My senior year of high school I held a leadership position in all of the clubs and organizations I was a part of, so finding leadership opportunities in college was really important. Going through recruitment as a freshman, I really looked for an organization that would allow for me to pursue leadership roles that genuinely interested me. As I head into my senior year at Clemson and final year as a collegiate member of Gamma Phi, I have had so many different chances to pursue this passion.
Once I realized that New Member Educator (aka Pledge Mom) was a position in the chapter I knew that it was something I was very interested in. I was elected to be Pledge Mom starting in the second semester of my sophomore year and worked with the best group of 10 COB girls. It was definitely a stressful job, but so worth it to see all of them get initiated and continue to grow as Gamma Phis. Then in the fall I was entering my hardest semester of college and had 95 new members asking me questions about all sorts of things. I was constantly stressed and doing 10 million things at once, but it was so worth it because I knew that my job would directly impact each and every one of the new members. I really did feel like a mom; I gave rides, I became a therapist, I helped them make their spring schedules and I watched each of them find their place within the pledge class and the chapter. Because of these interactions, I fell in love with being pledge mom all over and remembered why I had wanted to be a leader within Gamma Phi.
After such an eventful fall semester I decided that I could handle the pressure and demands of a larger position and decided to run for Executive Board as Education Vice President. I had had an inside look into what the EVP’s responsibilities were when I was New Member Ed. I have been EVP since last spring, and while it comes with its own set of challenges, it has been one of the best things I have done as a Gamma Phi. I get to be on exec with my bestie since bid day, Kelly, and I have grown so close to all of the other members of exec. We each bring something different to the table that allows us to do our job to the best of our ability. Jayme and her Google calendar make sure everyone knows what’s going on and when. Ashton’s passion pushes all of us to remember the bigger picture of our roles. Audrey’s creativity allows all of us to deal with any curve balls that come our way. Gwyn steps up in stressful situations and gets the job done. Liv’s sass and sense of humor keep everyone laughing. Kelly’s ability to listen makes her the best person to vent to. And Erica’s support and guidance as our advisor keeps all of us sane.
I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to hold a leadership position for the last two years because it has made my Gamma Phi experience all that I hoped it would be. I have been able to grow so much as a leader through all of the relationships, meetings and conventions I have attended. I was lucky enough to know exactly which roles I wanted to hold but there are so many different departments and committees within the chapter that anyone could find a leadership role for their interests. Serving as a leader has been an honor and something that I will remember forever. I’m so grateful for all of the support my sisters have given me, all of the chances Epsilon Theta offers and all of the memories I’ve been able to create as New Member Ed and EVP.
Sometimes I catch myself explaining Gamma Phi to others as the “nontraditional sorority experience” as if there’s supposed to be a specific way a sorority should be. Sorority life, especially at southern schools, comes with a lot of stereotypes and can come across as overwhelming, which in turn prevents a lot of amazing, unique women from reaching their own sisterhood. I was the same way as a freshman! I had many loose ideas of what sisterhood is, which in my head included lots of glitter, Lily Pulitzer letter shirts, and an obscure idea of the “big/little process.” This initially deterred me away from the sorority experience as a whole, especially when surrounded by girls who have been preparing for recruitment since they were younger. However after joining Gamma Phi, I realized there was way more to a sisterhood than what I had seen on social media. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by girls passionate about all sorts of hobbies. Wanna go hiking? Rollerskating? Or maybe just binge-watching horrible Netflix rom-coms… there’s always a sister down for the ride.
Three sisters in particular, Emma, Madeline, and Brianna, have shown me how unique Gamma Phi girls are. Emma and I met during the big/little process last fall after silently stalking each others’ Instagrams for the whole semester. On our first (of many) Moe’s dates, I remember laughing so hard I almost missed the last bus home! I got so lucky to have this little ball of energy as my little, and can always count on her to brighten my day.
