Each year our College Panhellenic president has the opportunity to produce a passion project during her term. The passion project is intended to allow her to share her passion with the entire Panhellenic community. As president for the 2020-21 academic year, I saw how tired the sorority women were from being in the middle of the semester while facing a pandemic. These women had shown me support when I needed it the most and I wanted to do the same for them. I became passionate about giving them the ability to better themselves and have something to look forward to. For my passion project, I decided to do things differently and share unique opportunities and resources with the Panhellenic women on campus.
After surveying each sorority chapter asking them to share their passions with Panhellenic, the series “Dynamic Women: Diverse Passions” was founded. We wanted to showcase the most prevalent and beneficial passions through a week of events. Our College Panhellenic worked together to select one prevalent passion from each sorority on campus, making these events directly reflective of the very population it serves. We ended up with a series of five events to help women on campus improve their mental health, take control of their lives, think about our relationship with food and learn to defend themselves. To end the week, we held an all-women formal to raise money for the local foster care system.
We worked one-on-one with the women who shared their ideas to ensure our collaboration brought their passions into reality through these events. This process brought us closer together as a Panhellenic community, learning about each other’s strengths, where we can improve and how we can support one another. There were a plethora of great passions to choose from and we were excited to host events that were meaningful to our Panhellenic women.
Mental Health Monday
The first event, Mental Health Monday, was the prevailing passion on the survey. We interviewed Zeta Tau Alpha member, Peyton McNamee, about why she was passionate about mental health awareness. She stated, “As someone who battles with mental illness daily, it’s important to me to break the stigma and educate people on mental health. It is so much more than anxiety and depression and you do not have to be diagnosed to have a bad mental health day. It is important to empower people to take charge of their self-care and learn to identify the signs and set healthy boundaries for themselves as well as others.” We did research on the topic of mental health and spoke with other respondents about what kind of event would be most beneficial. We decided on an event that would allow women to unwind and take care of their mental health. Mental Health Monday entailed painting while discussing coping mechanisms and bystander intervention.
Personal Growth Tuesday
The second event, Personal Growth Tuesday, was chosen because there were women who were passionate about becoming the best version of themselves. “Self-growth is something I prioritize in my daily life. There’s always something I can improve on, and that is what I strive to do every day. It makes me a better person, and it also has a positive impact on everyone around me,” said Tri Delta member Sally Masucci. Dr. Ginney Norton, assistant professor for the School of Education and Child Development, to moderate a discussion on personal growth. Personal Growth Tuesday involved women learning more about their identity, being vulnerable with each other and inspiring them to take action. What stuck with those who attended the most was when Dr. Norton said, “You cannot grow without feeling uncomfortable. If you push away discomfort, I’m telling you you’re not growing.”
Nutrition Know-How Thursday
The third event, Nutrition Know-How Thursday, was centered around healthy eating patterns while in college. Lexi Johnson, a member of Pi Beta Phi, collaborated with us on her passion to make this event what it was. She stated, “I believe balance with nutrition and exercise is incredibly important to find. Maintaining healthy eating patterns is something that I have personally struggled with and I know many of my peers can relate. I am so excited to get together and talk about this seeing how crucial it is especially during these formative years of our lives.” The event involved charcuterie board-making while learning to trust our hunger and make peace with food. The sororities enjoyed sharing their favorite yummy snacks with each other.
The fourth event, Self-Defense Friday, was created to increase the women’s knowledge of risk reduction and self-defense as they received hands-on training. Kappa Delta member, Gabriella Wuller, submitted self-defense because as she stated, “I believe it is important for all women to feel safe in all regards. And although a self-defense class is one small step, it’s a step in the right direction to build each and every woman’s confidence and empowerment knowing measures you can take to feel safer in your community.” Sorority women were able to practice self-defense techniques with a professional who teaches women empowered programs through the use of jiujitsu.
Celebration of Empowerment
The fifth event, an all-women formal, was an end-of-the-week celebration of empowerment through food, drink and dance. Tri Delta member, Molly Jackson, showcased to us exactly what the foster care system meant to her. Molly stated, “As a former foster family, I have seen first hand the conditions children come from when they are placed in the foster care system and how the system works. It is not always pretty. I think every child deserves the chance to grow up in an environment where they can flourish, and that can only happen if people are willing to put in time, effort and work into the foster care system. My life has personally been changed for the better by the children I have known in foster care and I can only hope my family did the same for them.” Her statement moved us so much we decided to host the formal with a $5 entry fee which was then donated to the local foster care system.
When I think back to what I value most about my sorority experience I can always relate that value back to a person. These events reminded me feelings of connection are what make an event outstanding. Incorporating feelings of interaction and engagement into the planning process is what made the difference in how the sororities experienced the event.
Overall, these events would not have been possible without the help of my council. What made these events great were the women who attended and contributed, knowing they are passing on what they learned through their newfound strength to their peers. I cannot wait to see the impact these events had on our campus community.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to share your passions with us. We loved getting to know more about you. This week reminded us once again that women of Panhellenic are courageous, talented and brilliant.