Monday, February 23, 2009

3 Students, 1 Great Conference!

Northeast Greek Leadership Association
Hartford, CT - 2009

Being chosen to go to NGLA, was both exciting and nerve racking--this was the first time that our school was attending in quite a few years. But as soon as we arrived, I knew it was going to be a great experience. During the first night at Playfair, I realized that there are so many more organizations out there than just the ones that we have on campus but we are all connected by our passion and love for Greek life.

On the second day, the first speaker, Lori Hart Ebert, really set the tone for the whole day. She got me to realize that a leader doesn’t have to hold a position. A leader is just someone who is able to “affect positive change for the betterment of others, the community and society. All people, in other words, are potential leaders.” If all the members of our organizations believed in this, each chapter would be able to strive and continue to grow to be the best it can be. Lori also stressed the importance of our core values. We all joined an organization, not just because we liked the people, but because we believe in the values that those organizations upheld. She wants us to go back to our chapters and pick out those few members that are just on the roster and tell them they stink and hope that it puts a fire under their butt to either get more involved, or get out.

The rest of the day we spent time talking about the core values of all organizations—scholarship, service, and leadership. I was able to listen to what other organizations around the northeast do with their organizations, which gave me ideas to bring back to Bridgewater in hopes of making our chapters better and stronger. During this time we got to know the people in our break out groups and discuss the successes of our organizations. I turned the girl next to me and sure enough, not only was she in Gamma Phi Beta at Colgate, but she was Ashley Kirby’s cousin. That was something that meant so much to me. It made me aware of the fact that we are all more connected to each other than we think.

The last day was the one that impacted me the most. The speaker that morning, Dave Westol, told a chilling and eye opening story about the hazing that he had to endure when he pledged. He now goes around to different schools and puts “Hazing on Trial.” Whether you had to endure hazing or not when you new membered your organization, his speech really hit home for everyone in that room. We were all silent and his words made us angry. We never wanted anyone ever to go through an experience like that ever again.

We then proceeded to go to different seminars for the rest of the day. Each seminar was one that I felt our Greek life, and more importantly my chapter, would be able to gain knowledge from. I first learned how to bring a sense of class back to all our sorority women. I then learned all about transitions and how important it is to do them correctly and efficiently. After that was one about people who sometimes hated their chapter, because let’s be honest, we all have had that time when we felt that way.

After the third seminar, I went to another speaker—Dave Stollman. He was by far the best part of the day. He spoke of his experience in Greek life and taught about how you are wearing your letters at all times, whether they are worn on your clothing or not. When you stood there and got initiated, you were promising to uphold the values of your organization at all times. And if those values are not where your heart lies, then get out! We do not want people in our organizations if your heart is not really there. So hopefully, Dave will be coming to Bridgewater to impact all the organizations.

I then attended a heartfelt and eye opening seminar about drinking and driving. I know that by me retelling the story it will not have the same effect, but I hope I can at least change the lives of a few people. His presentation about how he killed his 3 best friends is one I will carry with me forever and made me never want to drink again.

Overall NGLA was one of the best experiences of my life. I got the chance to not only meet many Gamma Phi Betas, but I was also able to make lifelong friendships with students from all over the northeast from different organizations. Every seminar that I went to enabled me to acquire different tactics and ideas to bring back to my chapter in hopes of changing for the better. My only hope is that our organizations accept the ideas that all three of us are bringing back. I know that whoever goes to this conference in the future will have an amazing time.

~Janelle Howard
Gamma Phi Beta

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