This is the final episode in the National Headquarters Series. Kelly chats with the three newest members of staff: Melissa Koch Merriam, EE, Volunteer Coordinator, Sarah Johnson Gafron, Beta Theta, Collegiate Experience Coordinator, and Kayla Vivace, Epsilon Phi, Communications and Graphic Design Coordinator.
Disclaimer: This transcript was developed with an automated transcription program, spelling and grammar errors may occur.
Welcome to Alpha connect Sisterhood series. I'm your host Kelly McGinnis Beck, National President of Alpha Sigma Alpha. Thank you for joining us today. This podcast series is all about connecting. On each episode, sisters from across the country, sometimes there will be updates on official Alpha Sigma Alpha business. Every once in a while, I might take this podcast on the road with me to an academy event, chapter installatino, or university or an NPC meeting. But most of the time, I will be interviewing members, members at all stages of their membership from collegians to seasoned alulmnae and everyone in between hear their stories, learn about their journey, and celebrate our amazing connection through Alpha Sigma Alpha.
Welcome to the podcast, Melissa, Sarah and Kayla. I'm excited to have you on as our newest members to staff, this is going to kind of wrap up our national headquarters series where we've had a chance to chat with all of our staff members and let our members get to know each of you a little bit more in terms of your experience in Alpha Sigma Alpha as well as what drew you to work on staff and what your roles are like. So I figured I would have the three of you come on together. And we'll kind of go in an order. We'll have Melissa start and then Sarah, and then Kayla, and kind of go that way through all of our questions and conversations. But so we'll start first like I do with every podcast, which is tell us your ASA story. How did you become a member? So Melissa, would you like to start?
Sure, I'll start I joined out sigma alpha at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. And Emporia actually has happens to be my hometown. So kind of not really excited to go to Emporia State, but I went there because financially, it was the best decision. I had scholarships paid. So there's no reason not to go right. And so then I signed up for formal recruitment thinking it would be a good idea to meet some people, you when you're in your hometown, you know, you want to get to know the college students that, I was living at home too. And I went through and things didn't go the way that I want them to go. So I just dropped out of formal recruitment. So that was, that's my story. And then from there, I actually had in my brain that I was going to transfer to larger school, I really wasn't worried about joining a sorority or I was just like, Oh, it'll be fine. I'll join it. I'll join at a different school. But January of my of my freshman year, a good friend of mine from high school had joined Alpha Sigma Alpha. And she came to me and she just said, Hey, can we have a spot and you'd be perfect. And she came and got me. And that's kind of the rest of history. I remember walking in that door. And I had already loved them through formal recruitment. So I was already already attached already want to be an Alpha Sigma Alpha. So when I went in that second time, it was just a matter of signing the bid card really, essentially. It was easy. But then, you know, the minute I joined Alpha Sigma Alpha that really defined my college experience, I really changed my whole feelings about Emporia State. So at that point, I was like, I love Emporia State. I love Alpha Sigma Alpha. So I stayed there all four years.
Well, thank goodness that that high school friend invited you back.
Yes, that was awesome. Who knew? I was meant to be an Alpha Sigma Alpha though I fee like.
You definetly were. I would agree with that. Absolutely. We are lucky to have you. Sarah, how about you?
So I joined the Beta Theta Chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha at Central Michigan University, which is in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. And I went through formal recruitment as a freshman. I went to school. And even at orientation, my interest really started from something that my dad said before I left for orientation. And I was like, Okay, I was like Mom, go find out more about sorority recruitment and see what that's all about. So she came back at the end of the day when we met up and she had this pamphlet, she's like, it's called formal recruitment. And this is what they do, and I was like, perfect. So I want to sign up. So I signed up. And thanks to a really great recruitment counselor, my gamma chi, she really just told me to trust the process and just take it to the end. And I did and I ended up in Alpha Sigma Alpha, and my life has never been the same since then. So I'm very thankful that I joined they just test on my chapter anniversary. I've been a member for 10 years, so it's gone by really fast so far, so I'm excited for years and years to come.
I bet now where you formal recruitment, were you first semester second semester freshman.
First semester freshman.
Okay. And Melissa, yours was first semester on your campus but you joined second semester,
I joined second semester, yeah.
Got it. Okay. So Kayla, how about you?
I was a member of the Epsilon Phi chapter IU Bloomington. Whenever I got to IU I had zero interest in Greek life. I didn't really want anything to do with it. But I was desperate for friends, I was having a really hard time making friends and the only friend that I had recommended trying informal recruitment through ASA because it was the chapter that she was in. And she said, Just give it a try. Come have coffee with some people see if you like them. And that was in the spring semester of my sophomore year. And I immediately fell in love. I loved that nothing was kind of like what I thought a sorority was. And really, I made those connections. And I lived with my little the next year for my senior year. And I have friends I still talk to every single day. So it really changed my life.
