Empowered Women Empower Women – Circle of Sisterhood at USC

By Darby Nugent, College Panhellenic Association Vice President of Philanthropy

After spending a year abroad working to promote education for young girls in Central America, I knew I want to spend my time in college doing the same. Within a week of returning from C.A. I was headed down to USC for sorority recruitment and feeling completely overwhelmed. I didn’t know if being in a sorority was really for me. Then, my first day of recruitment, I attended the Sorority 101 program. Hearing about the time and financial commitment of being in Fraternity and Sorority Life was helpful, but what changed my mind about whether or not I belonged in the community at USC was hearing about our Panhellenic philanthropy, Circle of Sisterhood.

IMG_4869.jpgHearing Ginny Carroll, the founder of Circle of Sisterhood and a sorority alumna, speak about the impact education can have on a girl’s life and the numerous barriers girls in underdeveloped nations must overcome to achieve education resonated with me. The pictures she showed of the numerous treks she had been on and the women that Circle of Sisterhood had empowered made me think of the girls I had worked with during my gap year. During my time in Central America I spent most of my time launching an after school program in one of the underserved villages in Belize. I remember on my first day there asking a group of girls, no older than 12, what they wanted to be when they grew up and every single one of them saying they didn’t want to be anything- they had never been given to opportunity to dream and aspire to a profession. This was heartbreaking for me. 

Circle of Sisterhood’s goal is to change this. Through education, Circle of Sisterhood seeks to empower women. Education is the answer to many of the global issues related to women such as poverty, oppression, misogyny, abuse, and brutality. However, education is not always easy for young girls to obtain. Several barriers such as cultural norms, security, human trafficking, and cost of education prevent girls from going to school. Circle of Sisterhood seeks to remove these barriers and make education accessible in order to empower women and girls globally. After all, studies show that educating girls is the most effective way to fight poverty.

CPA chose Circle of Sisterhood as their philanthropy because sorority women are the largest group of college-educated women in the world. We’re also super passionate about changing the world for the better, making us the best fit for Circle of Sisterhood’s mission.

I loved Circle of Sisterhood’s mission and I totally agreed with the process and I knew IMG_0380.JPGit was something that I HAD to be a part of. By my second semester at USC, I was already the Circle of Sisterhood delegate and committee head for my chapter. It quickly became my favorite thing about not only Greek Life, but my college experience at USC as a whole. The more I learned about women’s rights globally and the more I invested in Circle of Sisterhood, the more acutely aware I was of the privilege we have simply by attending college. I want to make a difference for girls who are not as fortunate as I am.

As I start my third year here at USC as the Vice President of Service for College
Panhellenic Association and the committee head for Circle of Sisterhood, I can’t wait to continue promoting awareness and education for girls globally. I also look forward to going on trek this December to build a school in Senegal which will give numerous girls access to education and empower them and their futures.

Learn more about Circle of Sisterhood here

Follow @circleofsisterhood and @uofsc_circleofsisterhood on Instagram to stay updated with the official philanthropy and the USC chapter as we go on trek!

Venmo uofsc_cofs to donate

 

What Sisterhood Really Means

Mental Health in the Panhellenic Community

By Megan Barbee, Panhellenic Vice President of New Member Development

My best friend once said that in order for people to bloom and experience growth, we Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 5.40.47 PM.pnghave to water their seeds. Watering seeds looks a lot like building each other up, meeting each other where we are and empowering each other to be the best versions of ourselves. This made me question how often we take the time to make sure our own seeds are being tended to, something that is a lot harder to do for ourselves.

It is so easy to see how gardening can be used as an analogy for growth.  We often hear people speak in idioms about “blooming” and “being planted,” but how often do we think about the role of weeds? This summer I have had the opportunity to volunteer at a community garden, and—quite literally—garden. I have noticed that most of what it takes to cultivate a successful garden is a persistent removal of weeds.

The more I began to analyze this, the more I realized that this generally reflects our brains and how we process the problems that occur in both our conscious and subconscious minds. Like weeds, our problems have to be acknowledged and tamed. We cannot let even the smallest things go untended or else they will continue to grow and overtake the garden. Weeds steal the nutrients that we need to produce the flowers and truly bloom.

Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 5.41.10 PM.pngWeeds are an overpowering nuisance, but they are an integral part of the gardening process. We all have different types of weeds, and they never really fully go away. They are a part
of what makes up our garden and holds our soil together. We have to learn that having weeds is NORMAL and OKAY. Accepting this is the beginning, and knowing how to keep them maintained at a healthy level is so important.