Nobody else but Madeline would be equally excited to drive 25 minutes to go to a chain restaurant with me while blasting ‘4 Non Blondes’ in the car. And then was equally as excited to sit in the parking lot after one intense food coma. She is always down for an adventure, no matter how strange or far we’re going. Having a true, real friend like Madeline has helped me become more authentic within the sisterhood.
Gamma Phi has also acted as a creative outlet for me, especially being surrounded by other artistic sisters. I can say wholeheartedly that Brianna, our homecoming chair last year, is one of the most artistically talented people I know. Seeing her become so enthralled with designing and creating such a massive piece of art made me feel that much more at home. On the first night we properly hung out for the first time, I remember us saying how it was crazy we never knew how much we had in common. At the end of the day, I’m constantly learning new things about my sisters. Gamma Phi is no cookie-cutter mold focused on how you look, but rather a sisterhood focused on sharing your strengths and meeting a diverse group of young women.
When I graduated high school, I had no idea what I was going to do. I think I changed majors about five times before I even registered for classes. I couldn’t decide where I wanted to go--I knew I wanted to be near my family, but none of the schools around Seattle seemed like the right school for me. So I settled for spending my freshman year of college at a small liberal arts school about 45 minutes from my parents’ house.
I like to say that school is the polar opposite of Clemson. This school had no football team, a distinct lack of school spirit, lots of unfriendly people, and no Greek life. But it was a very typically Pacific Northwest type of school, and if you know me you know that’s basically my whole personality. No matter how much time I spent doing homework in the very indie on-campus coffee shop, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t the Perfect Fit I had been dreaming of. When it came down to it, I wanted to go to a big school with a good football team and Greek life. I knew I couldn’t get that in Washington, because the University of Washington was really hard to get into and Washington State University was six hours away. So I felt like I had to settle.
Halfway through my freshman year, my parents started seriously considering moving to Charleston. I immediately thought of transferring to Clemson. My dad got a job lined up and I applied to Clemson. It was the only school I applied to. I had all my eggs in one basket. I remember checking Clemson’s Twitter page to see that they had sent out the acceptance letters one weekend while I was home. I was not expecting to receive my acceptance letter that day. I think my neighbor has security footage of me crying in joy and relief next to my mailbox.
I registered for recruitment as soon as I could, which ended up being a couple days after I moved to Charleston. I was excited but also nervous. I’d heard horror stories about sororities in the south being super intense and super crazy and super hardcore. Greek life in Washington state isn’t very widespread--if a school has sororities, it probably doesn’t have more than two or three. So formal recruitment was quite the culture shock to me! I was hoping to meet at least one girl from Seattle or at least from the west coast. I think that’s one of the things that originally made Gamma Phi stand out to me--the recruitment decorations included a map with pins in all the cities the sisters were from, and there was a pin in Washington state.
It’s the corniest thing and I know everybody says it, but Gamma Phi really has given me a home away from home. I mean that somewhat literally--Rebecca is the first girl I made friends with and now we’re roommates. My big, Kayley, lets me hang out with her cats when I miss my own. Miranda, my twin, is the only person I trust to keep up with me on the dance floor at all the functions. It really does feel like one big sisterhood. It took me a little while, but I finally found my Perfect Fit.
College seemed insurmountable to me at first. I was an out-of-state freshman coming to Clemson with no close friends from my high school. Even though I was in the same shoes as so many other people, I somehow seemed to convince myself I was the only one experiencing this struggle. After moving in, I was thrown into recruitment with zero expectations or previous knowledge about Clemson sorority life, and I had no idea that I was about to make one of the best decisions of my life in a couple days.
Over the next week, I had really loud conversations with what seemed like 100 different girls, and I’ll be honest, trying to figure out where I fit in (if I actually did fit in to one of these sororities) was exhausting and difficult. However, Gamma Phi was the one sorority that I always came back to, and I always felt loved and cherished by the girls I met in that room. During preference round, I took a moment to look around the Gamma Phi room and I told myself, “These are the girls I could see being my best friends.”
