mizzou atlanta: meet courtney manning

Every once in a while, I get to indulge my inner Tiger and celebrate both my alma mater and its fantastic students. As a member of the board for my university’s alumni chapter here in Atlanta (I launched and maintain the website for Mizzou Atlanta), I got to be a part of selecting our scholarship winners for this fall and posting their profiles on our website.

I interviewed our main scholarship winner, Courtney, who received $1,000 a year for four years. Not only was she impressive on paper, but despite our 20+ difference in ages, we seemed to have similar interests. The most noticeable was her interest in studying in London, which was where I studied in 1994. I immediately put her in touch with a couple of fellow program alums, one closer to my age and one closer to hers. (I’m also crossing my fingers that her father Joe isn’t terribly upset that I’ve encouraged this detour from Columbia for a semester.)

It’s interactions like this that make me proud to be a graduate of the University of Missouri, and proud to be involved with the university. I wouldn’t be who I am today without experiences like my sorority and my months in London, both of which I owe to Mizzou. It’s a big reason I am happy to give back and help others have the same experience on campus.

Read about Courtney and our other scholarship winner, Amanda, at mizzouatlanta.com!

mizzou atlanta website is launched!

I am happy to announce that mizzouatlanta.com is now online!

When I moved to Atlanta from New York (where I worked on mizzounyc.com for three years), the first thing I did was search for the local Mizzou alumni chapter’s website… which did not exist. Because our move coincided with Mizzou’s move to the SEC, our alumni association has unsurprisingly wanted a stronger presence here in Atlanta, and I was more than happy to join the team of volunteers to help make that happen.

Within the last year, we’ve gone from a barebones existence to Capstone status, an achievement that will allow us to give out several scholarships and receive a decent funding from the alumni association, all of which will allow us to continue to grow. I’m proud to say that I began working with Alumni Spaces, the team behind the site’s design, back when they formed the company in New York just as we were leaving in 2011. I gave them feedback on their original layouts and promised to contact them should I be able to serve the Atlanta chapter as Secretary. A year later, they were helping us build our site; a few months after that, they signed a contract with the MAA to work on all Mizzou alum sites. I’m so proud to have known them throughout this entire process, and glad that they were able to help us build our own site.

mizzouaphi blog: meet April Diaz de Leon

I continue to be amazed by the next generation that’s been attending my alma mater, Mizzou, and, in particular, the women that have been active members at my sorority, Alpha Phi. It had been suggested a few months ago that I profile a recent alum that had published a children’s book, and I agreed that we should promote it. And then I looked her up. She’s 23. And self-published. And is working on 2 more books.

Clearly I haven’t accomplished enough. Must get to work.

Fabulous Alum of the Month: April Diaz de Leon

April Diaz de Leon ’06 may be young for a published author (she’s only 23), but she’s certainly accomplished. She finished dual degrees in Strategic Communications (through the J-School) and Graphic Design (through A&S) in December 2010 while remaining active at the house doing skits for Homecoming and Greek Week. In addition, she spent a lot of time at Mizzou’s Craft Studio, where she took and taught various classes. As she remembers it, “It was the perfect space to experiment with different techniques outside of the classroom. (And it kept my ‘art messes’ out of the Annex living room.)”

Her book, If You Live Here, came about as a project for her Senior Show at the art department at MU. After some positive feedback at the showcase, she submitted it to several large publishers… who told her that she needed to be a published author to be considered for publication. While most people might give up there, it drove April to publish it on her own through Author House, a self-publishing company based in Indiana.

Read the full entry at mizzouaphi.com!

mizzouaphi blog: the Griffiths Leadership Society

While we lived in the New York area, I became very involved with the local Mizzou alumni chapter. This led to a dinner in Manhattan with, among other people, the chancellor at MU, Brady Deaton, and his impressive wife, Anne Deaton.

