ZTA Convention 2018 Recap

By Brantley Taylor

A couple weeks ago I had the honor of attending the National Convention for Zeta Tau Alpha in Orlando, FL. I was accompanied by our recruitment chair, Alexa Wagner, and one of our upcoming leaders, Jenna Anderson. Going into the week I had no idea what to expect being surrounded by so many women from such a variety of backgrounds, but all tied together by the common thread of Zeta. It ended up being one of the greatest experiences I have had through our sorority.

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If you don’t know what Convention is, I’ll try and paint a picture for you. Imagine hundreds of women ages 18-80+, lots of cheering, even more crowns, and the celebrities of Zeta themselves, the national council. I soon realized that Zeta might be the most extra sorority when I saw that even the room keys were specialized to have the convention logo on them. Putting aside all of the bells and whistles though, convention helped me to realize how blessed I am to be in charge of the Delta Psi chapter.

I’ll be honest, I was intimidated going into the week based on the fact that there were huge state schools like FSU, Alabama, and Georgia in attendance and I didn’t know how a small private Christian school like Samford was supposed to stack against them. However, I quickly learned that it’s not the size of the school or the chapter that matters, it’s how your chapter is run and the quality of the girls in the chapter.

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Delta Psi ended up winning an Academic Achievement Award for our overall chapter GPA, a Quota Award for reaching quota set by nationals the past two years, and a Major Donor Award for reaching Founders Club Level by donating over $25,000 to our philanthropy. On top of these awards we also won Crown Chapter Award! We have been blessed enough to have received this award for the past couple years and are so proud to continue the streak. This helps prove to us that what we do matters and every event we have is worth it in the end.

The single greatest moment, however, was the night of the Silver Awards Banquet. Silver Awards the highest esteemed awards given to chapters across the nation for exceeding expectations and being the best of the best chapters in a variety of areas. Delta Psi hadn’t won a Silver Award in the past 10 years, so going into the night I admittedly was more excited for the dinner being served rather than watching all of these other chapters winning awards while we clapped graciously. Then came a moment that really blindsided me. Just about the time when they were reading off the description of the chapter who was winning 1st Runner Up for Collegiate Public Relations I was thinking, “Hey that’s not fair we do all of the same things that this chapter they’re about to call does.” Of course right after that thought crossed my mind, they called Delta Psi, Samford University up to the stage as the winners. We all just sat there at first not recognizing that we were indeed the winners, until Jenna said, “Hey! That’s us!” and we all ran to the stage to accept it. This is a huge milestone for Delta Psi, breaking a decade-long dry spell.

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I am so thankful to be in charge of a group of girls who work harder, do more, and seek to be better every year. It’s moments like those that give you clarity into why you do what you do. Convention also taught me the meaning behind, “Zeta is forever”. Being in college it’s hard to imagine the sorority itself being something that’ll last you past the four years you’re in it. The friendships, yes, but the sorority? Well, let me tell you Convention puts it all into perspective. You see that Zeta is so much bigger than just your own chapter. It’s easy to get so narrow-minded and focus solely on what you are doing, but when you zoom out of that view and see what the other 170 collegiate chapters and 238 alumnae chapters are doing as well you get a better appreciation for Zeta as a whole. You’re able to realize that Zeta matters, what we do in our sorority matters, but what we contribute to the overarching organization matters even more. We are young women, given the opportunity to make a difference. I’m beyond proud of my chapter and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Delta Psi long after I’m finished being president. I’m also so proud I get to call myself a Zeta Tau Alpha.

 

A Zeta’s Guide to Studying Abroad: Greece

Who: Kylee Shanaghan
Where: Greece
When: Jan Term
Course: Greece: The Crucible of Civilization

The Class:  “This was an option for me to take as a humanities course, it was actually less expensive to take the abroad class than take a humanities class on campus during Jan Term (plus I wanted to go because of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants!). The actual course material gave a lot of backstory to the places we were going, so we knew what we were looking at. One thing that is really amazing about this particular trip is that you get to see so much of Greece. In many abroad programs, you are living in one place for the duration of the class, but with this course, you are only in one place a max of two nights. For us, we started in Athens (which is kind of like a REALLY old New York City), and after that we constantly moved around to new places. We split our time between the main land locations and the little islands off the coast.”

