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Going to Beautiful Lengths

(Leadership, Philanthropy, Sisterhood) Permanent link

For some of the more than 6.9 million women around the world who are diagnosed with cancer, hair loss is the first outward sign that the cancer they were diagnosed with is real. Other side effects, such as weight loss and possible infertility, can be covered or kept personal. But for a woman who has lost her hair, it is the first public display of the disease, a feature that becomes the most noticeable.

“For most of us, hair is just another accessory,” says Alex Hamilton, Event Chairman at Eta Xi, UC Merced. “But for women who are going through or have gone through chemotherapy and cancer treatment, hair is a part of their identity.” So Alex and her sisters decided to grab the scissors and show how giving and receiving this part of a woman’s identity means more than the strands themselves.

Beautiful Lengths

Partnering with Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program, UC Merced held its annual Beautiful Lengths event on campus March 18. “By making the cut, we wanted to help a woman get part of herself back and giving her a chance to feel beautiful and empowered once again,” she says. “We partnered with the ladies of Main St. Girlz Salon and hairstylist Alison Nicole to ensure that whoever wanted to donate could do so.”


According to the American Cancer Society, the estimated number of women who will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. in 2014 is 810,320. During their event, members of Eta Xi were able to gather 32 ponytails from participants, which will be made into about five wigs. UC Merced student Jessica Roque noted how great it felt to donate her hair to someone who needed it more than her. Others left feeling like a million bucks. “We know that this will become a tradition for many years,” says Alex. “We always exceed our expectations with participants and the amount of support we receive!”

Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene® and the American Cancer Society®, the largest nonprofit health organization committed to saving lives from every cancer and improving the quality of life for people facing it. So far, Pantene has donated 24,000 real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks, which distribute wigs to cancer patients.

Leadership Beyond Four Years

(Leadership) Permanent link

–By Guest Blogger Ali Gilbert, Central Florida

Leadership Guest Blog

When I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma 10 years ago, I was looking for the college experience. Not knowing many people on campus and looking for friends, I decided to go through Recruitment.  Not only did I gain a group of best friends, but I learned a lot about leadership that I now use at my job, as a parent, and in everyday life.

So what can a 22-year-old learn from a sorority experience? During my second year as a Kappa, I was elected chapter Registrar, a position which required logging chapter history and maintaining the roster. I took pictures at our events and did behind-the-scenes work to keep the chapter in order. The following year, I was elected Vice President-Organization. At the time, I was unaware of the impact that these positions would have later in life.
These positions gave me three key skills that continue to improve my day-to-day life:


First, I learned that being organized is essential, from my course schedule to my binder full of Kappa paperwork to homework–everything! It’s not always easy, but being organized helps me save time and be more professional.

Time Management

While it may seem like a simple notion, as a student with a full load of college courses it wasn’t always easy getting everything done without a few Red Bulls and all-nighters. Throwing a leadership position into the mix made it a requirement to manage my time efficiently. I learned to schedule my entire day, from meal times to class agendas, and then map out extra time to get everything done for Kappa. With a handy calendar and a stick-with-it attitude, I learned to manage my time well. Now, as a mother who works full time, runs a household, runs to meetings and tries to sneak in a workout every now and then, I am glad I learned early how to manage my time.

People Skills 

Let’s be honest, in a chapter of more than 150 women, you have different personalities, and you don’t always get along with each and every one of them. I had to learn to compromise and practice patience and kindness with my sisters. I learned that everyone handles and reacts differently to situations.  Just because someone does something differently than I would does not make their way wrong. This lesson was by far the most important thing I learned about leadership.  In my current job, I deal with people with all types of personalities and my leadership experience prepared me for this.

These are just some of the many things I learned from Kappa Kappa Gamma. I am so grateful for the experience I had and how it helped me become the leader, coworker and friend I am today.

Making a Hands-On Difference

(Leadership, Philanthropy) Permanent link

–By Guest Blogger Krysta Levy, USC

On a Saturday morning, 44 middle-school girls from 32nd Street Magnet School in Los Angeles, Calif. toted sleeping bags and jammies, beaming with wide-eyed excitement about spending a weekend at GIRLS Academy. And we were equally excited. After two years of planning, prepping and fundraising, it was game time!


In 2012, I was lucky enough to attend Kappa’s General Convention, where I learned about GIRLS Academy. It was a new initiative and as my chapter’s Philanthropy Chairman, my goal was encouraging hands-on service. We had done a lot of fundraising, but I wanted to make a more tangible impact on our community. Bringing a GIRLS Academy to my chapter was the answer.

A month after Convention, we were chosen to host GIRLS Academy in fall 2013. As the chapter coordinator, I had a long checklist to complete. While the planning seemed overwhelming at times, the staff at Fraternity Headquarters gave me everything I needed to host a successful event. By sticking to the timeline and with help from alumnae, we pulled it off.

During our GIRLS Academy, the students participated in small-group learning and journaling. We discussed everything from body image and self-esteem to money management and how to set and achieve your goals. The girls also got to have some fun:  a sleepover with the chapter members with movies, popcorn and dancing. And, the 32nd Street students gave the Kappas some interesting makeovers!

USC Makeup

GIRLS Academy was one of the best things to happen to our chapter. The participants learned a lot, but as collegians we learned even more. We fell in love with these girls and are continuing our relationship with them by holding other events.

