Announcing Chi Omega’s 2018 Supreme Governing Council Model Initiates

Since 1900, the Governing Council has chosen at least one young woman who upholds the true meaning of Chi Omega, excels in her studies, is loved by her friends, and exemplifies the six purposes to serve as the Supreme Governing Council Model Initiate (SGCMI) at each Convention. For the 2018 Convention, we are thrilled to announce there will be not one, but four Supreme Governing Council Model Initiates. As our chapters have grown and faced challenges with space and time, Convention offers an opportunity to model conducting a meaningful experience for multiple initiates.

The following women have been chosen as the 2018 Convention SGCMIs. They will remain New Members until June and will then be initiated by their Sisters at Convention in Phoenix, AZ. Congratulations to these women, their families and close friends, and the Rho Epsilon/Texas Christin University, Lambda Alpha/University of Kentucky, Psi/University of Arkansas and Kappa Zeta/Texas Tech University chapters!


Emily Calloway, Rho Epsilon | TCU

Rho Epsilon/TCU – Emily Calloway

Emily’s connection to Chi Omega dates back to the founding of our Rho Epsilon Chapter at Texas Christian University. Emily’s grandmother, Joan Glasgow Keeling, was a charter member of Rho Epsilon in 1955 and later served as G.H. Emily’s mother, Kay Keeling Calloway, is also a Rho Epsilon initiate and served as the chapter’s G.M. and G.H.

The chapter wrote the following about Emily in their nomination, “Emily, like the women before her, is a natural leader. Others look up to her, respect her, and seek her out for advice. Her peers know that she is a good listener and a source of wisdom for someone so young. She takes responsibility for her actions and serves as a model of personal integrity. She is driven in all that she does, as she sets goals for herself and works hard to achieve them.”

Lucy Hargis, Lambda Alpha | Kentucky

Lambda Alpha/U of Kentucky – Lucy Hargis

The sisters of Lambda Alpha chapter shared the following when nominating Lucy for the SGCMI honor, “In all she does – in all aspects of her life – she always has the welfare of others at heart. We are so lucky that she chose Chi Omega because she has already demonstrated an interest in making a positive impact on the chapter. Not only does she always have a smile on her face, but she is the kind of person that you know will always listen, while also knowing exactly what to say.”

Lucy has a strong connection to Chi Omega, and, more specifically, our Lambda Alpha chapter. Lucy’s grandmother (Nell Vaughn Broadbent Henderson), mother, (Anne Broadbent Hargis), and biological sister (Caroline Hargis Smith) are all initiates of Lambda Alpha chapter.

Corinne Menz, Psi | Arkansas

Psi/U of Arkansas – Corinne Menz

Corinne’s Sisters shared the following about her in their nomination, “She is driven, she is loyal, she is resilient. From our Symphony, the line that Corinne most embodies is ‘to work earnestly, to speak kindly, to act sincerely’ . . . When aligned with our six purposes, Corinne Menz embodies everything that it means to be a Chi Omega. Corinne is an exceptional leader by example.”

Corinne has many relatives who are Chi Omegas beginning with her great grandmother (Corinne King Laughlin, Psi/U of Arkansas) who was initiated in 1938. In addition, Corinne’s grandmother (Suzanne Laughlin Hawkins, Psi/U of Arkansas), mother (Courtney Hawkins Menz), sister (Mary Mills Menz), aunt (Lisa Ruth Laughlin Pullen), and three cousins (Barbie Hawkins James, Meredith Laughlin Suttle, and Corinne Pullen Skarda) are all initiates of our Psi Chapter. Corinne’s Chi Omega family extends beyond the University of Arkansas as she has four aunts (Barbara Menz Bryan and Nancy Menz Farrell both Kappa Beta/Rhodes College, Laura Menz Harper, Tau Theta/William Woods University, and Ginny Wittichen Hawkins, Tau/U of Mississippi), and two cousins (Mary Mills Hawkins Abington, Phi Gamma/Louisiana State University and Lana Laughlin Richardson, Tau Beta/Oklahoma State University) who are all Chi Omegas.

Kappa Zeta/Texas Tech – Caroline Smith

Caroline Smith, Kappa Zeta | Texas Tech

Caroline comes from a rich heritage of Chi Omega family members including her great grandmother (Jeanne Gravatte Cronmiller, Phi Alpha/GW), grandmother (Jeanne ‘Jan’ Cronmiller Lamb, Gamma/Florida State), mother (Gloria Lamb Smith, Epsilon Zeta/Stephen F. Austin State University), biological sister (Christine Smith, Kappa Zeta/Texas Tech), two aunts (Jeanne Lamb Wisener and Margaret Lamb Wright, both Kappa Zeta/Texas Tech), three cousins (Katherine and Kelley Wright, both Xi Kappa/Texas A&M and Sara Wisener Velarde, Kappa Zeta/Texas Tech) and a sister-in-law (McKinzie Flynn, Rho Epsilon/TCU).