Tending to our weeds looks different for everyone. Maybe it means you need to make sure your basic needs are in check: is your body physically in check? Are your physical activity and nutrition levels healthy for you? Are you getting enough sleep? Maybe it means taking more time to do things that make you happy: are you spending time with people who build you up and inspire you? Are you doing things that you enjoy in healthy intervals? Maybe it means you need to see a therapist and talk through issues that are far beyond the surface. It looks different for everyone, but it is so important to note that there is not a fine line between mental health and mental illness. We all have to work to be happy, content and at peace with our own minds.

When I was elected to my position as VP of Membership Development, a new CPA position with a job description that was open to interpretation and creativity, I got to decide what could be implemented into our Panhellenic community to better our members. To some, membership development looks like working on leadership skills or focusing on incentivizing scholarship. To me, this meant focusing on mental health awareness. In order to better all of the other areas of our life, we must focus on and challenge the roots of our negative thoughts and beliefs. This has led to a wonderful partnership between College Panhellenic Association and the USC Counseling Center. Our contacts there have allowed us to create mental health programming that is open to everyone, but focuses on Panhellenic women and meeting their needs. I was overtaken with joy seeing the success of the “pilot” sessions hosted in the spring, and cannot wait for what we will offer in the fall.

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With this new school year approaching, I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunities we have with CPA mental health programming, the 10 free sessions at the USC Counseling Center and generally just monitoring our own and others’ mental health. With everything we do as Panhellenic women, I realize that it can be easy to let our weeds overtake our garden. However, if we intentionally spend time tending to the things that hold us back and attacking our metaphorical weeds at their roots, we can learn to grow and bloom to the best of our ability, and I think that is beautiful.

 

Find more about the USC Counseling Center here

Delta Zeta Dreamin’, Delta Zeta Livin’

By Ansley Hagenburger, Delta Zeta Vice President of New Member Education

The best experiences are ones you always swore you’d never do. You know, the kind that were never what you thought you wanted, but end up being everything you actually needed. That’s how it was for me living in my sorority house. I always said there was no way I could live in one house with over 30 other girls. That is way too much estrogen and way too much screaming, peppy energy.  Little did I know it was far from that assumption, and much better than what I imagined.

Let’s get one thing straight. If nothing else, living in your sorority house is the best just because of its convenience. You don’t have to drive to campus (you’ll just sweat like a gorilla walking up there, but we deal with it). Since we get our meals at the house, there’s no need to put on a bra to get food. You just walk downstairs in all your beauty, whether you just rolled out of bed or came from work. Not to mention the leftovers, which we always have first dibs on! As sad as it is to admit, there were many times that I scavenged around for extra pizza, paninis and anything sweet that was leftover. Shout out to our chefs; they definitely know me on a first name basis.

As cliché as it is, the most significant parts about living in the sorority house are

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the ones you share it with and the memories you make. There were girls that I didn’t know before living in the house, and now, I get to call them some of my best friends. See, when there are endless closets to borrow clothes from, someone always needing their hair done and tons of shoulders to cry on, you become friends pretty quickly. There is always someone to study or watch a movie with, go on a Target run with, or get Cookout milkshakes with. Sure, as someone who needs her alone time, it’s not always easy being surrounded by people who want to hang out and chat. But I don’t regret those moments for the world. From playing Super Mario Bros to late-night chats about life, every memory I have there is cherished.
For someone who was apprehensive about living in their sorority house, boy was I wrong! It’s this experience that has made me feel even more a part of my sorority and truly pushed me out of my comfort zone. No doubt, by the end of the year, everyone was ready to go back to having a room to themselves and some peace and quiet. But, between tearful goodbyes, I think we all wished we had a few more days there. Luckily for me, I don’t have to wait because I get to do it all over again next year! With different people and personalities, it’s bound to be a completely different experience. But I bet it will be just as memorable and just as life changing as the first time.

The Power of Greek Unity at USC: A Guide to the Four Councils and Greek Relations

By Sydney Janes, Panhellenic VP of Programming

For those coming into our Greek community, get ready: together, we are force! We are a power for good and we are filled with change-makers who are ready to positively affect those around us.

Who makes up our community? Great question. We are made up of four of the strongest councils, and we are being led by some of the greatest leaders on campus.

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At South Carolina, the College Panhellenic Association is the subset campus organization that supports 13 National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) chapters on our campus.

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The Interfraternity Council (IFC) oversees 20 USC fraternity chapters.

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The Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) is the umbrella group for our cultural-based organizations, and represents five USC organizations.

 

 

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The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is the umbrella organization for nine fraternities and sororities, all of which are represented at USC.

Why do I think this community is the best? When I say we are a community, I mean it. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders; we support each other whenever possible, and some of us even call each other neighbors. The most important aspect of our community is we understand individual successes allow for communal successes because at the end of the day, we are all Greek.

