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AE Month: Celebrating our #kkgenius!

(Education, Scholarship) Permanent link


There is a lot to celebrate in February. While Presidents Day and Valentine’s Day may top the typical list, Academic Excellence Month is at the top of any Kappa’s list!

This monthlong celebration of all things academics is an important part of the Kappa year. It is a time that we take to focus on one of the core purposes of the Fraternity: to encourage and support the intellectual development of members.

Being a student is a collegiate member’s top priority, but who says that succeeding academically can’t be fun? Try out some of these ideas to motivate your chapter and celebrate being a #kkgenius!

  • During a chapter meeting, ask members to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) goals for Academic Excellence Month. Examples include studying for a certain amount of hours, earning specific grades on papers or projects, or participating in academic workshops. Review these at the end of the month and reward members who meet their goals.
  • Host a study date with great snacks and lots of motivation.
  • Enter the 2017 Chapter Study Challenge! Create a system for tracking your chapter’s study hours and tabulate the total number of hours at the end of the month. Submit your hours to the Academic Excellence Specialist and see how your chapter measures up!
  • Share photos of members studying or academic excellence events on social media using #kkgenius. The most inspiring posts may be featured on Kappa’s official social media pages!
  • Academic Excellence Month coincides with the National Panhellenic Conference’s Month of the Scholar. Check out the NPC website for more ideas on how to celebrate academics.

Regardless of how your chapter celebrates, Academic Excellence Month is a great way to celebrate the #kkgenius in each of us.

Now, hit the books and have some fun!

Celebrating Our #KKGenius!

(Education, Scholarship) Permanent link

There is a lot to celebrate in February. While Presidents’ Day and Valentine’s Day may top the typical list, top of any Kappa’s list is Academic Excellence Month!

This month-long celebration of all things scholarly is an important part of the Kappa year. It is a time that we take the time to focus on one of the core purposes of the Fraternity: to encourage and support the intellectual development of its members. Being a student is an undergraduate member’s top priority– but who says that succeeding academically can’t be fun? Try out some of these fun ideas to motivate your chapter and celebrate being #KKGenius!

  • During your chapter meeting, ask members to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound) for Academic Excellence Month, whether it be to study a certain amount of hours, to earn a specific grade on a paper or project, or participate in an academic workshop in their major. Review these at the end of the month and reward members who met their goal.
  • Host a “study date” with great snacks and lots of motivation.
  • Enter the 2016 Chapter Study Hours Challenge! Track your chapter’s study hours and tabulate the total number of hours for the month. Divide by your total number of members and submit the average study hours by email to your Academic Excellence Specialist. A prize (and year-long bragging rights) will be awarded to the winning chapter!
  • Share photos of members studying, academic excellence events or your chapter’s banner on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #KKGenius. The most inspiring ones will be shared by Kappa.

Regardless of how your chapter celebrates, Academic Excellence Month is a great way to celebrate the #KKGenius that surrounds each of us every day.

Now hit the books and have some fun!


Mary Pat Rooney
Academic Excellence Chairman, Assistant to the Director of Chapters 

Intern Spotlight: Morgan

(Education, Leadership, Philanthropy, Scholarship, Sisterhood) Permanent link

By Morgan Christie, Ohio Wesleyan


After my chapter’s PR Chairman announced my summer internship news, I was bombarded with the “what will you be doing?” question above all others. My answer: “Well, I actually don’t really know.” Whoops! In the whirlwind process of interviewing and accepting my position, I might have forgotten to ask about my specific duties. Thus, it goes without saying that I came into the Education Department a blank slate, clueless about how my full-time summer job was going to play out.

Despite my uncertainty about my intern duties, transitioning into my role as Education Intern was smooth and easy. During my first day, I was given a list of projects that spanned all areas of Kappa’s educational programming—Leadership Academy, GIRLS Academy, leadTODAY, training workshops, online courses, and website content.

When it comes to educational programming, I was surprised by the breadth of our programs but also by their depth. I quickly learned that Kappa’s educational programs were numerous and needed countless hours of preparation in order to be successful; it seems like the planning never stops.

Leadership Academy chapter participants are chosen in March, over six months before LA even takes place. From there, the Education Department works on finding facilitators, planning travel, updating the event schedule, organizing groups, packing materials, finding alumnae participants– the list goes on and on. GIRLS Academy takes just as much work, including pouring through post-event evaluations, updating the curriculum, working with the chapters, and packing supply bins to be shipped across the country.

In addition to planning, my internship was a lesson in collaboration. Due to the volunteer-driven nature of Kappa and the Foundation-funded structure of our educational programs, so much of what the Education Department does is in collaboration with other individuals. The most obvious way in which this happens manifests itself in the partnership between the education staff and Kappa volunteers. Facilitators for Leadership Academy, Kappa Trainers, GIRLS Academy, and leadTODAY are all trained alumnae who give up their time to give back to Kappa. Without these volunteers, our educational programs would not be possible. The relationships built between the staff and the volunteers runs deep, as most volunteers have been members of the Kappa family for years.

Collaboration also occurs between the Fraternity and the Foundation. The Education Department lives within the Fraternity, but every single one of our educational programs are funded by the Foundation. The Foundation makes it possible for the Fraternity to develop leadership skills within its active and alumnae members, provide middle school girls with a program focused around a values-based curriculum, and bring alumnae and actives together to foster new growth within our chapters. In thinking about how to provide members with lifelong learning, the relationship between the Fraternity and the Foundation becomes so much more important.

