Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by one of Phired Up’s interns this semester — Becky Cohen. She and a team of undergraduates are collecting stories to help our readers gain insight into the fraternity/sorority experience, and how we can help share the gift of Greek Life with more deserving people.
A Kappa Delta found her way to becoming University of Nebraska-Lincoln Phi Mu’s house mom after her short-lived undergraduate year in Kappa Delta. I sat down with Erika Kirkland, Phi Mu’s house mom, and some of her girls that have welcomed her into their home with open arms: Frae Binder, Rachel Hruza, and Aly Lerman to hear all of their stories on how they found their way to a place where they all call home. All from different states these women have found themselves all under one roof.
Aly Lerman, originally from Chicago, decided to go through the formal recruitment week to help her with the transition to Nebraska. Formal recruitment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln happens the week before school starts, and is a week long process where the women get a chance to visit each sorority on campus and talk to those women in the sororities.
When the long week was coming to an end on preference day, Aly dropped out of recruitment after visiting just one sorority and deciding this wasn’t the thing for her to do. As Aly started school, Greek life was completely out of her mind, until one of her friends introduced her to Rachel Hruza, the current Phi Mu president. Aly started thinking that Greek was something she could see herself doing, so she signed up for informal recruitment. Informal recruitment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln happens during the school year and is a much more casual experience where the women simply hang out with one another in a more relaxed environment. She was offered a bid to Phi Mu and accepted. Rachel soon became her big. She had a rocky first few months and found herself not really being into the sorority life, but she wanted to stick with it. She was later given the opportunity to become a leader in the sorority by first being historian and moving on to academic chair. Through her leadership involvement she found her way to becoming a dedicated Phi Mu member and now she can’t picture herself without it.
Aly’s big Rachel is originally from Minnesota and always knew she would go through recruitment so she could join a sorority. During the formal recruitment week she was constantly told to “trust the process.” She had no idea what that meant and also no idea what sorority she felt that connection with to join. Her recruitment guide, which is an active member of a sorority that guides the incoming women through recruitment, sat down one night and asked all the girls in the group to guess what sorority she was in. Every girl had a different answer. It wasn’t until this exercise that Rachel realized that there is every type of girl in each sorority, and she could be happy in any sorority. When the week ended Rachel found her way to Phi Mu, but she never had that aha moment during recruitment that made her feel truly connected to Phi Mu. On the following Monday a women in the sorority got engaged and had a candle passing after dinner. It was during the candle passing that she finally saw the sisterhood. She saw that the women were truly happy and supportive of their sister becoming engaged, many were even crying from happiness. During this candle passing Rachel knew she found herself a new home.
Like Aly and Rachel, Frae Binder was also coming from out of state to college. Frae is originally from South Dakota and had no idea what to expect going through formal recruitment. On preference round she ranked Phi Mu second, and when she got her bid into Phi Mu she was devastated she didn’t receive her first choice. Her recruitment guide wasn’t going to let her go through the week only to be upset on bid day and give up, so her recruitment guide talked her into going to bid day at Phi Mu and introduced her to Hope, who later became her big. Hope was the philanthropy chair and later Frae found herself following in her big’s footsteps and becoming philanthropy chair. With the help of her recruitment guide and Hope she found her way to Phi Mu. Each of these women from Phi Mu that I had the opportunity to talk to didn’t necessarily get the sorority they would have pictured themselves in, but throughout the years Phi Mu has become more than they couldn’t have ever imagined. It truly goes to say that each sorority has something to offer to a woman, and brings out the best version of their members.
Unlike Aly, Rachel, and Frae, Erika Kirkland, the house mom at Phi Mu, found her way into her first choice sorority, Kappa Delta. Erika is originally from Lincoln, Nebraska and never thought she would need Greek life, but later on she decided to try out informal recruitment where she joined Kappa Delta. However, her active member status was not long-lived. Erika had a rough start to college and after being a survivor of date rape she found herself needed a break from college so she could focus on her healing. Her friends in Kappa Delta helped her through this rough time and made her feel wanted. Erika believes that sorority helps to enhance your life, even if it is for a short time. The girls in Kappa Delta gave so much to her that she knew when she could she would give back to them. Later on she has now become one of the most active alumni of Kappa Delta and through her alumni involvement in Kappa Delta she found out about the opportunity to be the Phi Mu house mom.
Everyone has a different story about why they decided to join their sorority, and as you can tell from these stories not everybody has an easy recruitment where they get the sorority they thought they wanted. Like Erika said, Sorority help enhances. Each sorority has something to offer, and even though it may not have been the sorority you thought you would end up in, you will eventually realize why you did. In each sorority you will find a variety of women, women from various states, women with different talents and hobbies, and women with different likes and dislikes, but even with all their differences they find themselves all under one roof.