It was an enjoyable evening, discussing both Mizzou topics and the Deatons’ travels around the world (they met on a missionary trip to Africa). Those of us from the chapter told them a little about both our professional lives, as well as what we contributed to the New York chapter, and I had a nice conversation on the side with Anne about her speech at the Alpha Phi Centennial in 2010.

A few weeks later, I received an invitation to join the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women, a somewhat exclusive mentoring and networking subgroup of the Mizzou Alumni Association. Extremely flattered, I sent in the paperwork and am preparing to attend my first conference in April 2012, which made the email later that month to post this entry about other Alpha Phis in the prestigious group quite apropos.

Phis Join Other Women From Mizzou
at the Griffiths Society Conference in Columbia

In 2005, the Mizzou Alumni Association created the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women, a subgroup of the MAA devoted to lifelong learning, leadership development and mentoring. Membership is open to both current students and alumnae, and each student member is paired with an alum that shares a common bond, whether it’s a common field of business, a shared hometown, or even a familiar need to balance work and life.

In October, younger members like new alum Kelsey Kotur ’07 and current Mizzou student Sydney Ferleger ’09 got to mingle with and learn from older alumnae like Val Lawlor ’71 and Susan Chaffin Matthews ’69 at the Griffiths Society Fall Conference. The two-day session encouraged mentees and mentors to bond at breakfasts and dinners while organizing presentations on such topics as breaking the glass ceiling, women in science and politics, and establishing yourself as a brand.

Read the full entry at mizzouaphi.com!

mizzouaphi blog: meet sisters Pat Jones Stevens and Marcia Jones Lane

Last year, I had the immense pleasure of going back to my alma mater to celebrate my sorority’s 100th anniversary at the University of Missouri. Over 600 Alpha Phis, past and present, converged on the quad for a celebratory photo before our celebratory gala.

A year later, I was able to commemorate the occasion by interviewing the two (both familial and sorority) sisters that chaired the event. Pat and Marcia sent over 3 pages of information each, reminiscing about their days on campus and the joys and trials of planning the Centennial. If only all interviewees were so gracious about their replies…

Fabulous Alums of the Month: Pat Jones Stevens and Marcia Jones Lane

It’s hard to believe that it has been over a year since many of us gathered back on campus to celebrate Alpha Phi and her 100 years on campus at Mizzou. As co-chairs, sisters Pat Jones Stevens ’66 and Marcia Jones Lane ’72 were instrumental in organizing an event worthy of the over 600 women that attended.

Pat remembers her days as an Alpha Phi fondly. She describes a house where everyone was close, playing cards during weekday evenings, singing around the grand piano, and foraging for midnight snacks in the kitchen. Her collegiate days were much stricter than today; the house mother, Mom Wharton, was a Southern lady with definite views on proper behavior. She had rules on everything from wearing heels and gloves to a football game, to table manners, to when and where you could kiss your boyfriend, as Pat found out (too late) — “I got called on the carpet for touchdown kisses at a game!”

Read the full entry at mizzouaphi.com!

mizzounyc.com: interview with Danielle Kass

I’ve posted our fall newsletter on mizzounyc.com, and as part of the newsletter, I got to speak with a current student at the University of Missouri. A native New Yorker, Danielle had been awarded a scholarship from our local alumni chapter and had left NY behind for the wilds of Missouri in pursuit of a journalism degree.

As one who’s quite proud to admit where she was educated, it’s always great to see the next generation of students striving for excellence. As a freshman, Danielle had already published almost 30 stories in the student newspaper (which is quite competitive, given the strength of the journalism school at Mizzou) and was looking forward to traveling abroad for a semester and studying Russian. Clearly, she won’t be taking the easy road to her degree; I think our scholarship for her was well-deserved.

Sophomore Danielle Kass:
A New York girl in love with Mizzou

The recipient of the 2010 MizzouNYC scholarship seems to be doing well at our home campus. When asked how her first year as a Tiger went, she replies, “My first year at Mizzou was AMAZING.” She says the campus is beautiful and the community at her dorm, Mark Twain, made her feel at home immediately. She lucked out with mostly smaller class numbers, making it easy for her to get to know her professors and embrace their challenges, turning to new classmates and friends to work through everything.