So you came in a little bit later than Melissa and Sarah.
Yes I did.
So awesome. Now, Melissa and Sarah, you guys both had houses at your chapter and Kayla, I know at IU, we are the unhoused option. So, Kayla talk a little bit about what that experience was like to be one of the groups on IUs campus where most groups have a house and we went on there intentionally to break that model.
So it was actually a lot of the appeal for me that we were unhoused because I had already resigned to my lease for my apartment the next year. And I knew that a lot of the time first year members are required to live in the house. And that wasn't an option for me. And for me, it really made all of the friendships that I made more intentional because we weren't stuck in a house together. We had to go out and get to know each other and like we had, it was much more intentional in my opinion.
Melissa and Sarah, I know Melissa lived in the house, Sarah, I'm not sure if you did, but talk a little bit about that experience for each of you.
Sure, I can go and I did move into my junior year. So I lived at home my freshman and sophomore year, just financially was a better choice. But you know, it's kind of kind of what Kayla's saying it is you don't really have that ittentional, it's just like you're it's opposite of that. It's you have all these like random meetings when you're all watching Friends, which was you know, bigger idea, or, you know, you're watching movies together, or you ran into the hallway of someone and you're you have these conversations. So it's it's just, I can't really describe describe the experience, but it's one of those kinds of experiences. It's just once in a lifetime, like it's, it's so awesome. I mean, I live with 50 other women so and you connect with people that you really don't think you would ever connect with just because you're in that living space with them.
Sara, how about you? Yeah,
Yeah, so a little interesting. So I lived in the house as a sophomore, actually, it's my second year of school. And at that time, our house only had room for five women. So it was sort of just like a, it felt like a normal living situation, except everyone would come there when it came time for like sorority meetups and functions. So it was just great, because you could just walk right downstairs and you'd be ready to go like you didn't have to walk, like no snow, like it was great. So really fun and really close to campus. So it was really great getting to class super quick. And then we actually they built a new home on my last year of college. So because I did a Disney College Program in there, I graduated a semester, like later than originally planned. So I actually got to live my last semester in the new house, I mean, that lives 16. And just from like the size of the space, like they can actually have chapter meeting like at the house. And so just being able to be present and dealing with like all the newness was just a really great experience there too.
Awesome. It's always interesting to hear folks stories between house and house because you know, when you're on a campus without a house, and Kaylee can probably relate to this too, like, the thought is, oh, I would love to have a sorority house and live in the house. And then you hear folks that have the house like oh, you know, it's hard to get the house build and there's other rules that you can't have versus living in your own apartment. And so it's always interesting to hear different folks perceptions around it. I think there's an exciting element. And Sarah, I could see for you in that first house. Like there's five of you. It's probably like, you know, Kayla's experience living in an apartment with a couple other friends. Except for the fact that then you have everybody show up at your house for events. Where as Melissa got the bigger experience kind of almost similar, I think to living on campus in some respects. Cool. So what I would love to do next is have each of you talk about two things related to headquarters. So one, what drew you to wanting to apply and work at our national headquarters and I should say, Melissa is remote, Sarah is remote for now and I know you're moving to Indianapolis, I believe and then Kayla is in Indianapolis. So all of you have a little bit of a different experience. But what made you apply what made you want to come work for national headquarters and then talk a little bit about your role and what you're responsible for. So Melissa, why don't you start us off?
Yeah, well, I think I mean, my story is kind of interesting. I mean, it's a volunteer for 20 years, and you know, this past summer I, my daughter, the youngest one was starting kindergarten. And so I started kind of looking for jobs. And I was I actually had within the hopper of multiple jobs and the volunteer coordinator role popped up. And I really didn't think it was an option to work remotely. But I asked if that could be an opportunity it was shared with me that yes, that would possibly we could do that. And so that's kind of really how it happened. For me, it was really simple. It's like, I mean, I've only done this for 20 years, and I've loved every minute of volunteering. So why not just keep it on going on as a as a staff member. And for those who don't know, actually, my previous roles, and Kelly has done this as well, I served as the volunteer recruitment and placement team leader. So moving into this role, which was that and when did I do that? 2006, around 2005-2006. I mean, probably grow. But it really a lot of this role was very similar. I mean, it was the same thing. And I love that job. So I was like, why not? Why not do something I love? So that's kind of how I got here on staff. And what what was your next question, Kelly, what do, what's my role?
kind of instead talk a little bit about what your role entails?
