“Looking from the outside in, you can never understand it. Standing on the outside looking out, you can never explain it.”
How many sorority women have stated that about their sorority experience, unable to put into words what sorority life means to them? Wanting to so desperately explain how it is different it is from the stereotypes that popular culture displays? I know I have been there before. My sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, keeps a huge place in my heart, and it always will. On the flip side, I know many people who have been confused about the strange Greek letters on shirts, the matching random shirts, the photo poses, endearments like “big” and “little,” and so much more. I was there once, too.
I had the unique experience of getting to be a Founder for RMU’s chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon. The chapter was dormant since the ‘90s, and, in 2012, they were invited back to Robert Morris’s campus. One of my best friends from high school was a Deepher at another campus and encouraged me to check out recruitment. So I did, and instantly felt a connection that I hadn’t known before. I was so nervous throughout the recruitment processed and so thrilled when I received a bid. I didn’t know really any of the girls, but it didn’t matter. It was a new opportunity.
Purple and gold and unicorns abound, I didn’t know what to expect. Not only did we need to go through our new members process, but we also had to set the entire chapter up. We spent two nights a week together learning about sorority structure and Delta Phi Epsilon values. It was a lot at times, but it came in my life at a very important time. I joined my sorority in the beginning of my depression, which was crippling at this point. Joining the sorority sparked something in me I didn’t know that I still had. Other than classes and work, it was the only thing I could get out of bed for. It was the only thing I wanted to get out of bed for.
Before I knew it, I had made amazing friends for life, sisters that I had never had. Spending all that time together as new members and founders created an even stronger bond than I had anticipated, and a unique one for us. I had one sister put together a surprise birthday dinner for me, I remember how sweet the gesture was and how happy it made me in a time I was anything but. Two of my sisters became roommates. One became my best friend for life. There were so many moments with each of them, memories with all. Even sitting here now, there are so many laugh and smiles coming to mind. It was the best choice I made in college. I joke that if Robert Morris was my Hogwarts, then DPhiE is my Gryffindor. I don’t joke that I don’t know how I would have gotten through the semester if I hadn’t joined DPhiE. In some senses, it was life saving.
There’s so much more to it. Our motto, esse quam videri, means to be, rather than to seem to be. Our values are justice, sisterhood, and love. Not having biological sisters, I didn’t know sisterhood until I joined. But I try to live these in different aspects of my life every day. My sorority has made a significant impact on my life.
There were other experiences to that the sorority afforded me that I couldn’t have had anywhere else. Our philanthropy work also changed my perspective on many things in life. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) were the organizations that we worked with. I met many people impacted by the diseases we were raising money for. I learned I had friends living with the diseases. I loved the events we planned, and it was great knowing that we were able to try and make a difference. It’ll be quite a day when we learn there’s a cure. I can’t imagine how much it’ll mean to me, and before DPhiE, I didn’t even know what cystic fibrosis really was. Caring about these causes doesn’t change once you graduate, either. Those experiences stay with you.
You also start to get close with members of other organizations, and you support their causes too. No matter what the letter, we’re all Greek together as the saying goes. We might be competitive during Greek Week, but we do all support each other and our events. I also found many great friends in other organizations.
Being a Founder of DPhiE allowed me to leave my mark on the university. But my favorite part of being a founder is my family tree. I have two “little” sisters, two grandlittles, three great-grandlittles, one great-great-grandlittle, and one great-great-great-grand little. When I graduated, it was just me, my two littles, and a grandlittle. And it is so cool to see how much we’ve gone, and how they can trace their family tree back to me. These girls are truly family to me, some of them I talk to at least once a week. With all of them, it’s just like picking up where we left off. I am also lucky to have become close with some of the girls who joined after I graduated; I can’t have too many sisters or bows (our family name)!
Sisters are there for you. They were the first ones I cried to when I found out my dad had to have open heart surgery again. When I found out I had been accepted to my Master’s program, they were among the first to know. They are the ones to laugh with you and pick you up when you fall. I always have a sister I can go to. One memory can set off a hundred more. DPhiE has encouraged my professional growth too; I received a scholarship for my Master’s degree. I remember tearing up with pride when I learned my grandlittle had received an award at our international convention (this was two years after I graduated). You spend so much time with these women, you share experiences that you will only share with a select group of women. Only so many women can relate to what you have experienced.
I understand that it’s not for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. I can’t explain why it is for someone or it isn’t. I just know how it was for me. It was something I needed. It made such a difference in my life and was a positive experience for me. It gave me hope when I didn’t have any, and I found lifelong friends and sisterhood. I can’t help but smile when I think of DPhiE and my precious unicorns. Gryffindor, for the brave at heart. Delta Phi Epsilon, justice, sisterhood and love.
Peace and love,