That statement could not have been truer. As a new member of Gamma Phi, I have met some of the most genuine, caring, hilarious girls who will have each others’ backs no matter what. In addition to forming these friendships, I’ve had the best time taking on a leadership position in 2020 as Recording Secretary. Giving back to Gamma Phi as an officer is one of the reasons why I love this sorority so much. We serve each other as well as the community around us, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of that.
Although freshman year comes with its own set of new experiences and change, Gamma Phi has been nothing short of true and constant for me, and for that I’m so incredibly grateful. I can’t believe how much I’ve come to love this sorority given the fact that I’ve only been a Gamma Phi for less than a year, but that just goes to show how at home I feel with these girls. Very soon I’ll be living on the hall with one of my good friends, Katherine (!!), and I couldn’t be more excited.
Bring it on, sophomore year.
Spring semester of Sophomore year at Clemson I went through a lot of personal issues and stopped doing many of the things that I once loved. I had a hard time finding ways to pursue my passions and felt small at a school with thousands of other people. I become really lost with myself and the things that made me happy, and while this caused me to miss out on a lot of the sorority functions and events, I never really felt alone or left out. Whenever I would go to a meeting or event for Gamma Phi I would talk to different sisters and it would be like I didn’t miss anything at all. I could go without seeing them for a month but still feel at home the next time I went. There have been many times where I went to an event fearing being alone, but my friends would come up to me and talk to me and embrace me like the numerous times before. The support and acceptance that I have received within Gamma Phi have helped to create a comfortability within myself and in the person that I am today. Before I would be too shy or fearful to get involved and put myself out there, but thanks to Gamma Phi I am more confident in myself than ever. Not only do I know that I have a group of people at Clemson who really care about me and my success, but I know that they enjoy being around me and that I am an important part of the sorority – that I am liked and valued.
Gamma Phi has introduced me to so many individuals who inspire me to be a better self. I see my sisters traveling through countries around the world, working their dream jobs in different cities, and really living their best lives. I have become the type of person who now wants to get involved and share my ideas instead of remaining quiet with the fearing being rejected. I know that I will not be judged for who I am or for showing my real personality. The people in Gamma Phi have many individual differences, yet we form a group of people who genuinely enjoy being around each other. We do not need to pretend or to fit a certain mold to be loved. After joining Gamma Phi, I have become the type of person who isn’t afraid of being myself and I know that I do not need to act a certain way to be accepted. My sisters have showed me that our passions and talents are what make us unique. It took many years, but I finally feel confident in the person I am and want to showcase my unique traits. I credit a lot of that to my sisters and the healthy environment that Gamma Phi has created.
To my big, Sara, and my grand-big, Autumn, thank you for helping me get more involved in the Clemson community and for bringing me into the most supportive family. To my little, Virginia, thank you for inspiring me with your kindness and adding more laughter to my life. To PC 18, thank you for introducing me to so many unique people and making life more interesting. And to Gamma Phi, thank you for always accepting me and helping build confidence within myself that will last a lifetime.
Moving 12 hours away from my family, leaving all my friends behind, going to a school where I didn’t know a single soul, about to begin a recruitment process that I knew absolutely nothing about, it was scary, to say the least. But it was also exhilarating and new too. And I was so excited to see what was in store for me.
I had no clue what to expect from recruitment. I didn’t know if it was going to be small interviews, presentations, or something else. So of course I felt scared and unprepared when I walked into Littlejohn Coliseum that first day. No one knew me and I knew nobody. I could choose to be anybody I wanted to be, and I decided to just be unapologetically me. I reminded myself of every time I stepped into a new room, meeting new women from different sororities. The fear that was weighing me down started to lighten and I began to have fun.
Gamma Phi was not the first sorority I had met, and I’m actually thankful for that because, as the long day wore on, I got more comfortable with showing off who I was. So when I walked into that Gamma Phi room, and the woman, who would later become my Big, scooped my arm, I felt at home. And yes that sounds so cliche, but there’s really no other way I could describe it. I felt like this is the place where I could walk around with no makeup, in a baggy t-shirt, and still feel loved. Jayme was the first woman I talked to, and we discovered that we’re both from Pennsylvania and bonded over the fact that Wawa is way better than Sheetz. The next round, I met Liv, who was surprisingly from my small hometown. I had known Liv for all of 2 minutes and I felt so comfortable talking to her about how scared I was leaving home. Gamma Phi made me feel like, not only could I find my place at Clemson, I could find my home.
