I am a Kappa Delta.
Pay careful attention to that sentence. It says “I am a Kappa Delta”, not “I WAS a Kappa Delta”. Last time I checked, there is no expiration date on membership in my sorority.
I was initiated into Kappa Delta sorority at University of Missouri-Rolla (now known as Missouri University of Science and Technology) in October of 1994, when I was a sophomore. A year earlier, joining a sorority was not on my radar. Like a lot of people, I didn’t see the value in it – I figured I was cool enough to make my own friends – I didn’t need to buy any. I also was pretty serious about making good grades and serving in campus leadership positions, and because of the many stereotypes of fraternity and sorority life, I had the impression that being in a sorority would detract from those goals. During my freshman year, I met a lot of Greek students, male and female, from various sororities, and I changed my tune and chose to pledge KD. It was one of the smartest decisions I ever made.
During college, I already was convinced that it was a smart decision to join Kappa Delta. I had the opportunity to serve in many leadership positions, including VP of Pledge Education, open recruitment chair, parliamentarian, and many others. I was exposed to student organizations that I wouldn’t have learned about, such as Blue Key Honor Society and Alpha Phi Omega, and I became more active on campus. I also learned out to deal with living and working with women. This was huge, because for all you might hear about this being a patriarchal society where men try to keep women down, my experience is that women are often nastier to other women than a man ever thought about being. I got some brilliant opportunities and honors during college, including being named St. Pat’s Student Knight and Homecoming Queen – none of which would have happened without sorority leadership experiences and the support of my sisters.
All of that is well and good, and the majority of people I knew who were involved in Greek Life in college have similar stories. But for many, it ends not terribly long after graduation. This is the point at which they start saying thing like “I was a Delta Tau Chi” rather than continuing to embrace their Greek organization membership.
Even though I never spoke of my KD membership in the past tense, I did fall away from it for a while. It wasn’t a very important part of my life once I was a few years out of school – mostly because I was focused on my career and “real life”. I attended a few alumnae association meetings in St. Louis at the encouragement of my sorority sister Tricia (who is now the National KD VP – Alumnae), but after I moved to KC, I didn’t do anything with the sorority for years. I was busy working a bazillion and four hours per week at Cerner initially, and then I added on building a relationship with the guy I ended up marrying. I had exactly one sorority sister I saw regularly – my little, little sister Cori, who happened to live in KC and also worked at Cerner. Other than that, and the occasional visit to Rolla for homecoming, I didn’t think much about my sorority membership. I’m pretty sure most people thought I’d fallen off the face of the earth.
After a few years passed, I started feeling a little sentimental about things. KD began tugging at my heartstrings ever so slightly. However, because I’d been out of the loop for a long time, even though I loved my sorority and my sisters I knew Back In The Day, I actually felt a little embarrassed about trying to reconnect – so for the most part, I didn’t. Instead, I continued to focus on my career and (by this time) my marriage.
Then my whole world changed. My husband died.
By this point, I had discovered Facebook, and had a fair number of KDs in my friends list, but hadn’t really re-incorporated any of them in my day to day life. I was crushed with grief and with the eleventy-billion practical and emotional details of losing a spouse so I didn’t think much about any of my Kappa Delta friends. But by gum, they thought about me. Lifelong sisterhood and friendship presented itself in spectacular fashion. Two sisters, Tricia and Olivia – who I had literally not seen or spoken to in years except for nice words on facebook walls – sent me two dozen of the KD flower (white rose). And even more surprising, a couple of sisters who live in the KC area that I had not seen since leaving Rolla came to Andy’s funeral. They heard about his death via facebook, figured out where the funeral was, and showed up.
It took a little while to come up for air and deal with matters after Andy died, but I’m now regularly involved in Kappa Delta. On the volunteer side, I just started my fourth semester on the Chapter Advisory Board for the chapter at MST, and my first semester as the Chairman of that board. I enjoy working with the collegiate members immensely – even when they test my patience because they are learning how to lead. On the personal side, I’m enjoying renewed friendships with several college friends. In the last year, I’ve taken 4 trips with KDs – Chicago, Aruba, Rome, and Miami – and have attended more MST KD events. I also renewed a college friendship with a KD from MU who lives in the KC metro area. And this year, for the first time since 1995, I’m planning to attend Kappa Delta’s biennial convention.
Sorority life looks a little different at 38 than at 19 – more permanent, and simultaneously more serious, because problems in life get more complex as you get older, and more fun – because age loosens people up to enjoy experiences more. I’m happier now that I decided to take this ride than I was in October 1994.
“And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1st Corinthians 13:13