AOII Friends Beyond College
by Koren Phillips, Phi Chi (U of Chicago), International Vice President
The holiday season is upon us! In the hectic time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it’s easy to lose focus on what matters the most to you and yours. This season, I am taking a pause to reflect on how grateful I am for AOII and the friendships I’ve made along the way. I’m particularly grateful for my Boston AOII women, those sisters from disparate chapters who came together to form a family here in Massachusetts. While I treasure my collegiate memories, I hold a special place for the women with whom I really became a “grown up” in my post-grad life.
I unexpectedly moved to Boston from Chicago in the late summer of 2006. My father was profoundly ill, and we both relocated to the city of his youth to seek the best possible care surrounded by our extended family. It’s disruptive and scary when you pick up your life in this manner, and I was desperate for something to call my own and to take my mind off my father’s illness. I immediately thought of AOII and decided to seek opportunities to be involved.
In the span of a few weeks, I magically became the “contact person” (and, eventually, Alumnae Chapter President) for the recently resurrected Boston Alumnae Chapter, and I joined Delta Chapter’s AAC. I found a cadre of committed women with a common bond through AOII. We were young, ambitious and at roughly the same point in our lives. We were all hungry to make new friendships and looking for opportunities to serve. I could not have possibly known at that time how important these women would become to me.
At this point, well over a decade later, we’ve been through it all together. I’ve been delighted to stand up as a bridesmaid several times, to kiss and snuggle new babies (including a few legacies!), to bid adieu to friends as they chase their dreams to another state. And all along, I think about how we would not have found one another if not for AOII. As we’ve grown up in our lives, so too have we grown up in AOII. These women continue to inspire me as servant leaders to our beloved Fraternity. We serve the Executive Board, Properties Board, International Standing Committees and the Network. We are each other’s best cheerleaders and strongest advocates in all things in life.
This holiday season, I’m humbled and grateful for the gift of AOII – and especially for the sisters I’ve found along the way, outside of the constraints of our chapters of initiation. I encourage you all to take time to think about the AOIIs you’ve known who have made a difference in your lives and to tell them how much they mean to you! So, to A, K, L, L and M: I’m so grateful for you and for all the joy, friendship and love you’ve brought to my life. Happy holidays to everyone!