Danielle got involved pretty quickly in activities. She’s already published 28 articles and 4 blog posts as a staff writer for The Maneater. And she’s looking forward to being a facilitator for the You in Mizzou program, which holds discussions promoting diversity on campus.

Danielle is planning to double major in Russian and journalism, concentrating on Strategic Communications. She’s eager to continue her studies in Russian as she began learning the language in high school and loved it. She’s also both excited and nervous about her upcoming pre-journalism classes, J2100 honors (cross-culturalism) and J2000 (news). She says, “The two I’m taking are really challenging, but I think they’re going to be really rewarding.” [The Journalism School now requires 12-13 hours of pre-journalism classes by the end of your sophomore year.] Outside of being accepted to the J-School, Danielle hasn’t set too many long-term goals, but she definitely wants to study abroad, most likely in London.

Read Danielle’s full profile at mizzounyc.com!

mizzouaphi blog: meet Sarah Flagg

Once a month, I profile alumni from my sorority chapter at the University of Missouri for their blog. When I needed a recent grad about whom to write, I knew Sarah would be perfect: a recent photojournalism major, she was working for a local news website in my hometown in Missouri.

I had first met Sarah when she did an internship here in New York last summer. We chatted a lot online, about living in New York and its differences from the Midwest, and I was happy for her that she found a position in her field so soon after graduation. It was a pleasure to catch up with her a year later and to hear what has been happening to her since she left the east coast.

Fabulous Alum of the Month: Sarah Flagg

Sarah Flagg ’06 may have graduated last year with degrees in photojournalism and political science, but she’s amazed at how much the campus and Alpha Phi house have changed since she left. She’s happy to see the sorority continue to thrive and improve, like the changes made to the Alpha Phi Honors Lodge this summer, but every visit makes her nostalgic for her own recent days on campus.

Sarah loved tailgating for Mizzou football games, getting ready at the Phi house with her sisters. She reminisces about Sunday morning post-mortems over the dining room table, rehashing whatever happened the night before. She giggles, “Most of the time, we could barely eat because we were laughing so hard.” Being an Alpha Phi and living in the house, spending quality time with her sisters, made Mizzou feel like home.

After graduating last May, Sarah had the chance to intern at Children’s PressLine in New York, a non-profit organization with the New York Daily News. The organization teaches children how to report and write about issues that affect them; as the Photography Coordinator Intern, Sarah taught a small group of kids, ranging from 8 to 18, the ethics of reporting, how to compose a photo, and the mechanics of taking a picture. She’s proud to say that “by the end of the summer, they were taking great photos that told a story.”

Read the full entry at MizzouAPhi.com!

mizzouaphi blog: boom, boom, ain’t it great to be a phi?

I have always been a performer. While my blog header is “reader, thinker, writer,” it might as well be “dancer, pianist, singer, actor.” I’ve always wished I could be on the stage, and was, in college and a little afterwards. I was happy that when I was in college, my sorority gave me the chance to sing quite a bit, during recruitment and initiation or at serenades.

It was an honor, then, to be invited to sing when we celebrated Alpha Phi’s 100th anniversary on the campus at the University of Missouri. There had been some rough times at Omicron after I left, and despite the hardships, they persevered and our chapter survived, unlike many others that are no longer on campus. The Centennial celebration included a celebration of song at A Phi throughout the decades, and with recruitment approaching, we thought it fit to show other Phis what a great song tradition Omicron has.

Boom, Boom, ain’t it great to be A Phi?

Songs have always been a large part of sorority life. As the collegiates prepare for formal recruitment, we wanted to take a look back at some of the memories Omicron alums have of the songs of Alpha Phi.

