I am a first-generation college student; my parents gave me the gift of education by helping me get to college. My family was very involved in my college application process, we would go on campus tours together and they would listen to me go on and on about the pros and cons of some colleges. They always support me and were ecstatic when I made my decision.
Looking for Community On Campus
Once I started college I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. My school is a predominantly white institution, and I am part of that low percentage of Mexican-American students. I tried to make friends in any way possible. I got involved in student government and became the representative of my class. I also joined multiple clubs and student organizations. Even then, I was struggling to fit in. I would see the fraternal community on campus and be envious of their closeness and friendships.
I had friends that were involved in the fraternal community. We would often hang out and they would tell me about their events and encourage me to sign up for recruitment. Eventually, I did, but I ended up dropping out of the recruitment process. I was overwhelmed by the rules and time commitment. After I left recruitment, I thought I had ruined my chances of being involved.
Luckily in the fall semester of my sophomore year, I received a bid from the Delta Pi chapter of Alpha Delta Pi (ADPi). I had 24 hours to accept/decline/extend my bid and I immediately called my mom and dad to tell them the news. They had no idea what a sorority was, they were convinced that they only existed in movies. So, I got to work gathering information, not only for myself but for my family as well.
Considering all the Options
Sorority turned into “hermandad,” Philanthropy turned into “causa,” big turned into “mentora,” but even then, my family didn’t understand the appeal of a sorority. My father said he could help me pay dues, but he also thought that it was quite pricey. My mother said that I could make it far on my own without needing to join a sorority. They both made good points and I took them into consideration. I already had to pay tuition, and adding dues could be too much. I did become my class representative and president of the legal society on my own.
I sat down and really thought about everything that went into this major decision (after completing my homework, of course). I called my parents with three hours left on the clock and told them what I was thinking. I felt alone on campus and I felt as if I didn’t have a community to back me up. I explained to them that I received an amazing opportunity to be surrounded by women that were not only strong academically but also positive influences. My parents told me to follow my heart and I decided to become a sister.
Investing in Myself
While he supported me, my father was still a little concerned about dues, but analyzing it, we realized that it was not just another expense but an investment. Joining ADPi has given me the opportunity to build my network, grow academically and it has given me the sisterhood of amazing and powerful women.
Now that I have been in my sorority for a while, my mom casually asks me, “Y cuando te vas a tomar mas fotos con las muchas?” or “When will you take more pictures with the girls?” If we are out shopping she says something like “Este pantalón esta bonito para cuando te pongas tu broche.” or “This pair of pants will look so cute for pin day.” My sorority membership has become part of who I am.
My dad was baffled for a while because he was convinced that all sororities were like the ones on TV. So, when I explained to him that we have policies and lead our lives and experiences based on our values, he said he was proud of me for joining a group of respectable women. Now, even my little sisters now say they want to be involved in sorority life when they are in college.
I no longer feel out of place on campus. I actually feel like I have found my place. Being Mexican-American and a first-generation college student at a predominantly white institution is already difficult enough. I did not feel like I was prepared for college. I knew I was ready academically, but not socially. ADPi has given me a place to be myself and to grow.
I have invested in myself and my family can see how happy I am to be a part of sorority life.