Since being elected to serve as VP of Programming, I have been on a mission to createScreen Shot 2018-06-25 at 2.30.47 PM.png
events that remind us how fortunate we are to be Greek at the University of South Carolina. Our community is big and our university is bigger, so when we work together, our impact is enormous. Last semester, when I planned Greek Week 2018, a week in April featuring activities centered on unity and fun, the week’s tagline was “Together We Stand”. For the first time ever, we welcomed 13 deserving and purpose-driven student organizations to join us in the tradition. Teams represented, served, and fundraised for the service organizations all week with the hope of being crowned Greek Week Champion! The 13 service organizations we partnered with, as well as their information, can be found at the end of this blog.

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My goal was to unite not only Greeks, but also our campus community! The week was for every person to understand the power of our community with events like MGC cultural food fest and Greek Life Through the Ages, a powerful time when all chapters were encouraged to share their history and traditions in front of the Carolina community. We are fortunate to have many chapters with many members, so we wanted to remind everyone that the heartbeats of our chapters are not just our chapter leaders. It is the university that has welcomed our organizations with open arms. We are fitting into the university, not the other way around.

Personally, the week was one of the biggest highlights of my college career because this community means the world to me. It was an honor to create a week that I hope encouraged people to step out of their comfort zone and, no matter the letters, proudly stand next to each other as teammates and friends. My sisterhood is one of my greatest treasures because it has been my home; my sisters have been pillars for me as I have continually dreamt big. When I think I am crazy, they tell me to dream bigger! My sisterhood is just one of the many organizations that makes this community feel like home to thousands of Carolinians. I want outsiders to know not just about the good we do for others, but the good we do for each other.

I came to the University of South Carolina on a mission. My goal was to be bold and take risks. This community has lit a fire in me and I want others to see why I think we are so special. The Greek community has allowed me to stand out, hone my talents and be my best. No matter where you are in life, find a group of people that pushes you towards success like this community has done for me. College is a time to find YOUR passions and YOUR purpose. No matter where you go or what letters you wear, go with endurance because once you find your purpose, you won’t be able to stop.

Gamecock Reach, http://www.gamecockreach.org/

Carolina Homelessness Outreach, https://www.facebook.com/usccho/

Together We Rise, https://www.togetherwerise.org

Students Helping Honduras, http://shhkids.org

International Justice Mission, https://www.ijm.org

Dream Outside the Box, http://dreamoutsidethebox.org

Student United Way, https://www.unitedway.org/get-involved/groups/student

FIMRC, https://www.fimrc.org

Active Minds, https://www.activeminds.org

Timmy Global Health, https://timmyglobalhealth.org

Waverly After School, http://web.sa.sc.edu/waverlycenter/Volunteers.html

Gamecocks Aiding Refugees, https://www.facebook.com/uscgarc/

Cocky’s Canine PAALS, https://paals.org/programs/

 

5 Things you Wouldn’t Expect about Sorority Life at University of South Carolina

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Philanthropy is SO important

We don’t mess around when it comes to philanthropy. Most chapters raise tens of thousands of dollars with bi-annual events like male pageants, paint wars, wing eating contests, lip sync battles, 5Ks and more! We fundraise year-round with percent nights, when a restaurant donates a percentage of a day’s profits to a chapter’s philanthropy. We send hundreds of women from the Panhellenic community to these events to increase the percent of revenue donated towards the cause! Each chapter is extremely passionate about their cause and happy to talk about how their philanthropy touches lives. We work all year to make sure we do our part to support and bring awareness to our cause.

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Our chapters love each other

What do you normally see in movies about Greek life? Fighting between chapters? Catty looks towards women wearing other letters? Competition to hang out with frats? (See the next point about the whole frat thing!) Spoiler alert: NONE of this is true!!! Our 13 chapters are equally hardworking, driven, confident and talented. There is no “top tier” or “bottom tier” chapter at our school. We support each other by attending each other’s philanthropy events, applauding each other’s accomplishments, sending baked goods to each other’s houses during exam week and raising funds for our Panhellenic philanthropy, Circle of Sisterhood. Some of your best friends will be in other chapters. We learn from each other and grow together as one Panhellenic sisterhood.

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Fraternity Men Aren’t a Given in the Sorority Experience

This is another thing the movies get wrong. At USC, fraternities and sororities don’t exclusively “hang out.” Some chapters pair up for philanthropy events if they support the same philanthropy to increase the amount of money they can raise. During Greek Week and homecoming, Panhellenic sororities are paired with both fraternity men and sorority women from the Interfraternity Conference, National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council. Fraternity men don’t have to be a part of the sorority experience. The most exposure you’ll have to fraternity men is on your own individual terms! You’ll make friends with members of fraternities and sororities across all four councils. At USC, sorority life is what you make of it. You can talk to and hang out with whoever you want!

