Convention Memories and Reflections

in General News, RT&J

By Kay Gomillion Elam, Sigma Delta (Huntingdon College), Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee

I recently attended the Alpha Omicron Pi 2023 International Convention in Grapevine, TX with several hundred collegiate and alumnae sisters. It wasn’t my first convention—it was my tenth—but it may have been my favorite.

Of course, there’s the obvious reason of connecting with so many sisters after the Pandemic and the many changes AOII had to make to remain relevant to its members. A local chapter, Rho Omicron, won the JWH Cup, the highest collegiate chapter honor. My alumnae chapter was named a Chapter of Excellence. But there were other things that made it memorable.

I roomed with someone I met at my very first convention in 1975. We’d lost touch until the virtual convention in 2021 when she reached out after attending a presentation I did. As it turns out she has a son who lives near me. She visits him several times a year, allowing us to renew our bonds of friendship.

Also, all but one of my RT&J sisters attended convention, and we oversaw the logistics of the ritual related events—a daunting but exhilarating task. Our first event was the beautiful Service for Candle Lighting at Convention where each chapter’s name, university/college, and submotto were revealed by its chapter president or, in the case of closed chapters, someone else representing it. The service ended with the 214 participants circling the room, showering it with candlelight. The Ritual for Initiation combined with the Ritual for Opening Convention followed, and four lovely women were initiated into our order. On the final day of convention, our Memorial Ritual, Installation of International Officers, and Ritual for Closing Convention were combined for an unforgettable experience.

Another thing that made this convention special for me was the election and installation of our new International President, Susan Bonifield. I met Susan when she was a collegian at Nu Beta (Ole Miss), and I was their Regional Director (think Network Specialist today). During the three years I worked with NB, Susan, her chapter advisor, Melody Gholson, and I became close friends. Through the 30+ years that followed, we’ve gotten together several times a year for spa days, destination trips, or to just hang out in PJs and watch movies. What makes this so special is that without AOII it is doubtful our paths would have crossed. We were born in three different decades, went to three different universities/colleges, and have never lived in the same state.

Finally, at the Rose Banquet on the last night of convention, I gazed across the room and pondered the wonder of these many intelligent, loving, and beautiful women, all in the same place at the same time. These women were born in eight different decades, attended different universities/colleges, and live all over North America. I was overcome with awe and emotion as we sang the Epsilon Chapter Song and I had a personal Ritual Moment where I thanked my lucky stars that I belong to AOII, and that AOII belongs to me.

You may contact the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) about anything Ritual-related at RT&

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