Alpha Chi Omega has impacted my life in so many ways – sisters whose weddings I’ve been in who I know I will be close to for the rest of my life, opportunities professionally that I never could have imagined, and exposure to diversity and a world outside of the small midwestern town I grew up in that inspired me to travel the country. My own biological sister even joined Alpha Chi while I was still a student and we talk about our time living in the house, eating Anita’s cookies, and sleeping in the cold dorm all the time.

Most importantly though, I think in so many ways Alpha Chi Omega saved my life. In my first job after college, I worked for the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation. It’s ironic (and perhaps serendipitous) that in my entire time working for the foundation I was in an abusive relationship. I was travelling the country, visiting alumnae and chapters talking about the importance of our programs to end domestic violence while at the same time going home to my partner and experiencing just that.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see all the signs I missed – okay I totally ignored them – but my co-workers were either fully aware or had some idea that I was not in a good place. Every single person – Kathleen Tucker, Madeline Plesac, Marsha Grady, Kim Phillips, Courtenay Grass, Rachel Haley (and so many more) – played a critical role in my ability to leave that relationship. As we know most victims of domestic violence make several attempts at leaving before they can finally cut ties permanently. For me, it took three attempts. And every single time I would remember things my co-workers at Alpha Chi had said to me, small comments that might have not have seemed like a big deal to them at the time, but they were critical in giving me the strength to leave.

With this experience behind me I’m now in a happy, healthy relationship – and I’m getting married in May! But to this day, I’m not sure any of them know just how important they are to my life. Every time I have a moment of happiness, or a feeling of love with my new partner, I think of how grateful I am to have had this army of real, strong women in my corner. They gave me the strength to live the life I have now.