Her nominators shared the following about Caroline, “She is a very well-rounded, hard-working young lady with high morals and values and it is apparent the pride she has for herself, her family, and her relationships . . . Her bright smile and caring ways lead to fun and strong friendships. Her heart for others pushes her to serve ones around her.”

 

The Chi Omega Symphony Guides New U.S. Congresswoman

Read U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Dang Murphy’s Orlando 2017 Eleusinia Speech, below.

Good Morning,

My name is Stephanie Murphy, and I am the Congresswoman for Florida’s Seventh Congressional District here in central Florida. I am also a proud sister of the Chi Omega Omicron Beta Chapter of The College of William and Mary.

I am thrilled and honored to be here today with all of you. It has been many years since I graduated from college, but I still feel a deep connection to my sisters in the Chi Omega Sorority. From mini reunions, to a far-flung adventure to Thailand, my sisters have been by my side. Their friendship has been a consistent source of strength over the past twenty years.

Looking back at my nineteen-year-old self, a new Chi O sister, I hadn’t planned on running for U.S. Congress. But as I stand here today, thinking about the path that brought me to this point, I want to tell you a little bit about myself, my story, and how I came to be the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress.

I was born in Vietnam in 1978 following a prolonged and destructive war.

When Saigon fell in 1975, many Vietnamese families like mine faced uncertain futures as the Socialist Republic regime began to consolidate power. By mid-1978, hundreds of thousands of people associated with the former government of South Vietnam were being rounded up and sent to “re-education camps” where they endured torture, starvation and disease while being forced to perform hard labor.

As you can imagine, by my birth in September of 1978, my family was concerned about my future and the future of my eight-year-old brother. So, they, along with hundreds of thousands of families, fled Communist-controlled Vietnam – mostly by boat – to escape persecution, seek refuge, and find a better life for their families.

It was a treacherous journey and many didn’t make it. Most fled without proper documents, crammed into tiny, flimsy boats with only limited supplies and little fuel. Some were lost by storms, others robbed, raped, or killed by pirates. And, some, like my family, simply ran out of fuel – dangerously adrift at sea with no means of getting to safety.

However, luckily for us, an event occurred that forever changed my life and put me on a trajectory that led me to where I am today. A U.S. Navy vessel discovered our small boat adrift at sea. Out of the kindness of their hearts – and representing the generosity of America – those sailors refueled and resupplied us, and pointed us to Malaysia, where we eventually made it to the safety of a refugee camp.

Luckily, my family only stayed at that refugee camp for a few months before a Lutheran Church in Virginia sponsored our passage to the United States. Once here, they helped us find housing and helped my parents find jobs – and we eventually became proud American citizens.

Because of my parents’ relentless hard work at multiple jobs here in America, my brother and I were the first in our family to graduate from college through a combination of scholarships, Pell Grants, and student loans.

While in college, the Chi O sorority house was a special place for me, a place where women from different geographic, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds treated each other not only as equals, but as Sisters.

As Sisters we lived by the Chi Omega Symphony: We worked earnestly, we spoke kindly, we acted sincerely. I felt a tremendous sense of loyalty to my Sisters, and, importantly, I felt like my true self around them, which allowed me to become the person I am today.

Following college graduation, another pivotal moment happened in my life. On September 11, 2001, the country I owed everything to – the country that saved my family and had given me so many opportunities to succeed – found itself under attack.

I could no longer ignore my sense of duty to serve and to do my part to help protect this great country. So, after 9/11, I left the private sector to earn a master’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and eventually became a national security specialist at the U.S. Department of Defense

It was the honor of my life to serve alongside our men and women in uniform to help protect and serve the country that rescued my family so many years before.

After four years at the Pentagon, my husband had the opportunity to start a new small business in central Florida, so we relocated and made Florida our new home.

But that calling to public service never quite left me. So, I sought to serve and give back to my community through charitable work with various nonprofit organizations and becoming an instructor at Rollins College. However, I still felt there was more I could do, but I didn’t know what that was.

Looking at Washington D.C. from here in Florida, I found politics to be troubling on both sides of the aisle.

Thinking of the Chi Omega Symphony, I saw too much snobbery and not enough politicians living up to their word. I saw an emphasis on social obligations and not enough emphasis on scholarship and too much focus on appearances and not enough on character. Exclusivity and popularity were priorities, rather than democracy and lovability. I did not see politicians working earnestly, speaking kindly, or acting sincerely.

Now, I must confess something: Running for office never crossed my mind. But, that all changed last year. The Democratic Party reached out to me to help them find a candidate to challenge the Republican incumbent who had been in office since 1992, far before my Chi Omega years.

As we were searching for candidates, the presidential election was taking a dark and divisive tone. I grew frustrated and became increasingly alarmed by the hate and prejudice I saw bubbling up around the country. I saw too many politicians not living up to the standard that I had been held to as a Chi O sister.