Claire Rittendale Devoto ’70 was a songleader in the era of folk songs. She says that “singing together brought our sisters together; even those who didn’t care for singing always participated in some way.” She loved the songs from initiation and still sings them to her grandchildren, just as she did with her own children.

Sidewalk songs grew in importance in the 1980s. Alpha Phis would spill out of the house, singing popular chants and songs to help potential members learn about the house and its history. Do you remember this one?

Read the full entry at MizzouAPhi.com!

mizzouaphi blog: meet Jessica Josendale

As a sorority girl, I quickly realized that your house or chapter needs constant attention. Despite the hoopla surrounding recruitment — and yes, getting new members was vital — those new members, as well as the existing ones, had to continue to be as happy to be an Alpha Phi as the day they accepted their bid to become a member.

This was why I was so committed to what they call “internal marketing,” or marketing to your members. As a senior, I created sisterhood events, published a bimonthly newsletter reminding everyone of our wonderful members, and tried to keep all members aware of why we had joined the house in the first place. (This is part of my job at PTPN today, creating publications and blog entries to remind dues-paying members what they gain as part of our network.)

So I’m happy to continue to show Alpha Phis, both current students at Mizzou and alumnae, what Alpha Phis from our chapter have been doing after graduation, how their time as an Alpha Phi affected who they are 5, 10, even 20 years after graduation. As Jessica points out, if you can rush a girl that doesn’t want to talk during recruitment, you’ll do great in any face-to-face interview.

Fabulous Alum of the Month: Jessica Josendale

Jessica Josendale, ’00, beams with all of the happy memories of her days as an Alpha Phi at Mizzou — studying at Memorial Union, living in the house her sophomore and junior years, Harpo’s on Thursday nights — but her favorite memory is winning Greek Week in 2004, her senior year. She says, “I still remember cheering at the steps of Jesse Hall. Our chapter had come SO far in the four years I had been there and I couldn’t have been more proud.”

Sisterhood became a family affair when her sister, Cathy, joined Alpha Phi in 2006. Jessica continued to participate in chapter events like recruitment and Mom’s and Dad’s Weekend, even though she had graduated and started her career in PR and advertising. While she grew up in Iowa, she thinks of Columbia, Missouri as her hometown, since she has spent more time in Columbia than in any other place. Plus, she notes, with two parents that are active Mizzou alumni, “Mizzou is more to all of us than just where we went to college. I still take pride in seeing the house at 906 S. Providence every time I drive by.”

Read the full entry at MizzouAPhi.com!

mizzouaphi blog: the forget me not fund

I have a confession to make. I’m a sorority girl. Not the drunken, passive, I-joined-so-I-always-had-a-party-to-go-to sorority girl. The kind that wanted to have a true sisterhood of women, the kind that ended up finding friends for life, i.e., even 15 years after graduating from college.

Going back to my campus last fall and seeing so many old friends rekindled friendships that I’ve been nurturing on Facebook and brought me back to the cameraderie of our college years. You’re reminded frequently as a student that you’re an Alpha Phi for life. Not just those 4 years.

One thing I’ve always liked about our philanthropy, the Alpha Phi Foundation, is that it includes a special fund for sisters in need, the Forget Me Not Fund. If you hit difficult times — the sudden death of a parent or spouse, a difficult and expensive treatment for illness, a natural disaster — you can apply to the fund for a one-time grant. Because Alpha Phi, and your sisters, will always be there for you, as a collegiate or an alum. I’ve always like that part of our Foundation, and when I found out that there’s been so much demands for grants that they ran out of funds last year, I offered to help promote the fund to my fellow Phis through the latest blog I’ve agreed to write for, the Mizzou A Phi blog.

The Forget Me Not Fund

We get bombarded by a lot of requests for donations these days. The phone rings with requests from a variety of organizations, and even within Alpha Phi, there are requests for helping Omicron, paying your International dues, and donating to the Alpha Phi Foundation. So why should this request — to donate to the Forget Me Not Fund — be any different?

Read the full entry at MizzouAPhi.com!