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Sometimes, you’ll get frustrated

It’s important to be honest about the commitment level required to be a Panhellenic woman and a good sister. Between philanthropy events, functions, weekly chapter meetings, sisterhood events, intramurals and more, your calendar will be full of amazing memories! …But what about homework? Tests? Dance Marathon? The school newspaper? Cleaning your apartment?!?!….. It’s important to practice good time management and stay on top of your responsibilities. It’s easy to take on too much and be faced with having to scale back later on in the year. Instead of dropping an activity or flaking on an event, make sure you know what you’re getting into before you make a commitment.

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You get a leg up

Being a part of a sorority at USC means access to THOUSANDS of connections, leadership positions and opportunities for personal and professional growth. The nature of being part of a social sorority makes it easy to become friends with women from so many backgrounds and areas of talent. Your sisters will go on to be in the top of their field, giving you a place to go for help, advice or even an internship or job! Not to mention, studying is so much easier when you can ask your sisters in the same major for help. You can sharpen your skills further by running for a leadership position in your chapter. Are you a master photographer? Run for photography chair! Do you love event planning? Help plan sisterhood events on a committee! There are so many places where your skills will be needed in your chapter – these opportunities are great for a resume and give you experience in the real world!

Ok, time to break the 4th wall here and tell you how true this really is. As VP of Public Relations for Panhellenic, my experience running social media, designing marketing materials, writing and more has been invaluable. When I interviewed for PR internships, my work for Panhellenic set me apart from others and I ended up as a PR Manager for a technology company. Thanks to my connections and leadership experience in the Panhellenic community, I landed an amazing internship that gives me a leg up in my efforts to break into PR!

 

There are so many ways that sorority life at USC breaks stigmas about Greeks. Sign up for recruitment here and don’t forget to follow our social media for more info and tips!

Instagram: @uofscpanhellenic

Twitter: @USC_Panhellenic

Facebook: University of South Carolina College Panhellenic Association

Pinterest: USC College Panhellenic Association

 

A Letter From Your Pi Chis

Written by KB

Dear PNMs,

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First thing, welcome to Carolina!! We are so excited for your start your journey at USC and even more excited that you have chosen to start by going through sorority recruitment. I’m sure you’ve got a million questions that are running through your mind. They’re probably along the lines of: What am I getting myself into? What is it going to be like? Are the girls really going to be screaming at me like the videos that I’ve seen on YouTube? Hopefully, I can give you an insight into what you’re about to go through and get you pumped for recruitment!

When you come to orientation, you will be greeted by two VERY excited sorority women, probably with huge smiles on their faces and dancing around- these are your Pi Chis. For the next two weeks, they will be your guides, your mentors, your best friends, your confidants, and anything else that you need. We have given up our letters so that we can help you find your home. That’s a term you’ll hear a lot during recruitment, “finding your home.” When you join a sorority, you’re not just joining a group of girls who do community service projects or attend functions. You’re finding the place that you feel most comfortable, the place where you can go to on your worst days and find a friend, and the place that holds all your sisters. Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 2.18.16 PM.png

Trust this process. At times, you’re going to question why you’re here. The days can be long, Columbia will be hot (it’s not called famously hot for nothing), and you’re going to have a lot of emotions as you decide which chapters you would like to go back to. But trust us, the process works and there’s no better feeling than running to your new sisters on Bid Day (the day where you find out which chapter you recieved- don’t worry, you’ll learn all the lingo soon!) There are so important things we want you to know about before you take on this process and I hope that you keep this in mind when you join us in Columbia:

  1. BE YOU. The girls in the chapters genuinely want to get to know you and what makes you special.
  2. Wear what makes YOU comfortable.
  3. It’s okay if you’re sweating, if your hair is out of place, or if your voice is starting to fade. It’s all part of recruitment and the girls just want to talk to you.
  4. Trust your gut and stay true to yourself. This is so important to remember!
  5. There will be lots of cheering- don’t be scared. You’ll get used to it very soon!
  6. Use your Pi Chis! They are such a resource for you and are so excited for to help you find your home. Text them day or night and they will be there for you.
  7. HAVE FUN! I don’t think this one needs an explanation.

 

Recruitment is right around the corner and we cannot wait to welcome you home to Carolina! When you see a group of girls cheering, dancing, and covered with paint and glitter- you’ve found the Pi Chis!

See you at orientation!

Love, Your Pi Chis