Overall, my internship experience has been phenomenal. I was able to connect with a number of ambitious and inspiring women, learn so much more about the daily operations of our organization, and see the ways in which Kappas interact with the Fraternity long after their collegiate days. My time at headquarters has reminded me what our organization can do for its members and has proven to me just how lucky I am to be a Kappa Kappa Gamma.


Intern Spotlight: Cara

(Education, Friendship, Leadership, Scholarship, Sisterhood) Permanent link

By Cara Bargiacchi, DePauw


My summer as the Catherine Schroeder Graf Heritage Museum Intern for Kappa Kappa Gamma originally started as a mystery. When someone would ask me what my job would be, I honestly couldn’t tell them. It wasn’t until I met with Kylie Towers Smith, Simpson, Archivist/Museums Director, that I learned what my role would entail. Not only would I give museums tours, polish silver and discover the history behind our organization, but I’d have the opportunity to choose my own project. I was overwhelmed at first. After all, Kappa has been around for nearly 145 years; how was I going to choose just one project?

Destiny of sorts decided my project for me. One day while searching through Kappa’s online archives, Kappapedia, I happened upon an entry about Jean Nelson Penfield, Kappa’s eighth Grand President. When I read that she too had gone to DePauw, I knew that I had to find out more about her.

It was a process that would involve almost 30 different Archives and Historical Societies, a trip to the DePauw University Archives and hours looking through old newspapers, books and documents. In the end, the story of Jean Nelson Penfield came to life.

Born to a very wealthy family in Greencastle, Indiana, Jean received a superior education compared to many of women of the time. During college, she won the Inter-State Oratorical Competition, the first female to ever win this competition. She also received the only perfect scores in the history of the competition. As a member of Iota Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at DePauw, she attended the first meeting of what would eventually become the National Panhellenic Conference.

After DePauw, Jean ventured to New York City where she attended the Metropolitan Conservatory of Music and founded the Musical Aid Guild, a scholarship program to help those who were less fortunate attend the school. While in New York she met her future husband, Judge William Warner Penfield, and they began their life together in 1897. They had two children; however, both died as infants. As a way to help her cope with the loss of her children, her Kappa sisters convinced her to accept the nomination for Grand President of the Fraternity, a role in which she excelled. During her presidency, Jean focused on careful expansion of chapters, alumnae involvement, civic and social issues, and creating better university-owned housing for women. 

Jean stayed involved in Kappa for the remainder of her life, earning an Alumnae Achievement Award in 1950. In 1946, she was one of the first ten Kappas to receive a 50-year pin. It was Jean who presented Kappa with Iota friend Minnie Royse Walker’s diamond and sapphire fleur-de-lis pin, “to be worn by the President on all suitable occasions,” the very pin worn today by Fraternity President Beth Black.

After her Kappa presidency, Jean earned her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. She became the department head for women and created a lecture series that educated women about parliamentary law and their rights in divorce proceedings and life in general. For the rest of her life, Jean fought for gender equality, a fight that continues today.

This woman, our sister, was ahead of her time. To find that connection with someone who lived long before me, in a different time, place, and society, is truly what Kappa is all about. Though Jean was before my time, her values mirror my own and show me how the bonds of sisterhood extend throughout time. We may not have dressed the same, listened to the same music or shared a talent for singing but we did share one thing: Kappa.



Intern Spotlight: Lauren

(Education, Leadership, Scholarship, Sisterhood) Permanent link

By Lauren Bellatti, Oklahoma State


Stepping into Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, is sort of like stepping into Kappaland — it’s a world all its own. Where else do you put your work day on pause for a wedding serenade on the front steps of the office (watch our “Oh, Pat” remix here), or quickly convert your apartment into a movie set so the Fraternity president can star in a video shoot?

Still, my first days as the communications intern taught me to see Kappa more holistically. Kappa is a story-based organization. Each department of Kappa from museums to education, even finance, has information and a story needing to be heard. The communications department works to share those stories. It’s a lot of moving parts.

One example of these intricate interworkings is the production of The Key. Working on The Key gave me the opportunity to get my hands dirty and experience what making a publication with a circulation of 175,000 actually entails. For example, spending at least eight hours preparing for an interview with World Cup champion Kelley O’Hara showed me that to have one line of usable copy, you need much more research than you might think. I saw firsthand how much time feature stories take because of all the prep and proofing that go into them. In fact, the summer edition of The Key sitting in your house right now began coming to life last December.

Pieces that are in every issue, like Key Achievements and The Grand Tour, are usually begun first. Features really are a feat — all that work actually begins about four months before the magazine is dropped in your mailbox. The Key is captained by an editorial board of 15 volunteers who oversee the vision and creation of the magazine. Equipped with a variety of expertise and perspectives, each board member is a part of the proofing process in order to produce the best publication possible. Generally, a month before the magazine is sent to the printer the board receives a fully designed preview of the final product. There are typically two rounds of proofing before the magazine is ready to be printed. The six month production process is full of details and dramas but each moment weaves together to create a publication that fulfills The Key’s mission of engaging readers in relevant dialogue that fosters lifelong connectivity among members.

In the end, it wasn’t the serenades and or video shoots that made my summer special. My summer was special because I was part of a department that uses the values, individual narratives and history of my organization to fuel stories shared through internal communication, educational leadership programs, social media and The Key and infuse them with meaning. That’s what Kappa does: Kappa places your story in a context bigger than yourself and gives you a place to belong. And I believe if you tell the story of someone that resonates with another someone and then empowers them to write their own story a little bit better, that’s how you know you’re doing something worthwhile.



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