Four years ago I watched my beautiful baby girl walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma. My mind was filled with so many thoughts and emotions. I thought about that first day of kindergarten when, just like every other parent, I hoped that her first day of school would be amazing and wonderful. I hoped that she would make friends easily, pay attention to her teachers and that she would be happy. As I sat through her graduation ceremony, I had all of those thoughts and more. As I struggled to reconcile the fact that my little girl was graduating from high school, I couldn’t help thinking how fast the years had gone by and wondered if we had done our job as parents to ensure that she would have a successful future. I wondered if we had passed-on the type of values that would help her make good choices. I wondered if we had modeled philanthropy and a deep appreciation for community. I wondered if we had taught her the importance of recognizing her self worth and appreciating the worth of those around her. And most of all…. I wondered how she would manage without us when she went on to college. Had I known then that fate would place her in the welcoming arms of the Chi Omega family, I would have rested easier that night.
Cassidy transferred to the University of Iowa as a sophomore after spending her freshman year at Boise State University. Even though she had grown up in Iowa, the transition was difficult. She missed the friends she had made in Idaho; she missed being a Boise State cheerleader; and she missed the small feel of the Boise State campus. While she didn’t say it specifically, we knew she was second guessing her decision to transfer to Iowa. She seemed sad and withdrawn and we struggled to know what to say or how to help. I was cautiously optimistic when she said she was planning to rush a sorority. While I was hopeful that the bustle of activity might help break her out of the unhappy rut she was in, I was also concerned that a sorority would take too much time away from school. Who could have guessed that instead of taking time away, the experience would only work to enhance Cassidy’s college experience and leave her with a lifetime of memories.
Cassidy was thrilled to join the Chi Omega Sisterhood! She loved the girls, the house, and everything that Chi Omega stood for. As parents, we were thrilled to find out that she was joining a sorority that had the top GPA for several years in a row! In addition, we were so happy to see how her Sisters had embraced her and helped make Iowa feel a little smaller. We noticed a change for the better in her demeanor. We couldn’t have been happier when she started getting the sparkle back in her eye and living each day with purpose.
The last three years have flown by as fast as the high school years, but Chi Omega has done it’s best to pack a lifetime of lessons, memories and friendships into those years. The opportunities for personal growth and development have been numerous. Chi Omega’s influence has gone beyond what is taught in the classroom. The life skills Cassidy has learned in Chi Omega will stay with her forever.
Since 2002, Chi Omega’s alliance with Make-A-Wish has served to reinforce one of the founding principles of the Sisterhood which is service to others. The alliance has provided lessons too numerous and profound to quantify. Reaching out and working with families that are facing constant struggle has had a grounding and humbling effect on those seeking to help. Being involved with Make-A-Wish has taught Cassidy that no matter how discouraging her day might seem or how bad she might feel, there is always someone fighting a bigger battle. And while watching the struggles of others can feel hopeless, participating in Dance Marathon has illustrated how rallying together for a positive cause can bring about change in the lives of others.
The Chi Omega/Make a Wish alliance has provided a wealth of lessons and has had a deep impact, yet it is only one of the many learning opportunities Chi Omega has provided.
Living in the Chi O house has taught her about community and how everyone must do their part to keep the community thriving.
The Mom’s day and Dad’s day celebrations have taught her to reflect and appreciate those who have supported her dreams and endeavors.
The weekly recurring meetings have taught her the value of structure and organization.
The Chi Omega family not only opened her eyes to the opportunities that Iowa provides but also the infinite opportunities that lie ahead of her.
We have had the great privilege of watching Cassidy and her Sisters grow both personally and professionally over these last few years. We are thankful for the guidance and structure that Chi Omega has provided and its dedication to integrity, friendship, sense of purpose and the pursuit of personal and professional excellence.
Soon I will watch my baby girl walk across the stage to receive her college diploma. I’ll watch with great admiration of the intelligent, compassionate and caring young woman that she has become. Again, I will be filled with emotions and questions about her future but I will rest easy knowing that we did the best job we could as parents to ensure that she would have a successful future. I will also be forever grateful to Chi Omega for picking up where we left off… conveying the type of values that would help her make good choices…modeling philanthropy and a deep appreciation for community... teaching the importance of self worth and the worth of those around her. And most of all…. I will be thankful that fate placed her in the welcoming and loving arms of Chi Omega.
- Debbie McDowell
Chi Omega has been a wonderful experience for Ashley. During the past four years, we have seen Ashley become more interested in how she can make a difference in the world. She has become very independent and thoughtful. Not only has Chi Omega guided Ashley with her personal and career development, she now strives for academic excellence and continual improvement. She has changed her professional goals to teach artwork that will help children express themselves. She has become committed to serving others by volunteering, not just for Make-A-Wish but for others that may be in need.
Chi Omega has challenged her to be the best she can be: to put others first; to pursue friendships with those that need a friend; to continually think before making judgements. Our very shy child that would never go or do anything without a friend or family member is now a strong conversationalist, very funny, adventurous and outgoing! Chi Omega has made her into a strong, confident woman, with integrity. We are confident that by living and learning the Chi Omega Symphony, Ashley has now found a sense of purpose. Her Chi O house, her Chi O friends and her Chi O experiences have changed Ashley to be the best she can. She will make a difference in the lives of those that need that extra hug. She will make a difference in the greater good of the community. Chi Omega will be in her heart forever; and because of that fact, she will have a bright future!
- Diana Willits