We Must Be So Different, Right?
by Brittany Wagner, Xi (U of Oklahoma), 2017-2018 Educational Leadership Consultant
It never fails. When I show up for my first day with a chapter, I get the same question over and over again: “I bet it is so interesting getting to see how completely different every chapter is from another, right? We must be so different.”
I commend Alpha Omicron Pi on its 121 years of providing such a unique experience to women all over the United States and Canada; however, my answer to this question isn’t what you’d expect. As a collegiate member, I prided myself so much on the fact I was part of such an incomparable organization and my sisters were the home that I was somehow blessed to be matched with during that recruitment at the University of Oklahoma. I always compared the chapter I was initiated at to all the other chapters within AOII. I always assumed that because AOII was so special, that each chapter must have had so many differences from each other.
Although I have to agree, just like an individual, each chapter has its unique flair that makes my job so exciting. I think you’d be more amazed, though, with how similar the chapters are to one another.
Imagine walking into 26 other chapters, some brand new, some more than 100 years old; some with less than 50 members, and some with well over 400; 13 states, 6 Networks, countless LC and AAC member meetings, I had the chance to work with roughly 4,100 members, and still one thing continues to amaze me:
AOII collegiate chapters are much more similar than you’d initially believe. Despite where I have gone, or whom I have sat down with, I am continually impacted by the simple fact that I have never failed to be welcomed, encouraged, complimented, challenged or trusted by members of AOII. Although, yes, chapters can be unique in comparison to one another – I am even more intrigued by the fact that each chapter I have been with shares so many similarities to the next.
I continue to play matchmaker with all the amazing personalities that I know would be best friends, despite being multiple states away and at completely different campuses with different cultures. Interestingly enough, I have even found a few doppelgangers! I find leaders with similar struggles and concerns – but the ability to lead with humility and grace despite any of it. I see chapters come together, wanting to better educate themselves in order to make the chapter more successful in philanthropy, recruitment or leadership. I hear members share with each other their moments of happiness and sorrow and watching as members uplift them. Whether it be a chapter in Wisconsin, Florida or Pennsylvania, when we as collegiate members stay true to what our favorite little red book shows us, we continue to recruit like-minded women, and it shows because AOII has the ability to develop women who feel comfortable with their ideas and personalities, and somehow, we all fit together.
A word to the chapters who allowed me to call their chapter home (if even for a week): Thank you! Thank you for constantly reminding me that what holds us together is not only the friendship we share, but the motto that provides a guide to everything we do; the Rituals of Alpha Omicron Pi have never held such a significant place in my heart as they do now, and I hope you will continue to let it lead the operations of each chapter. It might provide you some insight on how similar you may be to the chapter around the corner or around the country – and the alumna member who makes a visit, unknowingly being impacted by each and every member that reminds her of the common purpose of this organization.