 

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Favorite Spots: “My two favorite places by far were the little island of Aegina (pronounced egg-in-a), and the seaport town of Nafplion. These two places are both quaint little locations that have less tourists and lots of breathtaking views of the water. In Aegina, you MUST try the pistachio butter that the venders are selling at the port. I was apprehensive and only got a small jar, and now I’m crying because it’s all gone and it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted in my life (so get the big jar). In Nafplion you should wander around (it’s small and very safe) to see what fun things there are going on. After dinner one night we stumbled upon a street carnival and played bumper cars! It’s one of my all-time favorite memories, but you won’t find that in a travel brochure so you need to explore in the places you go! Another really fun thing we did was eat at this family-owned restaurant where they taught you all the Greek dances. We ate incredible food family style, then we danced for hours as everyone smashed plates and yelled “OPA!”, there are lots of these kinds of places in Greece, and you should definitely do some research to find one while on this trip!”

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Best Foods: “My top favorite foods I ate while in Greece would have to be the Pistachio butter, the fried feta cheese, and the gyro sandwiches. Let me tell you, if you are a fan of Greek food, after this trip nothing in America will ever measure up to the real thing. Some tips I would give about going on this trip is to pack layers, it’s hot during the day and super cold at night! You also need to be prepared to hike up a mountain one of the days (don’t wear a wool sweater like me). If you are worried about looking cute in pics on days where hiking is involved, bring some extra stuff in a backpack to put on for the pictures! You need to be prepared with cash as most places do not take card, you also need to keep in mind that you cannot split the check when eating in groups at restaurants. One person will need to pay the bill and the rest of the group will pay them back, so keep groups small! In general, I did not have to pay for many meals, we ate as a group most days and that fee is paid with the program tuition. I paid for maybe 8-10 meals on the 3-week trip. Technically they say you can get away with bringing no cash on this trip, which I guess is true, but you want money for souvenirs and last-minute things (like bumper cars!).”

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“Overall, this trip was the best experience of my life. I went into it knowing absolutely no one, and came out with some of the most meaningful friendships in my life.  So, whether or not you know anyone on this trip, or know anything at all about Greece, this trip is sure to be one of the most incredible experiences of your life!”

 

Creed Devotional: To look for the good in everyone

Not going to lie, it was hard to sit down and write this one. Not because I don’t believe that this is important, but because looking for the good in someone can be a hard thing to do sometimes.

“To look for the good in everyone” ZTA Creed 

As a kid, when I was told to look for the good in people, I thought it meant not to call them mean names. But as I grew up, and as my relationships grew up with me, I realized that thinking the best of someone isn’t just to contradict bullying, or keeping someone’s feelings from getting hurt (though valid reasons). When we think badly of someone it isn’t always an intentional, mean thought. We don’t go around criticizing everyone we see, but we do analyze their words and actions towards us.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”Ephesians 4:31 – 32 ESV

I don’t think we usually set out to think poorly of someone. Actually, I don’t think we even realize that we are doing it. It’s almost as if we start on the defensive- guarding ourselves against this person who has yet to do anything wrong. Most of the time we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

Usually, this stems from feelings of rejection and hurt. At some point in our lives we learned that not everyone will like us or be kind to us. And from these lessons, we changed how we react to other people. We started to operate out of a place of hurt and rejection rather than love and acceptance.

One of my favorite authors, Lysa TerKeurst, wrote:

“To love God is to cooperate with His grace. And since I’m so very aware of my own need for grace, I must be willing to freely give it away. Each hole left from rejection must become an opportunity to create more and more space for grace in my heart.” Lysa TerKeurst, ‘Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely’

So how do we change our perspectives and begin to live with grace in our hearts?

By being intentional with not only our actions towards one another (let’s not forget the golden rule now) but also our thoughts.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”Philippians 4:8-9 ESV
“And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear.”Isaiah 11:3 ESV
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”Proverbs 4:23 ESV

Let’s look for the good in everyone. Let’s stop the cycle of judgment and fear. And most of all, let’s see others how God sees us; with grace, love, and kindness.