It’s been almost two years since those conversations and I can still say that I am beyond grateful that I chose Gamma Phi. In that time, I’ve made friends whose homes are far away like mine and friends whose families live just around the corner. I’ve made friends whose parents took me in for tailgates and dinners when I needed family time the most. I’ve made friends who go on adventures with me and know how to make me laugh when I’m feeling homesick. I’ve made friends who I can’t live without so decided I need them as my roommates. I’ve made friends who push me to be my very best, as a Clemson student and as a person. I’ve made friends who are my family. And I have Gamma Phi to thank for that.
Last summer, I applied and was selected to go to Gamma Phi’s Real Leadership Experience, at the Psi Chapter of University of Oklahoma. For my four day stay, myself and 39 other gamma phis from all over the country got to learn and live together. Through mini workshops we learned about how to be a stronger woman and honed in on our leadership skills.
While the week can be summed up into just a few short sentences, the experience that I walked away with is one that will stick with me forever.
By some odd string of luck, Annabel Jones, the International President of Gamma Phi Beta, was my small group leader. RLE was hosted at the facilities of the Psi chapter, the same chapter Annabel was an initiated member at and walked the very halls of as a collegiate member over 30 years ago. There was a fire in her voice when she talked about Gamma Phi, a kind of love I don’t know if I’ve ever heard and that same love radiated from every sister that I met that week.
Every time someone describes an organization they are part of, they mention how they love that they can be a part of something far bigger than themselves. As cliche as it sounds, RLE showed me that our sisterhood at the epsilon theta chapter is only a small portion of the sisterhood that bounds two countries and 145 years. I fell in love with Gamma Phi Beta all over again and it was for the same exact reason as the first time- the love, the acceptance, and the trueness of the bonds formed. It was as if I was initiated into a second chapter of Gphi. Every day we text in our groupme updates from our chapters. We share the same excitement for bid day, big little reveal, and every thing life related.
I am so grateful for all the memories that I gained from RLE but I’m most grateful for my true and constant friends.
To my freshman year roommate, Emily:
When I went through rush in the fall and pledged Gamma Phi, you were there for it all. Even though you decided not to go through formal recruitment in the fall, you were there to support me on the night before pref round, you were there to hype me up as i got ready to go to my bid day, you were there to encourage me before every buddy date i went on, and most of all, you were always there to have my back.
That’s why when you pledged in the spring, I knew everyone in Gamma Phi was going to be so overjoyed to have another true & constant sister. Knowing that I was now able to give you the same support system as a pledge that you gave me was one of the best feelings. I loved being your bid day buddy, your semi date, hearing about your buddy dates as you looked for a family of your own in GPhi, and getting to meet the amazing girls in your pledge class (BDPC fr).
However, if I had to choose a favorite memory of ours this year, it would be moving onto the sorority hall after your bid day. Although a chaotic move and a short-lived experience, it made me realize that my freshman year would not have been nearly as much fun without you. From being weirdos and having conversations between communal showers, to accidentally getting locked out late at night and having to call a sister to the rescue, to having the deepest, most genuine girl talks on our futon, there is no way my freshman year would have been the same without you.
Because of you, I understand how significant a first year roommate is. You are my best friend, and no matter how far we go, I know we will always be there for each other as Clemson family and GPhi sisters.
Your partner in crime,
From kindergarten to 12th grade, I went to the same school with the same group of people. I never got the chance to experience life outside of my small private school bubble. Being best friends with the people I grew up with and knowing everyone’s life story was my norm. Considering that I graduated with 23 students, the thought of going to school with around 23,000 students somewhat terrified me. I didn’t know if making new friends would come easy for me or if I was ready to say goodbye to everything in Charleston. After coping with the idea that my life was about to completely change as I was about to begin a new chapter in my life, I decided to make the most out of it by going through recruitment.