Unknown Speaker 11:15
Well, basically, and it's so fun, and so awesome, because you just get to do Alpha Sigma Alpha every day. So that's my role entails everything with volunteers. So I mean, I talked to four potential volunteers yesterday. So I'm recruiting volunteers, I'm talking to them on the phone, telling them what it entails, eventually getting them placed in their roles and, and finally training them or making sure they get trained by someone else. So that's kind of my, my main digs. That's been pretty awesome. Because I've served in somebody's the volunteer roles that I'm talking about. So it makes it really easy for me to have a conversation and say, Oh, you want to be recruitment leader? Oh, yeah, I was that too. And this is kind of, this is what the role looks like, this is what you know how you can make it work. I talked to a woman yesterday who was pregnant with her first child. And I remember those days and volunteering and how you make that work. So it's, it's just been really awesome. But yeah, so anything with volunteers, Kelly is to answer answer your question.
Which is great. And I think you bring a lot of that wealth of experience, having served as a volunteer for so many years that you can relate to somebody new coming into volunteering, regardless of their stage of life, versus somebody maybe a little bit more mature, that's has volunteered in other capacities, looking for something different and kind of relate to those different conversations. And volunteers we certainly know are like the lifeblood of our organization to get things done. Not that we don't appreciate everything that staff does, but there's only so many hours in a day for all of you. And so in order for us to keep the organization moving forward, we are heavily reliant upon our volunteers as well. So Sarah, how about you?
Yeah. Um, so my journey on being staff is a little different. I, so out of undergrad, I actually traveled for the sorority as an education consultant for two years. So I did it the one year and I was like, I love it so much, I'm gonna do it again. And then after that life kind of took me away in a couple different directions. And then I filled my ASA void, if you will, with being a volunteer and a couple of different capacities. And most recently, just got done being a region facilitator. And it was really from that role that really opened up like another capacity I have for like the love for our collegiate members. So that kind of presented an opportunity for me when it came to becoming the new collegiate experience coordinator. So it just, it just fit. It's all the categories that I'm passionate about. And so I'm just so honored to do it. So as the collegiate experience coordinator, I kind of have a few different branches of where I help our collegiate members and their chapters. So whether that's through risk management, academic excellence, kind of dabble in service and giving. And then also chapter recognition and awards is usually where you see the most recognition but so kind of different different hats that he put on, depending on what the chapters and our members need. That that's a little bit of what I do, and starting to do.
Fun. Yes, I remember hiring you and then we put Melissa to work to find your replacement as a region facilitator.
We got it done.
So Kayla is our newest member to staff having been here what this is, this is the end of week two.
Yes, yes it is.
So tell us a little bit about your journey and how you arrived at headquarters and your role.
So I actually just finished up my undergrad in May. So I am a very recent grad and I have been on the job hunt all summer and all fall and my journey here was completely random headquarters had actually put out an ad through a recruiting agency, I was applying for every graphic design position that I could possibly see. And I saw one that was posted through like purple ink, I believe. And I applied through them. And they called me during an interview was like, hey, our client is Alpha Sigma Alpha. I'm like, Wait, that's my sorority. So whenever I came to the interview, it was my first time at headquarters and it was just kind of like a dream job. Because, like I said, as a kind of helped me out and really just helped me give, it gave me everything that I have. So I'm really happy to be able to give back. And a little bit about my role here is, as the communications and graphic design coordinator, it's kind of just like what it says, I handle a lot of communications, whether that be like marketing, through emails, or social media, and also creating any of the graphics that are used through those different social channels, as well as helping out with a lot of the rebranding that's going to be going on here soon
yeah, well, you get the creative job. And I wish I was as creative as others is certainly probably not my strength, but you get to design logos. And, you know, the Phoenix, I imagine the next edition of the Phoenix will be a big piece for you. And all of those fun things as well. So just as a connection for listeners, when they're looking at those graphics that they see come out that that comes from your group, and most likely from you. Well, awesome. So I thought what we would also do while we're together as a way for members to get to know each of you a little bit is to go through some rapid fire questions. So we had done these with the current National Council back in the fall or spring, gosh, I can't remember me because even last summer, it's all blur anymore, but went through those. And so I picked a handful and I've done them with other staff members. And I thought that it would be fun for folks to get to know you guys a little bit since you are newer to staff. They haven't had, you know, maybe some interaction but not as much. But I think it's always fun to get to know some people in a more informal type of settings. So for listeners, we'll go through Melissa, Sarah, and then Kayla will answer each one as we go. So first question, what three words best describe you?
Started off with a harder way.
Maybe enthusiastic, dependable. And that's three words?