Then, the Pulse Nightclub massacre happened in my community. Forty-nine beautiful, innocent lives were taken from us in the country’s largest mass shooting in history. Like many in our community, I was overcome with emotions. I felt shaken. I felt immense sorrow for the victims and their friends and families. And, I grew concerned about the safety of my own two young children.

I often tell my three- and six-year-old children that if you see a problem, don’t wait on others to fix it for you; it’s important you step up and try to fix it yourself. So, after consulting with family and friends, I decided to run for Congress and do what I could to make a difference.

That brings us to today, where I now stand before you as a refugee, a proud American citizen, a young, Vietnamese-American woman, a Chi Omega Sister, and the Congresswoman from the 7th District Florida.

Since becoming a Chi O Sister, I have tried to live by the ideals of the Symphony. I try my best to bring these characteristics to Congress every day.

The words of the Symphony guided me from my time as a pledge new members and I will continue to use them as a guidepost throughout my service in Congress. In every action I take, I ask myself three questions: Is this good for my country? Is this good for my constituents? And, is this in line with my conscience?

We face an uncertain time during the next few years, and our nation is divided more than we’ve seen in a long time. There’s a lot at stake, particularly for women and girls. This is the time for active citizenship. We simply cannot sit on the sidelines.

For those who can speak up and out, it is our duty to do so – to call out injustice and discrimination wherever we see it. And, most importantly, we must lend a voice to the voiceless among us. In doing so, we build a stronger, more inclusive nation, where every girl and every woman is empowered to choose her own future and seize her own destiny. After all, a woman’s place is in the House . . . and in the Senate, and in the White House!

U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Dang Murphy
Orlando 2017 Eleusinia

Sisters Who Serve the World: Susan Workman

Susan, middle, with members of her fundraising team, the Wishful Walkers.

Susan Workman (Rho Kappa | Illinois State). This dynamic Chi Omega community service advisor for Zeta Beta | Arizona has helped the chapter become one of the top Chi Omega fundraising chapters in the country.


Zeta Beta has just wrapped up its last event of 2017, Wings for Wishes, benefitting Make-A-Wish. This is held in conjunction with the Tucson Walk for Wishes. The chapter is most fortunate to have an advisor who has been volunteering in meaningful ways since her college days and that service has continued during her years as an alumna.

When Susan moved to Arizona four years ago, she reached out to both the local Chi Omega chapter and Make-A-Wish to meet people and to serve her community. She began as the Community Service Advisor for Zeta Beta Chapter which fit hand in hand with her later involvement with the local Make-A-Wish Ambassador group.

The most meaningful experience Susan has had as Community Service Advisor was bringing the mom of the first Make-A-Wish child to speak to the chapter members. The young women in the chapter were so touched by this mom’s story and the experience provided them with motivation, dedication and passion to volunteer for Make-A-Wish. “Hearing Linda speak and seeing Wish Kids involved with chapter activities has had a great impact on our collegiate Sisters. The chapter is seeing that their hard work is helping make wishes come true while providing hope to children and their families.”

Sisters Who Serve the World: Esther Willis-Schroeder

Esther Willis-Schroeder (Zeta Gamma | College of Charleston). This Sister became involved with Make-A-Wish as a collegian and  has since made a career of granting wishes and raising money for this incredible organization.

 


In 2006, I had the joy of following in my grandmother’s footsteps and pledging Chi Omega. I spent four fabulous years at the College of Charleston making life-lasting friendships. It was through Chi Omega that I was first introduced to Make-A-Wish®. Now, in my current role with Make-A-Wish® Mid-South, I have the opportunity to work with the Psi Chapter at University of Arkansas. These young women inspire me and their passion for Make-A-Wish. They spend countless hours coming up with creative new ways to raise more funds to grant more wishes. They seem to keep just going up and up! This past weekend, on 11/11, they hit way over their goal and raised more than ever….$36K+ in one day!

I feel so privileged to work for such a transformational organization. A wish experience leaves a lasting impression on not only the wish kid, but the entire community. We know we can’t keep our children from getting sick, but what we can do is provide hope, strength, and joy for the ones who are sick (and their families). These wishes create something magical in their lives which make them emotionally, mentally and spiritually stronger. Often it gives them renewed resilience. Once you’ve been a part of one, you can’t stop. The gift of wish granting is contagious and that is why I love doing what I do.

 


Esther began working for Make-A-Wish Mid-South in January 2015. She had served as a former Development Coordinator and Development Officer and now serves as Development Manager for Make-A-Wish Mid-South. She lives in Fayetteville, AR.

Esther also volunteers with Girls on the Run International as a Girls on the Run Coach.  This organization provides a 10 week curriculum for 3rd through 5th grade girls at designated elementary schools. This curriculum is designed to allow every girl to recognize her inner strength and inspires girls to define their lives on their own terms.