by Gabby Jackson, Xi (U of Oklahoma), 2020-2021 Educational Leadership Consultant
Carry-ons stowed, headphones in, seatbelts on, and mini pretzels in hand. A year ago this would have been what hundreds of sisters were doing in preparation for Leadership Academy. However, COVID-19 had other plans. For a while, we questioned what role AOII had in our lives during one of the most changing and challenging moments in time. But as in-person events turned to Zoom meetings and masks became a staple in your wardrobe, AOII was able to adapt. Everyone began to become curious. Curious about what AOII would look like, how events would happen and if bonds could even be formed over this new app called “Zoom.” Days turned to weeks and then months, but one thing remained constant—AOII. A virtual Leadership Institute was just the start of the amazing things that would be accomplished through a virtual setting.
When January 2021 came, links were sent out, computers were fully charged and Virtual Leadership Academy was about to begin! Throughout the weekend thousands of new officers were able to collaborate while their advisors went through various education tracts. Officers were separated by positions and were able to learn about how to be leaders and how to effectively guide their chapter. Alpha Assignments allowed smaller groups of officers to collaborate and talk through pretend scenarios they might face in their own chapter. Having Leadership Academy through Zoom allowed for more members to attend which resulted in the largest Leadership Academy ever! There are many things that COVID-19 has taken but it has also given us the amazing opportunity to reach more sisters and share more ideas with those we might not have met before.
As an ELC, I was able to see many women I had met in the previous semester at Leadership Academy. I saw women who had previously shared with me that they were thinking about an officer position but did not know if they could handle it. Seeing them diligently taking notes, asking questions, and brainstorming ways to improve their chapter truly shows how amazing and strong the women of Alpha Omicron Pi are. At the end of Leadership Academy 2021, the ELC team headed off to our on-site locations. As a team, we are all stationed at AOII houses across the US to safely help our chapters during this year. The bonds that I have made with the women I live with are memories and friendships I will cherish forever. From early morning coffees to late-night Taco Bell runs, AOII has allowed me to create even stronger bonds with collegians who have changed my life for the better.
Being an ELC was the perfect opportunity to give back to the organization that gave me so much. To the sisters at Xi that encouraged me to apply or sat with me for hours reading and rereading my application, thank you. To the sisters, I have met during my visits thank you for being you and showing me a million more reasons why I love being apart of Alpha Omicron Pi. To a safe and ever-changing semester, let’s get started!