The thought of rushing intimidated me since I would be talking to many diverse girls without knowing a single thing about them. It was an experience I felt like I was never really prepared for and didn’t know what to expect. During rush, I felt confident and comfortable talking to the girls in Gamma Phi. I didn’t feel like I had to put on a show or try to act like someone I wasn’t. Looking back on my experience, I would have never thought one of the girls I talked to during Preference Round would become my bid day buddy, big, and best friend. As cliche as it seems, the wisest advice I was given during recruitment was to trust the process and follow your gut.
I can proudly say that joining Gamma Phi has hands down been one of the best decisions I have made in my life. It brought me out of my small private school comfort zone and opened many doors for me, one of which was joining the club field hockey team, TOPSoccer, and intramural basketball team. Although my experience was cut short due to COVID-19, I cherished every moment I was able to spend with Gamma Phi. I’m so thankful I was able to enjoy my spring break at Disney with two of my sisters and even show them a little piece of my life back at home in Charleston.
Thank you GPhi for being my home away from home and giving me life long friends!!!
I came into college as an only child of two immigrant parents. With no siblings, and no family from the states, I started off knowing very little about greek life. Little did I know that over the next four years I would find myself with more friends, more sisters, and more family than I could ever imagine possible. I met my best friend and future roommate on bidday. I have travelled to 6 different states with my sisters. Yet, the greatest thing Gamma Phi ever gave me was my family.
To my big, Erin, thanks for showing me the ropes. For teaching me about college, about Clemson, and about life. Thanks for being there for me and being a guiding light. Thanks for being my person, for picking me as your little, and picking me for life. I can’t wait to one day stand beside you on your wedding day :) I’ll love you always. So proud of you for everything you’ve become. Keep killing law school!
To my little, Bri, thanks for being my opposite. Thanks for reminding me life isn’t always about the cold hard facts, sometimes it’s good to just relax and be creative. I’ll never be nearly as talented as you, but you always inspire and amaze me. You are such a hard worker, and I’m so excited to see everything you do when you graduate :) Love you endlessly. I look at the canvas you painted me daily and it always makes me smile and think of all our memories together.
To my glil, Liz, thanks for being my twin. Thanks for being just as outgoing and crazy as me. Thanks for being from the north so you understand me and thanks for transferring. Life wouldn’t be the same without you. I’m so glad you ended up at Clemson and more importantly that you ended up in the family. I cannot think of a better fit. I will be back in Boston ASAP for more cannolis. Go live up senior year in my honor :) love you tons.
To my gglil, Cait, thanks for being a balance. Thanks for being just as down to go out as you are to have a night in. Thanks for being a wonderful example of how to handle school and a social life. Thanks for deciding to rush and rounding out this family (at least for my time here at Clemson). Thanks for loving dance as much as I do and always being the most fun at karaoke. It was nice to have a science major around again. Made me feel less crazy about my classes. I’ll always love ya for that.
To all my future family members, thanks for keeping this family going. You’ve joined one of the best family lines in Gamma Phi and though I might be biased, it’s still true. These girls are some of the most supportive, loving, caring, intelligent, strong, fun people you’ll ever meet. Treasure your time with them. Make time for fam dinner, check in with each other, and know that one day you’ll look back and realize the best gift Gamma Phi gave you wasn’t your functions, but your family.
I’ll be back soon to see/meet you all, but for now just know I love you all. Thank you for all the memories we’ve made together. I can’t wait to sit down and eat mexican again and laugh with us all at one table. I no longer feel like an only child, I have an ever growing family that I am ever grateful and ever loyal to. I am so proud to have been a part of this and I hope you all are too.
-Love the (current) matriarch of the this family, Lauren
Each blog post is written by a different sister to help showcase all of the diverse reasons why we love Gamma Phi.