in our own chapter "bubble" but this visit has really helped me understand the importance of recognizing that AOII is an international organization that connects women throughout the United States and Canada. As AOIIs, we are so lucky to be one of the NPC organizations to have chapters in Canada. Often I hear sisters refer to our Headquarters as "Nationals", but we should always remind ourselves that we are an international organization providing women with lifelong opportunities to Exceed the Expectation! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Omicron Chapter House Dedication

From Jane's Suitcase
Jane Tessmer
President, AOII Properties Board

Omicron Chapter's (University of Tennessee - Knoxville) house dedication was held on November 8, 2014 and was well-attended by Omicron Chapter collegians, alumnae, and their families. Special guests and speakers included Executive Board Vice President Susan Danko, Chapter President Kelsey Wood, University Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, President Emeritus Dr. Joe Johnson, and Omicron Chapter alumna and member of AOII's Rituals, Traditions and Jewelry Committee Mary Jane Sharp. Ann Wallace, an Omicron Chapter alumna and active member of the Knoxville Alumnae Chapter who chaired the house construction committee, was also a very special guest. We also had the pleasure of welcoming past AOII Executive Director Melanie Lampertz and her husband Walter, whose granddaughter Elizabeth lives in the house.


Susan and I met and spoke with numerous alumnae, chapter members, and other guests. The house was packed! And it is BEAUTIFUL. The house is a stand-alone, two-story brick structure with a basement, located at the highest point in UT's gated Greek Village. The village is some distance from campus and requires bus/shuttle service. The house sleeps 49 with three to a room, except for the chapter president, who has a private room with bath and small sitting area. These are all located on the second floor with a community bathroom, study/lounge rooms, and a great room for the chapter's Leadership Council to meet. The first floor consists f the house director suite, chapter room with dining room at rear, parlor, foyer, restrooms, kitchen, night kitchen, and entry hall with built-in trophy cases. The pictures we captured will do it more justice than mere words! The ladies of the chapter are delighted with their new AOII home. 



Susan and I conducted the house dedication ceremony and speeches were given by the Chapter President Kelsey, Ann Wallace, Chancellor Cheek, Dr. Joe Johnson, and a prayer was given by Rev. Bryan Wilson. Though our time at the house was limited, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and loved seeing the women of Omicron Chapter and old friends. And, I think we made some new ones.

(Pictured here is Omicron Chapter alumna and past Executive Board Vice President Kandyce Harber with the rose stained-glass window donated by Kandyce and her husband John.)   

Rho Delta Chapter House Dedication

From Jane's Suitcase
Jane Tessmer
President, AOII Properties Board

On November 2, 2014, I attended Rho Delta Chapter's (Samford University) house dedication. As it was Homecoming Weekend, there was a full house! Some of the special guests in attendance included Executive Board Vice President Grace Houston, Director of Housing Initiatives Veronica Kentish, Network Specialist - Alumnae Anna Davis, Samford University President Dr. Andrew Westmoreland, Vice President of Student Affairs Phil Kimrey, and Director of Greek Life Denny Bubrig. Numerous members of the AAC were also there, including Sara Hines, Chapter Adviser. Patti Buksa, the Parents’ Club president and other parents were also in attendance.

The house is a wonderful place for our members to call home. It is a stand-alone, brick, two-story structure high on a hill with fabulous views. The University owns the house and has provided it to AOII for use as a chapter house and residence. The house sleeps 66 and has an RA on each floor. The University maintains the residence portion and the public areas are for AOII to furnish, decorate and maintain (with University approvals). There is a front parlor, residential style kitchen, guest baths, and chapter room that is large enough for chapter and ritual. There are hardwood floors throughout these areas as well as dark wood paneling. The chapter room has a built-in entertainment center at one end and a fireplace with built-in bookshelves at the other end. 

The chapter just moved in this fall and there are still lots of things that will be done to make it an AOII home. The kitchen is in the process of being remodeled and made usable. Interior design work and furnishings will be needed. The Parents’ Club will be a vital resource of time and talent to help with this process! While there, we had the opportunity to meet with Chapter President Jenna Harper, House Manager Blaise Bowman, and New Member Educator Rebecca Jackson, among others. The University President and Director of Greek Life are both very impressed with the young ladies of our chapter, and we are so proud. 

Grace Houston and I conducted the house dedication ceremony. Chapter Adviser Sara Hines and Chapter President Jenna Harper spoke, and we had the pleasure of hearing Director of Greek Life Denny Bubrig and VP of Student Affairs Phil Kimrey speak as well. We had a wonderful Sunday afternoon with the ladies of Rho Delta Chapter, and look forward to hearing about fantastic AOII memories made in their home. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On the Road Again

Kappa Chi/Northwestern State University Initiation
Grace Houston, Executive Board Vice President

On Sunday, October 26, 2014, I was privileged to join Kappa Chi Chapter at Northwestern State University (Louisiana) for the initiation of 30 beautiful new members. Twelve more new members will be initiated in a few weeks. These initiations are the result of a very successful recruitment for this chapter who pledged quota for the first time this fall. This chapter is a wonderful example of what can be done when a chapter and a network team work together with love and patience. Their membership has grown from single digits to 85 outstanding women!
All current members of Kappa Chi Chapter!
The ceremony of initiation was held in a beautiful second-story room in a stately building on the Northwestern campus on a glorious fall afternoon. The women were excited and reverent at the same time as President Regan Cross led a meaningful initiation ritual. Several pictures will be posted on Facebook with “selfies” having been taken on the new initiates’ phones prior to initiation. Kylie Raines, Keeper of the Ritual for Lambda Tau Chapter (University of Louisiana at Monroe) came for the initiation and brought additional robes for Kappa Chi’s Initiation. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bring your letters... and be prepared to smile and laugh a lot.

Chi Epsilon/The Ohio State University House Dedication
Krista Whipple, Executive Board Vice President of Finance  

Katherine Donahue and Krista Whipple cutting the ribbon.
September 21, 2014 - It was a beautiful day for a drive down to Columbus, Ohio for the dedication of the Chi Epsilon Chapter house. The AOIIs rolled out the red carpet to welcome alumnae, members from every NPC and IFC group, and The Ohio State University administration. Special guests Karen Marchese (Executive Board Vice President), Susan Bonifield (Network Director), Jenny Meade (Network Specialist - Leadership) and Janet Evers (Network Specialist - Recruitment) were also present to enjoy the day with the chapter. Chapter President Katherine Donahue welcomed all of the guests to their new home. Special words of gratitude were shared for the Chi Epsilon Alumnae Advisory Committee, the Columbus area alumnae, AOII parents and the AOII Properties Board for making the move to a new facility a reality. We still cannot figure out where AOII Properties gets those giant scissors for the ribbon-cutting portion of the ceremony.

Chi Epsilon Chapter sisters after a night of recruitment events.
The new facility allows the chapter to have meetings in the large chapter room on the ground floor, and the formal living room on the first floor is a great place to meet guests. Outside of free laundry and Friday Brunch for the entire chapter, the most talked about feature of the new house was the Mirror Room. The Mirror Room is off the foyer outside of the powder room and features a semi-circle of lighted full length mirrors. Up the winding hardwood stair case, the women share super-cool loft spaces with living spaces along with a second study area and place to hang out and catch up with sisters. I think you would find me at the chair at the back of the big round table smiling and writing a paper. It was a wonderful day of reminiscing and building new memories with friends.  For those sisters who have just started to build relationships with AOIIs outside of their chapter, welcome to our AOII world. Bring your letters and be prepared to smile and laugh a lot.