March 29, 2017

The Power of Legacy

It is crowded on the main staircase and all of my sisters are wearing blue dresses that range from carolina to cobalt. I am squeezing the waist of the sister beside me and the tip of my heel is resting on the calf of the sister directly in front of me. We are all getting ready to smile and preparing to walk down the staircase as one like a cascading waterfall and not like a rippled wave. There is a knock at the door and the recruitment chair opens it just enough for a recruitment counselor to slide a hand decorated clipboard through. The clipboard contains a hundred names of potential new members who are waiting in the Florida summer heat on the front steps of 123 N. Copeland, eager to come inside.

“Jones, Siedman, Colella, out of line,” our recruitment chair calls up the stairs after looking over the all of the names on the clipboard. “Joura, Putnam, Stelter, legacies!”

As our recruitment chair calls my name, my heart begins to pound in my chest and the smile on my face becomes real, no longer rehearsed. Because she is an Alpha Phi legacy, the young woman that I am about to meet has more in common with me than she knows.

A few years ago, I was late into my terrible teens and dying to run off to college at Florida State, a thousand miles away from home. I craved the independence that comes with being a collegiate. Unlike most parents, my mom wasn’t worried about me, especially because she had already signed me up for formal recruitment. She knew that I would soon belong to a chapter, a sisterhood of more than two hundred women who would have my best interest in mind. They would take care of me the way her Alpha Phi sisters took care of her at Penn State.

I am definitely my mother’s daughter, but I was eager to be my own person. The power of legacy didn’t quite click in my head until I went to Alpha Phi on skit day of recruitment. On stage, four sisters met for brunch; the youngest sister was about to go to college and her biological sisters were trying to persuade her to go through recruitment. Each of the three multi-talented older sisters—a singing southern belle, a brainiac dancer, and an all-star fashionista—had been a member of Alpha Phi. Despite their differences, they all found a home there and thrived, becoming the best versions of themselves. This skit alleviated any qualms I was having about joining the same sorority as my mom.

All of that week, my mom stayed unbiased. We’d talked every night about the amazing women I was meeting, about the involvement opportunities I was learning about, and about how excited I was not only for bid day, but my first day of college. I kept it a secret until bid day that I knew I wanted to be my mom’s sorority sister because I knew I could still be my own independent self, creating my own experiences and also strengthen our bond. On bid day, my mom could barely hold in her excitement on the receiving end of the phone call as I told her that I was a new member at the Gamma Phi chapter of Alpha Phi. We have always been close, but becoming sorority sisters has brought us so much closer. My mom has always been my mother first, but she was also my first role model and my first friend. Now, she is my sister. My mom has walked the same walk as me and it is an absolute honor to follow her footsteps!

The multi-generational legacies in Alpha Phi are ones to truly treasure. At the Gamma Phi chapter, there are many sets of biological sisters sharing incredible experiences. Many women, like me have Alpha Phi mothers and others also have Alpha Phi grandmothers. In Alpha Phi, legacy isn’t just tradition, it is an extended family. For this reason, chapters even initiate the unaffiliated mothers of Alpha Phi sisters so they can experience the incredible bond between Alpha Phi sisters and grow together. The power of the Alpha Phi legacy is in the celebration of sisterhood. Each generation of women contributing to this legacy is what makes Alpha Phi so timeless!

Sydney Stelter is a member of the Gamma Phi chapter at Florida State University. To read more about her, click here.

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