Mentorship and Support through the Big and Little Relationship

"When I look back on my time being initiated as an official sister of Sigma Delta Tau, the most memorable chapter of my story is meeting my big. Since the day I got my bid, I knew that soon I would be a little to someone who would become such an influential person in my life."

Joining a sorority is like writing a story: each experience you have within the organization is a new chapter added to your narrative of becoming an empowered woman, a leader and a devoted sister. There are endless moments throughout the college career path of a sorority woman that paves the way for a brighter future. Being a part of a sorority is something special because you get to experience the true gift of sisterhood, give back to your philanthropy and witness life through a completely different lens. From recruitment, to bid day, to initiation and everything in between, new sisters come face to face with some of the best memories of their lives.

When I look back on my time being initiated as an official sister of Sigma Delta Tau, the most memorable chapter of my story is meeting my big. Since the day I got my bid, I knew that soon I would be a little to someone who would become such an influential person in my life. If you’re unfamiliar with what a big and a little is, let me explain. A big is someone older in the sorority who will act as a mentor to her little who is a woman that recently joined the chapter. Your big is your uses her experience with college and sorority membership and helps you adjust to being in a sorority, encourages your personal and professional growth and overall, cares for your wellbeing.

Finding the Perfect Match

The search for finding the perfect big and little match can be a long process, but when you meet the right person in your sorority, it just clicks. My big’s name is Mackenzie, and from the moment I met her, I knew she would become my other half within the organization. We had so much in common but still had our differences, which balanced us out in the perfect way. From the start, we obviously shared the common ground of picking the same school, wanting to be a part of the Panhellenic community and joining the same sorority, but after moving past the surface level things we had in common, we were able to learn so much more about each other.

A big sister acts as a role model and an influential figure in your life but also acts as a shoulder to cry on, a voice of reason and a moral compass. Being a little is not necessarily the opposite, but very similar in many aspects. I am my big’s number one fan, and always want to motivate her to succeed. We are able to talk about anything and everything with comfort and ease because the trust factor is omnipresent. To me, this is the most important part of sharing a connection with someone.

I am a firm believer in the notion that people come into your life for a reason and when you need them most. You cross paths with those who will serve a purpose in your life and teach you the things you need to know in that moment. In my case, our big and little reveal took place on one of the hardest days of my life. On March 23, I received a phone call that one of my closest friends who I had considered a little sister had passed away. Later that night, I was blessed with my big sister. Turning around to see her was like a breath of fresh air because it was a moment where I needed her support the most.

The Impact

The importance of the big and little relationship does not have to just last for the four years of college, but for life. A big is such an influential person in their little’s lives, which applies vice versa as well. I obtained quotes from sisters of all ages, sororities and universities to show the everlasting effect that this relationship has.

Dana D., Sigma Delta Tau at Montclair State University

“I would not be the person I am without my big and my little because they both bring out the best in me, and whether or not they realize it, help me love myself. They’re not just fun people that I get food with, they’re the people who ground me, motivate me, and inspire me to do better and be better.”

Tal K., Delta Phi Epsilon at the University of Michigan

“Having a big is like having a big sister, mentor and a role model to look up to. There’s something extremely exciting about having her by your side for any and all questions as you explore all that college has to offer.”

Chloe E., Delta Gamma at the University of Kentucky

“After going through recruitment at the University of Kentucky, I felt a little out of place as I was one of the only girls from the north, and the only girl from New Jersey. My big, Hannah, is from Kentucky and she took me under her wing right from the beginning, telling me the best food places to try, explaining the rivalries our sports teams had and overall made me feel much more at home and comfortable in my environment. When I took my little, Ally, from St. Louis, I made it my mission to do the very same thing as her big.”

Olivia L., Alpha Chi Omega at the University of South Carolina

“The big little relationship has been the most learning and amazing part of being in a sorority so far. As a big, it is a challenge and honor having someone look up to you, and rewarding to teach someone else the ins and outs of your respective chapter.”

Colleen D., Sigma Delta Tau at Montclair State University

“The big and little relationship is what makes being in an organization so special. My Big is a role model to me and someone who inspires me to do great things not only for the sorority but for my life and career as well!”

Ava T., Chi Omega at University of California San Diego

“My big is my forever person. I may not see her every day or even every week, but she’s the one I run to with exciting news, funny stories, when I’m homesick, when I need advice and even when I need to cry. It is a bond like no other I have had before and no matter what, she’ll be my forever person. She’s my family when they’re 3,000 miles away, she’s my guidance through college, she’s my compass.”

The underlying message within everything these women have shared is that this connection is overall uplifting, inspiring and positive. I don’t know where I would be without the constant love and support that my big gives me on a daily basis, and I am so grateful that I am lucky enough to share this bond with her. Whether we are sitting in our room giggling at funny videos, driving around or having those much-needed conversations, she is exactly what I needed in my life. I am confident that after we both graduate and the sorority becomes one of our fondest memories, we will always be big and little, and we will always have each other’s backs.

Note: Every big and little relationship and pairing method is different and may not look exactly the same as Caitlin’s experience. A big should be a mentor for the sorority experience.

Caitlin McQuade

Caitlin is currently seeking a degree in family science and human development from Montclair State University. She is a member of Sigma Delta Tau from the Gamma Xi chapter. In addition to her degree, Caitlin is pursuing a professional career in dance!

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