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!

mizzouaphi blog: fast founders facts

In October 1872, the ten female students at Syracuse University gathered to discuss the possibility of creating a club for, as Clara wrote 40 years later, “… a circle of sympathetic friends whom we would know personally. We had as our aim the mutual improvement of each other, ever trying to do our best in college work, always keeping a high ideal before us. … We were to be ever loyal to one another, in joys or sorrows, success or failure, and ever extend a helping hand to our sisters who needed our aid; truly we planned to be a ‘Union hand in hand.'”

Almost 140 years later, Alpha Phi has more than 145 chapters across the U.S. and Canada. We Alpha Phis use Founders’ Day to look back at the women that initially formed our sisterhood so that we may hope to live up to the ideals and examples they set.

Fast Founders Facts

In honor of Founders’ Day, today, October 10, 2011, here are a few facts about our Founding 10 from Syracuse University:

  • Clara Wheeler Baker Burdette
    Clara lived the longest, most active life of our founders. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, the writer, lecturer, businesswoman and philanthropist lived to the age of 98.

  • Hattie Chidester Lukens
    Hattie completed her B.S. in 1875 and her M.S. in 1879, teaching higher mathematics in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New York, and Iowa.

Read the full entry at mizzouaphi.com!

mizzouaphi blog: meet Kellye Crockett

While I sometimes struggle for general topics about my sorority at Mizzou, I knew exactly who I wanted to profile when Homecoming season approached this year. Kellye and I were sisters in the truest sense, confiding our deepest problems and working together on Tour Team, the student recruitment group on campus.

Crockett’s fearless approach to life always inspired me, and we were all so proud of her when she was nominated to Homecoming Court our senior year. Her life is just as impressive almost 20 years later, and she continues to live to the beat of her own drum, even if her three kids may hold it from time to time.

Fabulous Alum of the Month: Kellye Crockett

Kellye Crockett, ’93, has a hard time picking just one thing to focus on as her favorite memory of being an Alpha Phi at Mizzou. “I loved serenades, mystery dates, shopping at the A Phi mall (trying on everyone’s clothes to find the perfect date outfit), walking down the hallways with my guitar to play the Gambler [the only song she knew how to play]…”

The list is extensive, and the memories are filled with friends that she is still in contact with today, nearly 20 years after she pledged. The people who have stood by her throughout the years, who know her darkest secrets and her happiest times, who know her the best, are Alpha Phis. She admits, “I had no idea what I was getting when I pledged Alpha Phi. Whatever your life may hold, it will always hold Alpha Phi.”

Her most humbling moment was her senior year, when she was chosen for the 1996 Homecoming Court by her fellow Phis. Inspired by her pageant past, she says she “worked hard to deserve the honor of being nominated, the honor of representing both her university and her sorority.” It is something she does to this day, often sharing her pride as an MU alum, and her pride to be an Alpha Phi.

Read the full entry at mizzouaphi.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!