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
Well, it is now week 6 or 7 of being quarantined due to COVID-19. Everyone has been sent home, classes are all online, and shops/restaurants are closed. Nobody expected something like this was ever going to happen! I miss the way things were before and I’m sure everyone else does too. I miss waking up and going to class, Chick-fil-dates with my roommates, and everything that comes with going to Clemson University. However, I am missing my Gamma Phi sisters the most. I rushed this past year as a rising sophomore and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to gain very much from joining a sorority. However, I ended up meeting my best friends and believe that rushing Gamma Phi was the best decision I've made. I met most of them on Bid Day and we have all been inseparable since. It’s crazy to think that these girls were all strangers to me before recruitment and now I couldn’t imagine my life without them.
I was in Clemson’s Bridge Program my freshman year and was super disappointed that I couldn’t rush at the time. Both of my parents were in Greek life at Clemson and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of as well. However, when it came time to sign up for recruitment this past summer I got really scared and apprehensive about the whole process. Was any sorority going to like me? What if I don’t “click” with any of the girls? How will I know which sorority is right for me? They always say “trust the process,” and as cheesy as that sounds, that’s exactly what you should do. All of my worries quickly disappeared after meeting the girls in Gamma Phi and seeing how close their bond was. They welcomed me with open arms and were so excited that I was going to be their future sister. I have made some of the best memories this past year thanks to Gamma Phi. Semi-formal, Moon Ball, the Lip Sync Battle and so many more events have brought me closer to everyone.
COVID-19 really put a damper on this semester. My heart goes out to our seniors in Gamma Phi and I want them to know that I’ll miss them and am thankful for the time I got to spend with them! Hopefully soon this will all pass. Before we know it, we’ll be back in Tillman Hall for chapter and will be reunited with everyone. Snapchat and iMessage are keeping me in contact with my girls for now! It’s hard to put into words just how thankful I am for Gamma Phi. They have given me friendships that will last a lifetime and I can’t wait for what's to come!
I miss and love you all.
Coming into Clemson as a Sophomore, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Sure, I had visited the campus before and talked to a few other transfers over social media, but I didn’t know how I was going to transition to this big change. My freshman year of college I attended George Washington University, which is right in the heart of Washington, D.C. Moving from D.C. to Clemson, South Carolina was going to be a huge change for me. When I visited Clemson, I knew it was going to be a better fit for me than GW was, so I was ready to take on the challenge.
Since I was coming into a much larger school where I didn’t know a single person, I was nervous about meeting people and making friends, especially since I was coming in as a sophomore and people already had friends. I decided to ease the friend making process by going through recruitment. I had literally no idea what to expect from this, and all of my friends from home and GW were telling me it was going to be insane. I’m from Massachusetts and Greek like at colleges at home doesn’t really compare to how it is in the south. One of my biggest concerns was that I was going to be the only sophomore, surrounded by freshmen, and that none of the sororities wanted to take sophomore. Then when I met with my Pi Chi group for the first time, I was relieved to find out that there were 5 other sophomores rushing with me in my group and my Pi Chi even rushed as a sophomore. All through recruitment I was meeting girls who were either other PNMs that were also sophomores, or members in rounds that I was paired with who had rushed as sophomores themselves. I learned that it was totally normal and there was no reason to be worried in the first place.
Going through recruitment and joining Gamma Phi was one of the best choices I’ve made as a transfer and it has made my Clemson experience so much better! I was able to make friends before classes even started within my pledge class, and I had some familiar faces to say hi to around campus in the first few days. Joining Gamma Phi made me feel like I was already part of a community within the larger Clemson community. I didn’t feel like an outsider at my new school, I felt welcomed and it really did help my transition here. If you are either transferring to Clemson or even a current student thinking about going through recruitment as a sophomore or junior, my advice for you is DO IT! It may seem scary at first, but I promise you that everyone is nervous, and it is completely normal. You’ll find the perfect home for you with girls who will welcome you, so you don’t feel lonely. You will join an amazing family, who will literally do anything for you, like a family away from your actual family at home. Rushing as a transfer and joining G Phi was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in college, besides choosing to transfer to Clemson in the first place!
- Liz May
I just want to start by thanking you for making my experience in Gamma Phi so much more memorable. Your friendship is one of the most valuable things I have gained since joining. Having you as a big gave me a sense of comfort here at my home away from home. I know I always joke and call you my mom but you literally are at Clemson. I know I can always call you to catch up or just tell the most non important aspects of my life and you will listen.
I’m sad that your time at Clemson has come to a close but so proud of everything you accomplished. You did an amazing job leading our chapter as president last year and showed me the importance of having leadership. Your hard work and diligence has landed you a job right out of college. And let me just say you have set the bar high as my role model.
