On this episode, Kelly chats with members Baylee Zimmerman, Michaela Markwell, Lexi Calderon and Scarlett Nichols from Iota Lambda Chapter on their experience establishing the first NPC sorority on campus, during a global pandemic, as they celebrate their one year anniversary.
Disclaimer: This transcript was developed with an automated transcription program, spelling and grammar errors may occur.
Welcome to the Alpha Connect Sisterhood series podcast. I'm your host Kelly McGinnis Beck, national president. This podcast is all about sharing the stories of our members and our connection through Alpha Sigma Alpha. Thank you for joining us today. Today on our podcast, I am joined by some of the women from our newest established chapter Iota lambda at Flagler College. So welcome, ladies.
So let's get started with each of you introducing yourself say who you are, what your role in the chapter is today?
My name is Baylee Zimmerman, and I am the chapter president.
I'm Michaela Markwell. I'm the vice president of alumnae and heritage.
I'm Alexis Calderon, and I am the standards chairman.
I'm Scarlett Nichols, and I am the vice president of new membership education.
Wonderful. And so I should remember this since we just wrapped up our our one year anniversary, but all of you are founding members, correct?
Scarlets not so she has a little bit of a different experience than the three of you. So let's start with you three and talk a little bit about what brought you to Alpha Sigma Alpha, what made you want to be part of our emerging chapter here, when we were getting started a year ago in the middle of a global pandemic, who wants to go first?
I can go ahead and jump into that. So I chose Flagler, was excited to come to school here. And I knew that there wasn't a lot of sorority life on campus. And I wanted to be a part of that because my mom was a part of that with a different sorority, but I knew it wasn't here. And I was like, that's okay, and when I found out that there was a new emerging chapter here that I got really excited, I was like, that'd be so cool. And to be involved in Sorority Life was something that I wanted to do. And coming into school with the pandemic was very difficult. There weren't a lot of things in person. So that was difficult getting involved. And, but I know, social media has helped a lot with that with our leadership consultant, Jamie reaching out last year. She really she was great about that, and getting lots of women to be interested in come out to, I was gonna say events, but they were really zoom calls that we started.
Yeah, it was a very different experience than what normally happens.
Yeah. So we hopped on Zoom calls, and I learned about Alpha Sigma Alpha and the core values and everything like that. And so the second semester, we were able to have some in person events, which is really nice. And get to know each other more, which was super fun. That's kind of how I came to Alpha Sigma Alpha and through social media really.
Okay, Chandler, what about you?
So yeah, I was as a freshman, when I got picked for that. All my classes were online. So I didn't really have much of a social life at all, as mostly stuck in my dorm room. So then Jamie, she contacted me on Instagram. She basically spammed me. He's like, You should join our sorority. And I was like, okay, and then I really didn't have any in-person events it was over zoom. So like, I didn't like it that much. So I kind of felt back from it for a couple months, until she started contacting me much more, and she was like, You should come back. We would love to have you again. We're having more in person events. So I was like, okay, yeah, I'll definitely come back. And because I wasn't really like an actual member yet. So that was kind of like getting into it. So that's how basically where I've been here since then, and I got a position and I really love my position.
I'm glad she spammed me.
How about you?
So my experience, I'm gonna be honest, I knew nothing about Greek life. I was like, What is Greek life? Is that like a challenge? Like, I thought it was food or something? No, I first thought I was like, food Greek food now. But the reason I like was drawn to it because coming from Flagler, like I, well, coming to Flagler I knew no one literally came from in the middle of nowhere in a rural town where you knew everyone. And my childhood best friend Caroline, her sister went to Memphis and was the president of her chapter. So I was like, Ooh, Greek life. Like I want to see what it's like. So she kind of was like my little like, mentor before I joined and then same thing with Jamie. She was blowing me up like, Hey, you should come check us out. I was like, Oh, okay. Friends, so and then, you know, it's been great ever since like, I would never go back on my decision. I mean, I've met so many great people through this organization. And it was honestly just a blessing in disguise. So,
Scarlet you joined after, after the chapter was installed?
Yeah, I joined in the fall of 2021.
Okay, so just this past fall, yes. So I swear, I feel like Fall 2021 seems like forever ago. It's just like, not that far away. So you were kind of in that first recruitment experience? What was that like?
