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Intern Spotlight: Morgan

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

By Morgan Christie, Ohio Wesleyan

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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.

Loyally,
Morgan

Intern Spotlight: Grace

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

By Grace Brown, Utah 

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I was in San Diego on spring break, soaking up the sun and hoping to stall my fast-approaching graduation from the University of Utah. My phone rang and without much thought, I picked it up. On the other end? My dream internship with the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation

Well, maybe I didn’t know it was a dream quite yet. I was excited, but actually a little nervous. Did I even really know what the Foundation was about? Was I Kappa enough for the job?

When people asked what I would be doing, I didn’t fully know. Jokingly, I would say I may be calling donors, perhaps even famous Kappas like Kate Spade! 

The reality is, I didn’t meet Kate Spade and casually talk fashion over a cup of coffee. I did, however, meet some outstanding women. Before starting my internship, I was not aware of all the life-changing support the Kappa Foundation provides. And I had no idea that the Foundation is one example of how Kappa is for a lifetime.

Because of the Foundation, a young Girl Scout might get to visit one of the two Kappa museums and learn about women’s history. A girl in middle school, attending a GIRLS Academy program, can learn about what it means to be a leader and be inspired to follow her dreams. An undergraduate Kappa struggling financially to stay in school may be inspired to apply for a Kappa Foundation scholarship.

A member who falls ill and has unforeseen medical bills; a member who has had disaster strike and her home left in rubble; these women can rely on Rose McGill Confidential Aid from the Foundation to help them get back on their feet. For recipients of Rose McGill Confidential Aid, the Foundation even provides joy during the holiday season through its Holiday Program.

So after three months, I can finally answer the question of what I do. I work to inspire our members to be involved with the Foundation and share with them why Kappa is for a lifetime. I work to spread the word about the Foundation so they can continue to provide support and educational programming to our members and those within their communities. Every day, I am inspired by the amazing work of Kappa women. I could not be more proud to have spent my summer with these women, and even though my time here is at an end, it is an experience I will never forget.

Loyally,

Grace

50 Random Acts of Kindness

(Friendship, Leadership, Philanthropy) Permanent link

By Collett Rangitsch, Wyoming, Director of Standards

Collett  

In the fall of 2012, I was staring down the big 5-0 that was approaching in eight months.  I’m not one for parties or celebrations, but I wanted to celebrate this one in a big way (for me). I wanted my celebration to be something meaningful, not in an in-your-face kind of way, but something that could include others and be a true challenge. Then one day I stumbled upon someone who was doing random acts each day of her 50th year. While I’m dedicated, I’m also realistic. With eight months to do 50 random acts–“I can do this,” I told myself.  
 
So I made a list of 50 friends and relatives (I’m a list maker and need constant reminders) and started the search for something to give to these friends to remind them of the challenge I was about to begin. As luck would have it, I found Pay-it-Forward bracelets made by the Oregon company Nashelle. The tagline on the card: “Believe there is good in the world— start locally and watch the world begin to flourish.”

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I gave one to each friend that I asked to join me in the 50 Random Acts Challenge. Each member of the Fraternity’s chapter team was given one and in January 2013, I set out to document my journey. At first my acts were less random and more intentional— the challenge, the bracelets, paying for a cup of coffee for the person behind me. Then one day I realized I was no longer just intentionally doing acts of kindness, but I was simply being more kind to others. I was holding the door, making eye contact with strangers, saying good morning. These little things made me feel good both physically and mentally. I managed to complete my goal of 50 acts by mid-June, and soon realized that I had forever changed my habits, completing random acts of kindness without even thinking about it.  
 
In August 2013, for the eighth year in a row, I spent my birthday at Fraternity Headquarters with my Kappa friends.  We went out to a great dinner and I was thrilled that there was no big deal made about it being a big day for me.  Upon returning to HQ, I got the surprise of my life when the chapter and Leadership Consultant teams showered me with their own acts of kindness.  The chapter team created a special book for me, each writing a page of what the challenge meant to them and some of the acts they had done.  The cover – “Believe There Is Good in the World” – is perfect; the words inside are one of my most treasured gifts.
 
They spoke of stepping out of their comfort zone to do something for others, they mention how sometimes those on the receiving end aren’t as receptive to the act, and they spoke about being inspired.  
 
Their finale was reaching out to a Reading Is Fundamental program near my home in Wyoming. Each donated a book in my name to a local school.  I can’t describe the emotions that I felt at that moment. Books, something that I myself love dearly, were donated in my name, all because I challenged others to join me on this journey!

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So, as National Random Act of Kindness Week begins today, consider doing something special for a random person and be the good in the world.

Loyally,
Collett
 
Editor’s Note: Feb. 9–15  is International Random Act of Kindness Week. Join in the celebration by doing your own random act of kindness and step out of your normal routine. Share your acts using #RAKweek and #KKG and you may be featured on Kappa’s official social media channels.

The Big BANGS Theory

(Leadership, Philanthropy) Permanent link

For many, a trip to China is a chance to experience a new culture and broaden horizons. For Hannah Davis, Clemson, a trip to the Jiangsu Province of Eastern China in 2009 turned out to be a life-changer. At 26 years old, Hannah is now the founder and president of BANGS Shoes, a social enterprise that connects ideology to shoes. “Founding and operating a business was never on my list of things to do,” says Hannah. “I have a degree in political science with a minor in Mandarin, but my passion resides with the potential for individual action to positively impact society. Running BANGS fits my passion perfectly.”

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After spending time in China, Hannah began to see life differently. “I felt so lucky to be born in the United States,” says Hannah. “I had access to plumbing and heating–things that most Americans consider basic necessities. Seeing how people were living in other countries was eye-opening.” Not wanting to forget that important lesson, Hannah got to work on BANGS.

Development for BANGS began around the same time that brands like Livestrong and TOMS were connecting positivity to consumer products. The name BANGS comes from the Chinese character for help, spelled b-a-n-g, which represents BANGS’ business model: 20 percent of net profits are given to people through BANGS’ nonprofit partner, Kiva, to help start businesses.

“I noticed there were two schools of thought when it came to nonprofits … organizations that focus on immediate relief and ones that focus on sustainable methods of development,” says Hannah. She chose to focus on sustainable development and created a business plan to support it. A year later, BANGS hit the market.

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Now, Hannah is making strides to change the world. At the core, BANGS works to continue inspiring a generation of leaders to take action with a focus on eliminating poverty, such as building a well to provide fresh water. In the short term, Hannah is looking to the stars. “A goal of mine is to be on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Of course, being on a ‘Top 30 under 30’ list wouldn’t be bad either.”

“BANGS provides tools that help people pull themselves out of poverty,” says Hannah. “The goal is to have a long-term impact and help communities stand on their own two feet.” The only question from Hannah is: “Will you stand with us?”

For more information on BANGS, visit www.bangsshoes.com.
Interested in becoming a BANGS Campus Ambassador? Apply here.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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