I love you biggie more than you know and can’t wait to see all the great things you have yet to accomplish!
with lots of love always,
Dear Gamma Phi,
I never really understood the point of a sorority until I joined yours. Coming in as a freshman, I only went through recruitment with the intent of making a few friends to get me started at a new school. It was just a way of making a big school feel smaller. But what I’ve gotten out of it has been so much more than that. I have such a big appreciation for all of the little things that come with being in a sisterhood. From bid day where I met my one-of-a-kind bid day buddy to big/little reveal where I got the big sister I always wished for. From visiting the hall to make waffles and watch The Bachelor with my favorite “college moms,” all the way to recruitment this year where I became best friends with my future roommates, it’s the little moments like those that have made Gamma Phi the highlight of my college experience.
Each and every one of you have played such a crucial role in shaping me into the woman I am. Never once have I felt the need to hide any part of myself or become something that I’m not. I have been praised for my strengths and embraced for my flaws. And that is exactly what a sorority should be. It’s not about the cute pictures in our letters or the fun mixers and functions. Being in a sorority is about forming relationships with women who are in your life to help you grow and grow along with you. They understand me in a way that nobody else will because they’re the reason that I am the way I am. Thank you for supporting me through everything and thank you for constantly giving me a purpose and making me feel like a small part of something much bigger. Y’all make life so beautiful and wayyy more fun! :)
Never in a million years did I think I was going to be the girl who was so “gung-ho” for her sorority, but every single day I walk around with the pride of being a member of the Epsilon Theta chapter of Gamma Phi Beta and I know that there is no better group of girls to call my best friends and sisters. Thank you for making me laugh when I’ve had a rough day. Thank you for inviting me over for dinner when I was sick of eating dining hall food. Thank you for listening to my never-ending stories about absolutely nothing and letting me complain even when I really have nothing to complain about. And thank you for so much more that you all have done for me and the millions of things I know you will continue to do for me. No amount of thank you’s will ever be enough because you can never understand how much being a part of Gamma Phi and its undeniable sisterhood has done for me. I feel so blessed to call Gamma Phi my home away from home.
Mary B <3
Written by: Mary Bauwens, PC '18
As a freshman at Clemson, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what Greek life was like. It seemed like a daunting commitment to make and the whole recruitment process was super intimidating to me. Because of this, I decided not to rush my freshman year and wasn’t sure if I ever would. However, within a few weeks, I ended up becoming close friends with a few girls in Gamma Phi. Through this, I saw how sorority life was so much more than I originally had thought. Not only did these girls have a consistent support group of sisters, but also participated in retreats, service projects, and social events. These events reflected the type of people I wanted to surround myself with, and I began to see how sorority life was more of a well-rounded experience than I had originally thought.
After struggling with the transition from freshman to sophomore year and feeling somewhat out of place at Clemson, I decided to give sorority life a try. I worried about rushing as a sophomore because I felt “too old” but was pleasantly surprised to know other sophomores, and even a few juniors, were in my shoes. I met some of my best friends through my pledge class and believe rushing a sorority was the best decision I’ve made here at Clemson. Joining as a sophomore introduced me to girls my age and younger that I probably would have never met!
Going into my first full year as a sister, I wanted to share my story because there is never a “bad time” to join a sorority. Being welcomed with open arms into Gamma Phi changed my Clemson experience, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only do I have the honor of knowing these amazing women now, but I know I can count on them as lifelong friends. I think that is something that every girl can benefit from!
Written by: Natalie Sinclair, PC Fall '18
Rush week was very stressful for me, especially coming from in state. I was nervous and terrified I’d make the wrong decision. Every time the doors of Gamma Phi swung open, the stress went away. I was a new person and I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time! The girls were genuine and real with me all week, making Gamma Phi so comfortable and pressure-free. By philanthropy round, I walked out smiling because I knew that I just made some lifelong friends as cliche as it sounds. Turns out that one of those girls is now my big and another is someone who I talk to all the time even though she has since graduated and moved thousands of miles away.
I wish I could go back in time two years to take a good long look at the person I was before recruitment, and before Gamma Phi came into my life. I would tell myself that everything was going to be ok. The women in Gamma Phi have truly helped me become who I am today. Going into college I assumed that the best thing about beings in a sorority would be the random road trips, movie nights, and sleepovers, but little did I know that the moments I would cherish most would be when I was at my lowest and my sisters helped piece me back together again. When I was the hardest person to love, they loved me anyways. Gamma Phi has lived up to all those expectations, but I value most when sisters come into my room just to say hey, intentionally ask about my day, or be down for a dance party to let off steam. These girls have become my go-to gameday buddies, ice cream dates, late night chats, and everything in between. Sometimes I wonder what my college experience would look like without Gamma Phi, and I realize that I would be missing out on all of these genuine friendships. Gamma Phi has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, yet I feel comfortable because I know I have my sisters by my side supporting me. So when going through recruitment, pay attention to the women surrounding you. Picture who you could become in two years because of their presence. Trust the process and one day they may become your why Gamma Phi.
Written by: Aubrey Keffer, PC: Fall '17