So I actually found out about Alpha Sigma Alpha at Flagler from social media as well, coming in, I remember following an Instagram page, and I was like, this would be so cool to be a part of, I'm an only child. So I was nervous to move away from home for the first time, kind of be on my own, go through that alone. So I was like, I feel like this would be a good opportunity for me. When I got on campus, I went to a club night that we had, and I got to meet some of the girls. And I just knew like right away, like it was a place that I wanted to be. But it was really cool to be kind of the first class after the installation of the chapter. Because we kind of got to be the first class, I went to recruitment, get big sisters kind of go through these new experiences. So it was cool to have the first group of girls kind of guide us through that. We were aware that it was a new chapter, and everything wasn't going to be perfect, but I was part of the process. And I feel like it's been a cool experience. And I'm happy that I'm here today.
It's quite the learning experience, isn't it? So talk a little bit about what was it like to try to build sisterhood in the middle of a pandemic?
That was difficult, so difficult?
Like, what kind of things did you do? I'm assuming a lot of it was on Zoom.
A lot of initial zoom events, and then a lot of our in person events the second semester, because we did start to come back and have in person things were masked. So you didn't see what everything looked like, which is different.
Isn't that the truth? And take off your mask? Yeah. Oh, that's what your face looks like.
We had some luckily, we're in Florida. And it's nice out most of the time. So we had times where we would go and get food and all sit outside. So we could see everyone talk to everyone on our campus is really open to that as well.
So you could be outside without a mask?
If we were eating Yes.
Okay. Oh, if you were eating?
Yes. More so the stipulations there.
But that's what I remember, after. I think a lot of us got our bids. The first time the first group, we went and grabbed foods like pizza. And we all sat outside and like had SIBO. And we that's when we all really met each other. So that was, I think everyone is nervous. And we didn't know exactly what was going on. Kind of tentative, but it was really exciting at the same time.
I can imagine
How about you guys?
I mean, it. I mean, it was nice that we were able to have those opportunities when we were very strict with COVID, those little moments where like Bailey was talking about like going to get pizza and like just basically having like, the sit downs where you just mingle and get to know each other better, because I think that's what brought us the closest, like as fast as we did. Because I feel like if we just stayed on Zoom, we would have been so stagnant with each other and it would have just been a weird match. So I'm glad we were able to have those little like meetups, because I think that is what led us to being able to click as much as we did and be able to have this bond that we all share together.
Well, I think Makayla for you kind of describe You're right. In the beginning, it was a lot of zoom and hard to connect.
I think that was, I think, the opposite experience. And like, yeah, I felt like we were kind of close together. But I also felt like we are very far apart. They kind of like hang out like on campus without a mask. And so then you can't make it to a lot of events, just like you kind of felt isolated.
And yet you guys persevered and got installed virtually our first chapter that we've ever installed virtually that was quite the experience all the way around. But it looked like for my end, right. So I was on the Zoom call for all of that, but it looks like you all had the ability to be together for some of that. Is that correct?
Yeah, I think right after that. We were able to go and take pictures together, which is really nice to have our installation pictures. So that was nice for us and hang out after
I know we had parents on the Zoom calls and I The one thing some of our alumnae loved was they got to be part of that. And they wouldn't have otherwise been here because normally we'd have your advisors and the national president would come in and a couple other volunteers, but that would be about it. So we had other alumnae who normally wouldn't get to come at least get to join the Zoom call and be part of that. I know we had some past National Presidents on there and whatnot, just wanted to have that experience, which was, which was fine. It was different. For sure, you guys will definitely go down in the history books from that perspective as our first virtually installed chapter. And so it was great that we could come together today to celebrate one year in a much Dare I say normal way, right? We're all sitting here today, no masks on getting to be social, which is really nice. So talk a little bit about Iota lambda chapter Flagler College, what what what are you guys known for on campus? What are some things that your favorite events that you like to do what you know what brings you guys together?
I feel like at least from my perspective, when I think of our chapter, especially on campus, I just think of a strong group of women who are there for each other. Our campus is kind of small, we're not the biggest school. But I know that I can be having a bad day and you know, walk into a class and I'll see a sister's face and like that just like brightens my day. So to know that you have that, you know, through the good or the bad is what I love about our chapter. As far as events, things I love, I just love our sisterhood events, just when we're doing simple things together, even chapter like I look forward to chapter I think it's fun. Just getting together be together, getting to share your experiences of college, because college is not the easiest thing in the world, especially your first year, being a freshman has been hard. But I've had these girls to navigate with me through it. So that's been really cool. For me.
One of my favorite things that I have been able to do so previously. Before I was before I became chapter president, I was the public relations chairman. And so I really wanted for our campus to see was that we were spreading awareness and giving back to our community and just people as a whole. And so for me, something that I love to do was every month, we had a an awareness tabling. So for example, October we had breast cancer awareness tabling, because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So we handed out ribbons, and then information about breast cancer and how it affects so many people around you. And then for November, we did an Alzheimer's awareness tabling. And so we've continued to do some events like that. So my hope for that was that people on campus would see the that we as a chapter care about giving back to our community and spreading awareness of things that need to be known. So that's one of my favorite things that I've done.
I'd have to agree, because my, one of my favorite events that we have on campus that really engages the entire student body, in my opinion, is what the blood drives. Because our turnout this year was phenomenal. We were I think like two or three times over our estimated amount that we wanted. And we had students coming from everywhere. There was no one direction where they were coming from, they were just coming from everywhere, saying hi, please, can I please like donate? Like, what do I need to do just reaching out to us and it was so nice, because it also, you know, made us want to do it again. And that's why we're going to be doing it this coming April with two buses instead of one because we were just jam packed with people that we had to start turning them away. So it really shows that you know, like we care about the community, we want to like give back. So that's one thing that I love about this.
And was that open just to Flagler students, or was it open to everyone?
We had people coming from, like, out of town, like we had people driving? And they were like, Hey, we heard the bus was here, like, can we help and I mean, I feel bad, but we had to turn away because we just had so many donors. So that's why I'm glad we're having two buses this time instead of one because we're just going to give back even more than we anticipated in the beginning.
Yeah, I would say the same thing is like volunteer work is kind of like my favorite thing too. Because I grew up with like doing volunteer work. So I always like helping out with the community and all that. And I also like since today we did our HSA anniversary like planning those things to like events for my sisters and all that because I really want them to have like a good time. I always try to make a smile, make them have a smile on their face. So I always like doing event was like my favorite thing.
It's fun to get together. You So, how has the Flagler College and the community kind of embraced Alpha Sigma Alpha, from your perspective?
I think it's, um, it's been very interesting. Like, I don't know if that's the best way to describe it. But um, we don't have a lot of fraternity sorority life here on campus. And there's a lot of stereotypes that come along with fraternity sorority life. So coming on to campus and trying to break down those stereotypes has been difficult. And there also is a local sorority that has been here for years. And so trying to foster relationships with them. And also with the one fraternity we have on campus has been, it's been difficult, but we're really making moves now to reach out and to really come together as fraternity sorority life on campus to show that we're not the stereotypes that you see in movies and TV shows. And that we, we aren't just, I guess you could say, like paying for a friend, because that's what a lot of people think that that's really like is it's not what it is. It's, you know, bringing people together, yes, for sisterhood and to find friendship, but also to create those friends for life and to create connections throughout the nation, and to build for us, especially leadership skills that can help you for years down the road.
You said something earlier in your remarks during this book celebration, I wish I could remember exactly. ... said something about the leadership skills that you you learned, I can't remember those exact words, he
said something about holding the position as president has taught me a lot about leadership from within. So learning your boundaries, as you know, knowing if you're an introvert or extrovert, and where you need to draw the line of delegation, but also, not just leadership from within, but what you can learn from all the people that you've worked with, is it's just insane them that amount of help that you can get from people and, and wisdom from. I mean, we have women from all different states and, and stuff like that, so and backgrounds and, and everything like that. So learning from them to just broaden your knowledge is really, really important.
So you guys are all officers, what else have you what leadership has this already given year with your Alpha Sigma Alpha experience given you?
I think one thing that I have really learned is as a leader is active listening, it's not always like telling people what to do, it's listening to what they have to say as well. And sometimes that can be hard, because maybe you have a perspective of something that everyone else might not. But I think the best leaders listen as much as they you know, give their own opinions and kind of delegate out information. So that's something that I've learned is you have to listen to the people you're working with as well.
Um, I think I've I've held a leadership role before, but I think the one thing I learned is like I'm still learning on it, obviously, is asking for help. Yeah, I always like to do things like myself or plan things for like, because that's how my mind works is like, oh, I can do this. I can do it. But then last minute, or something comes up. I'm like, I really need help. Yeah, I'm still learning that I think that's like, an important thing to me is always ask for help, even because there's always be someone that wants to help also.
One thing for me, so I'm not gonna lie, I'm not the most responsible. And Alex was listening to me rant about how irresponsible I can be. But I wanted to challenge myself with being standard chairman, because I was not fully engaged last year with like the chapter and you know, while it's emerging and things like that, so I really wanted to challenge myself with being responsible. And with taking this role. I've learned how much the women in this chapter and just the organization as a whole, like, they're all there for us. And that's what makes me so happy because when I fail when I need to ask for help, I have those people that will help me reach my responsibility goal while also helping others within the chapter. So I know I have people to fall back on. And same with them, they can fall back on me. And it's just the friendships and sister that I pictured, like defeating that stereotype like, especially with being at Flagler, like Bailey was saying there was that barrier, the stereotypical sorority, and being able to break down that barrier and show that we were different show that we genuinely care of one another, and, you know, give back to the community, that's what basically drove me to want to be more responsible and help and give back and just do better for the chapter as a whole.