I encourage every chapter to apply for GIRLS Academy. You learn so much about your community and there’s no better opportunity to bond with members and local alumnae. I met the most inspirational women though GIRLS Academy and I know you will too! Nearly two years of applications, planning and organizing turned into two days of inspiration, learning and bonding. GIRLS Academy was an incredible experience.

To apply to host a Girls Academy, log in to the members page at kappa.org/members, select “conferences” on the left-hand side, and scroll down to find Girls Academy.

Applications for Spring 2015 are due April 1.

Wearing the Golden Key ... At Last

(Sisterhood) Permanent link

–By Guest Blogger Cindy Haffner Howe, Washington State

When my son went to Washington State in 2002, I visited the Kappa house during Moms’ weekend. Hanging on the wall outside the chapter room was a beautiful blue quilt with a picture of the 1950 pledge class. I spotted my mom, JoAnne Carlson (Kruger), sitting in the middle of the picture. Mom, who left school before she initiated, was representing Kappa all these years without knowing it.

JoAnne was valedictorian of her high school and was given a scholarship to attend Washington State University as a pharmacy major. She pledged Gamma Eta Chapter in 1950, but back then members were not initiated until the spring.  

JoAnne 5

My mom was ready to officially join Kappa until love intervened. Her boyfriend, my dad, asked her to marry him at Christmas and mom did not return for spring semester. After returning home to Spokane, Wash., and taking a job to pay for the wedding, they married in June 1951. Mom eventually went back to school to complete her education, graduating summa cum laude from Eastern Washington University.  

Twenty-two years later, I also pledged Kappa at Washington State. Although Mom and I have always shared a love of irises and the color blue, I was heartbroken that I could not share Initiation with my mom.

In 2012, Fraternity Council unanimously voted to allow Mom to be initiated under special circumstances. I was thrilled at the thought of her dream finally being fulfilled and thrilled to pin a family member. After all, my two daughters pledged Delta Gamma and this was going to be my chance to pin a Kappa.  

There are no words for the emotions I felt as I drove Mom down to Pullman, Wash. We shared stories of Kappa and the bonds of sisterhood. Mom never mentioned being too old or this seeming ridiculous. Kappa sisterhood was something missing in her life and now, at 81, she was finally going to wear the golden key. Kate, my best friend from high school and a Kappa at Beta Pi, Washington, joined us for this momentous occasion.

JoAnne 4

The active members were almost as excited as we were. They could not have been more welcoming or gracious. Mom, Kate and I were invited to stay in the guest room, where we ended up laughing, crying and sharing a cherished memory together. I was worried we were invading a special time for the collegians, but quickly learned we were showing them that Kappa extends far beyond college. This bond is something that grows more valuable with age.  It is a connection that lasts a lifetime! Mom did not stop smiling all weekend.  


The following weekend, Mom attended Founders Day with the Spokane Alumnae Association.  She was reacquainted with her Kappa big sister, Katherine “Kashie” Watson Gregory, and other members of her 1950 pledge class.  It was the perfect ending to an unforgettable experience.  Sixty-three years may seem like a long wait to realize the dream of becoming a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, but my mom was never one to give up on her dreams. Thank you, Kappa, for granting this special request and reminding me that there are some things worth waiting for.

Ignite The Spark

(Leadership) Permanent link

—By Guest Blogger Georgia Petrides, Colorado

As an active member of Beta Mu Chapter, Colorado, I had the opportunity to serve as my chapter’s New Member Chairman in 2012 and then as Panhellenic President in 2013. While Panhellenic President, I had the privilege of representing the University of Colorado at the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI) in Indianapolis, Ind. Since I had no idea what to expect at UIFI, I was apprehensive. The women who had attended before me assured me that it was going to “change my life.” Part optimistic, part skeptical and very curious, I packed my bag and traveled to the Alpha Xi Delta chapter house at the University of Indiana-Bloomington, host of the 2013 UIFI.

UIFI was life changing. I was enriched by the experience of living in the chapter house at UIFI with other leaders.  It was an honest experience and forced me to step up as a leader for my Greek-life community. Exposing and confronting serious issues within the Greek-life culture made me grow as a woman and inspired me to strive to be a better human being. I was already so grateful and proud to represent the blue and blue, but attending UIFI was the next step.

UIFI gave me the confidence, knowledge, strength and support to stand up for what I know is right. I was given the perspective of the greater good and learned the potential of my community. In the end, a spark was ignited, a spark to continue the legacy of my community: a legacy of friendship, service and integrity.

UIFI’s purpose, as I came to find out, is to inspire and educate participants to become builders of the future. According to their website , 98 percent of participants felt they were better leaders because of UIFI, and 99 percent agreed that UIFI deepened their commitment to Greek life. I couldn’t agree more. It was by far one of the most amazing and enriching experiences I have ever had in my leadership and collegiate career.

In five days, I grew as a leader. I grew as a woman. UIFI was a step up from being in the small world that was my chapter and my campus. It broadened my horizons, making the fraternity experience greater than I imagined. Coming together with other chapters and groups was an eye-opening experience and I learned more than I ever could have anticipated. I attribute all my successes since returning to campus to UIFI.

Editor's Note: If you are interested in attending UIFI 2014, please complete the application by March 1. Applications should be submitted to education@kkg.org. Recipients will be notified by March 15.

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