You only gave me two words. You need one more
Maybe hard working?
All right, Sarah.
This is really hard. Um,
Whatever comes to mind, that's the whole point of it.
I think caring and dependable. And I think funny. Like, I think the people that really know me and love me think I'm funny. I'm gonna take that with me as my third word.
All right. I love being last because there's me lots of time to think. So I'm gonna roll with kind, persistent. And I guess it's two words, but I'm a good listener.
Excellent. So some of you answered this already. But we'll ask again. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Novi, Michigan, which is in the metro Detroit area.
I grew up on the west side of Indianapolis, Indiana.
All right. window or aisle seat.
I'm an aisle seat.
Window every time.
window all the way.
Right well, Melissa, now you know that you can travel with these two and get an aisle seat.
I like to be able to get off really fast. right there with you. I like the aisle.
What is the song that you know all the words to?
old school, maybe? Sweet Caroline. I know the words to sweet Carolina.
There we go
I don't know. Under pressure I don't know if I could sing you any song. I'd say Don't Stop Believing by Journey maybe.
We won't make you sing Don't worry.
And since her new album dropped today, we're gonna roll with Red by Taylor Swift.
There you go. They were just talking about that on the news this morning. What is something most people don't know about you?
Hmm. That's hard. Because I felt like I'm an open book. But I was a 4Her from like age six to 18. So I think that's something people don't know about me. Like I had farm animals and crocheting and sewing and led my 4H club and led the was the president of the county 4H too. So it's kind of where my little leadership started. Yeah. Awesome.
Um, it's not a secret and anyone who chats with me like we'll figure it out, but I feel like it's not as prevalent since there's a big age gap. But I have four siblings. So I'm number four out of five.
I guess also not really a secret and you would only know we were talking about it, but I had a softball career ending shoulder shoulder injury that still hurts all the time.
Oh, did you play at IU at all?
No, I actually happened during my senior year of high school so I wasn't able to. Yeah.
That's too bad. All right. This one's easier, Salty or sweet.
All right. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Yeah, people don't do what they say they're gonna do. And it's like, my, that's a big pet peeve of mine. No follow through.
I feel like one of my pet peeves is just like rude people, like people that aren't kind to people in like customer service, or like really impatient and life to each other. It's just like, there's always time for kindness. Okay, like, relax.
I would say probably littering, like people who just like throw things out of their car. Yeah, it makes me so mad.
Oh, my gosh, I remember back in the day when that was a big push. Melissa, you probably remember that. We're about the same age and all the ads about littering and whatnot. So to hear somebody say that in today's day and age that stinks that that's still such a prevalent thing. Who is your celebrity crush?
Oh, my gosh, I really have I'm not a big celebrity. Maybe Brad Pitt? I mean, I just really am not that into it. Yeah,
I I feel like it's Chris Evans.
I would have to go Megan Fox or Paul Rudd. Because he was just named the 2021 Sexiest Man Alive.
Yes. Love that. What is one product that you cannot live without?
I don't know. That's hard. Kelly.
I thought that one was easy. I can't live without chapstick. Anybody who knows me knows I've got chapstick. Everywhere. In every room of the house. There is a tube of chapstick.
I don't really have anything like that. I can't really think of anything that I just have to have. I mean, toothpaste. I mean, I gotta brush my teeth. But other than that, I really, I mean, I could live without a lot of things. So
I feel like there's a few staples in like my routine that I'm like, I really need that. But I feel like it'd be hard for me to get far in life without like a wet brush, like brush through and like detangle my hair. So I guess I'll go with my wet brush.
I'm gonna go with coffee, or even just caffeine. I am not a pleasant person to be around. Unless I have my morning coffee.
All right. Well, that's good to know. What is the country you wish to visit?
Unknown Speaker 23:26
These are getting harder? I don't know why that's hard. Because I really want to be. Well, yeah, I went to Europe one time, like when I was in freshman in high school. So I would think like to go back to Europe again. I mean, just the Germany, Italy. And I have memories from that. But it's so long ago that it feels like feels like I could have a refresh.
See it in a different way. Hmm. Sarah, how about you?
I really want to go to Australia,
huh? That's fun.
Um, so I've never been out of the country. So I would love to go everywhere. My main one would probably be Italy because I actually minored in Italian while I was at IU, so I got to learn a lot about their culture and like some smaller towns that I would love to visit.
All right, cool. What is the most over worn item in your closet?
Um, probably just t shirts. I mean, just t shirts. That's what I like to wear.