Well, not only to have all of your chapter sisters, you have your advisors as well, yeah, which is an important just an important component, you know, not every chapter has alumnae that live close by, but you're fortunate to have a number of them. And it gives you the opportunity to see what lifetime membership really looks like I knew for me when I was in my chapter and undergrad, we had a very active chapter advisor. And so I learned kind of early on what that looked like, and then went to convention and saw it, you know, 10 times over and was like, Oh, I definitely want to stay involved from there. But it was nice. Like, I remember, you know, calling her and God bless her, she, you know, she take your call at anytime a night, like 1130 at night, and she's still chatting away, you know, answering a million questions, but having that support system, I think from, you know, an older generation perspective, who's also been there, done that, and can guide you. But then also it's, you know, it's a little bit I was I was talking to Ruth earlier I said, it's a little bit like being a parent, right, you want to guide them, but you also have to know when to kind of, you know, step in and say, No, you can't do that another time be like, I'm gonna let you you know, learn this lesson on your own, whether it's good or bad. So I think you guys are very lucky to have that support system around you as well. So you've got, you know, almost like your cushion to fall back on after you've got yourself. So no one's graduating just yet. So you've got a little bit more time here at Flagler, you know, what, what are you most looking forward to in, you know, as you wrap up this school year, and think about next year? And you know, where do you want to go from there?
I'm excited about our formal.
Your first one?
Yes, it's our, our formal, I'm so excited about that. Because for me, I mean, if we're looking back with COVID, I didn't get a senior prom. So
Oh, my goodness
And have nice pictures and all that. So I'm really excited about that for the end of this semester, and I'm really looking forward to recruitment next semester. And looking forward to not only just the incoming freshmen, but also the people who are here that may have we haven't reached on campus yet.
Yeah, it's a nice, it's a nice, small campus where it seems like you've got lots of opportunity to be visible on campus on a regular basis, which is pretty cool. Yeah. Come on, let's go next.
Okay, um, I'm excited for formal to situation, no senior prom, I literally didn't have my senior year. So I'm so excited for that. And to be able to just spend time with our sisters and just enjoy each other, this presence, excuse me. And like recruitment, that's, I'm so excited for that. Because we obviously struggled in the past with, you know, an emerging chapter. But I think with the amount of people we've reached, now, I think we're gonna have a better turnout with recruitment. And I'm excited to, you know, reach more people and share the same experience we've all had together. And I just, I don't know, I'm excited for them more than I am myself, because I want them to experience what we have and be able to know people from across the country. So I'm excited for that.
So yeah, I'm excited for formal. But I'm also like, since I work with seniors and everything, I'm kind of excited for the new ceremony for them to like, present, like their presentation and their legacy plan. So I'm very excited for them. I started off with like, eight of them, and now I'm down to three. So it's been like a hectic ride with all that. But for next year, I haven't really told a lot of people who I've been hearing I found out recently, I got accepted into an exchange program.
Where are you going?
I'm going to Germany in the fall. So I have to plan that for someone to take over my position to help me out with that.
So that sounds like a fun, exciting experience.
Very excited, so
Then you'll get to come back and tell everybody else what your experience is like. Awesome,
I think I am looking forward to our sanctuary degree that we have coming up because I get to work with our new members directly. And it's been really cool for me to kind of get to see them go through the experience that I went through and see them kind of fall in love with like Greek life and being in a sorority. So it's been a cool opportunity for me. Just kind of build a relationship with them and see them grow and see how they've changed over a semester, because they all have and I think that's been super cool. So I'm excited to see them become, you know, initiated members. And then as well as next semester, recruitment, going through all that again, and just getting to see our chapter grow. So
Getting to do it all in person.
I think that's a big part that can't be ignored. Right. Right. Because it just it makes the experience difference. Awesome. Well, ladies, thank you. Appreciate you guys sharing your story. I know our listeners are gonna love to hear all about our newest chapter. So thank you. Thank you for hosting me for your one year anniversary. I hope some of you make the trip to Baltimore for convention. It's gonna be fun. I can't not put a convention plug in here. So hopefully we'll see you there and to our listeners. Until next time,
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