Like one specific item that has gotten a lot of love and where I have this, like, baseball style like V neck shirt, that I got on my travels as a consultant from the zeta tau chapter. And I wear it every time I fly on an airplane. And so I wore it at my travels when I was a consultant and I still were at my adult life. So I feel like that should have seen a lot of places and had a lot of love love so just Good luck. Well, that's awesome.
I got this extra large T shirt when I was two years old from the circus. And I still have it to this day and I still wear it very often that one has probably gotten a lot of wear.
So I can imagine how large that was. If you got it when you were two. Is that what she said?
Yeah, it was a night gown for a while.
Funny. Alright, these get a little easier here towards the end. What's your favorite season?
Oh, all right. What is your favorite holiday?
Mine's probably Christmas with Halloween a close second. So I like I love Halloween because I like kids dressing up and taking them trick or treating. So I'm kind of in that Halloween is really on top at the moment. But I think as my kids get older, it might not be so
I think Christmas is my favorite holiday. But any of the holidays where you get together with your family are like on the top of my list. The best.
I would probably have to tie Halloween and Christmas. I don't think I can pick a favorite.
All right, we've got a couple of staff that like Halloween as well. So it's always been fun to see their dress up costume. What is your favorite word?
I would have guessed awesome.
I do say awesome. That's, that's basically my, my language.
My favorite word? That was a question?.
Or maybe when you say frequently.
I think it's really important like to say that I'm sorry. Not, you know, in disgenuine ways. But like when someone has like done something, or like you do owe someone an apology of like, that's a very special word. I feel like so that's one that has a lot of deep meaning to me instead of everyday like, Oh, I'm sorry, but you don't have to be sorry. You're just breathing. You know, but the really genuine ones are important.
I think I say the word literally a lot. No, I often stutter over it. So I don't know why I say it all the time. But yeah.
Okay, See, you have to go back and listen to Lexi Johnson's podcast because I swear, that was the same word that she used was literally. I swear someone on staff had said literally as well because I remember saying Rob Lowe has a podcast called literally where he talks with other famous celebrities and it's hilarious, but he literally and that's how he says it is literally is what it's called. So it sticks in my head every time somebody says that word. What is your favorite type of flower?
Probably a hot pink rose.
I think roses are my favorite flower as well. At least to receive from someoneone.
Okay, I always forget what they're called. So you're like they start with a C.
Carnations!They're my favorite flower. They're so basic and everyone doesn't understand. But I think that they're just so beautiful. Especially the ones that are like two toned.
Very good. Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts?
I have my two Starbucks cups here with me.
There you go. Beach or mountains.
Or like both, but I would probably pick the beach.
Heels or sneakers.
That's easy sneakers.
Sarah is thinking
Unknown Speaker 28:51
So hard. Like I love to dress up and like wearing heels. But I feel like sneakers are just so practical for your knees.
So okay, if we're gonna do like what I like more heels make me feel like I can conquer the world. So we're gonna roll with heels
I like that. Alright, and last, what is the most adventurous thing you've ever done?
Hmm, that's a hard one too
And it's the last one.
Thank goodness. I can't think of anything adventurous. I'm not relevant. I mean, I am adventurous, but I can't really think of anything. That's really. I feel like being a leadership consultant was adventurous.
I was wondering if that's what you were gonna say.
Oh, yeah. Especially since I you know, you heard my story about how I went to school in my hometown. So to me that was like major to be able to, like fly around everywhere and go from chapter to chapter so I would probably be my most adventerous thing.
Sarah, how about you?
Yeah, I was also going to say traveling as a consultant was probably one of my biggest Life Adventures. It took me many places, but like as a one time adventure I did bungee jump off the tower one time so.
Wow, I don't know if I could do that I'd be worried cord would break
It had one of those blow up things, you know at the bottom but I don't know.
I survived it was in my youth my young youth, I should say I'm still young?
Yes when you're when you're much more fearless than as you get older
There you go. Kayla, what about you?
Um, I haven't had a lot of adventures but I think one adventurous thing that I've done was during my freshman year of college, it was during finals week, and we were all just kind of done. So in the middle of the night, we decided to go on a drive and we wound up in Missouri, from Indiana. So we went to Missouri, we got McDonald's, and we came home. Oh, it was just the most random, the most spontaneous thing that we did. It was just a car load of us and we all just went so it was it was a really fun, a really fun car ride.
So how long were you in the car to get McDonald's?
Um, I want to say I was like six hours.
Oh, my goodness. That is a very adventurous thing to do.
Awesome. Well, on that note, we are going to wrap up. Thank you all for joining. Welcome to staff. We're thrilled to have you on there and can't wait to see all the awesome things that you guys do for us. So thanks for joining me today.
It was a fun time.
And to our listeners until next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai